The Ninth Circle Gets a Makeover

I and my crackerjack team are putting the final touches on what has traditionally been one of the bestselling titles on Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One. Those of you familiar with previous editions of the book know that I start things off, in the very first lesson, by comparing Photoshop to the Nine Circles of Hell. The idea is, Photoshop is an extraordinarily complicated and sprawling program. With few exceptions, new users are intimidated as Hell by it. But just as Dante survived his encounter with The Devil, we will tour the depths of Photoshop, stare it right in the eye, and emerge from the experience unscathed. (Maybe we’ll even see Brutus!)

For years, I’ve been trying to come up with a satisfactory figure to illustrate the discussion, and now I finally have. Behold the newly renovated Ninth Circle:

Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One, page 3

(The actual illustration comes from a fellow named Achim Prill. My contribution was some recoloring and, of course, the text.)

Can’t you just hear The Beast bellowing at you to join Him in His Dark Imaging Lair? As you struggle to form your wordless response, download the high quality PDF and read the introduction for yourself.

Interestingly, even tho the actual Nine Circles discussion takes up just a few sentences (and now a nice graphic!) of a 500+ page book, it frequently comes up as a topic of discussion with the good folks at Adobe. Mostly, they laugh it off. Awkwardly, but still, they laugh. But a couple of folks have been downright mournful about it. So much so that I’ve been tempted to replace the current intro with my original outlined idea, “Why Photoshop Likes You,” in which I would say something to the effect of, “Yeah, I know. At first glance, Photoshop comes off as a monster. But it’s really a pussycat when you get to know it.”

But I’ve received so much feedback over the years from readers, thanking me for acknowledging that Photoshop is hard from the outset and then laying it out in a way that makes sense, that I’ve decided watering down the message would be a disservice. And so, until Photoshop gets easier to learn, the intro stays. Photoshop’s forthcoming upgrade is not easier, so out of utmost respect, the Nine Circles get an upgrade as well.

Incidentally, don’t be thinking I’m somehow trashing the program or suggesting that it should be easy to learn. It could be streamlined, there’s no doubt. But for Adobe to gloss up the program at the expense of versatility and pure, unbridled power, that doesn’t interest me at all. Fear has its purposes. It motivates, it clarifies, it focuses the mind.

And so in One-on-One, we fight the good fight together.

Next entry:CS4 content a-plenty

Previous entry:Obviously I Am a Depraved Pervert


  • Cmon You GOTTA sell this as a poster

    I want one

  • YES.

    Poster pls. Pretty pls.? Oh man that would be the ultimate wall decoration for design dorks the word over. Do it!

  • Image warrior

    I see hell and an image warrior. Only a true warrior can make it through hell and return to say how much he (Deke) enjoyed it.


    Head Camp Counselor
    Camp Photoshop

  • be brave

    Wow, the Deke’s gonna take us into the depths of version 4.

    I’ve been fiddling with it for a couple of months now.  Also requires a computer with some umpf to run it (+ me thinks a good video card too).


  • So you’re like, Virgil

    The sensitive albeit heathen poet who guides us Dante-esque creatures through the nine circles, revealing the intrinsic reason behind the seemingly chaotic tortures of the inferno. Really, what about this metaphor does not hold up? No wonder people like it.

  • btw, depraved perverts go to the second circle of hell

    where they are borne about on hot winds without rest for eternity, as they allowed their lust to blow them around during their time on earth.

  • ‘tis difficult

    Yea I read somewhere: survey says PS is one of the most difficult programs to learn. I’ll agree that it certainly is challenging & keeps the ol’ brain waves active so we dont get alzheimers . Read that somewhere’s too, giving ourselves new things to do & learn may help prevent it.


  • Wow, that 2nd circle

    Sounds wicked awesome! Is it a coed, by any chance?

    Can I apply or is it one of the Invite Only things?

  • Are others interested in this?

    Maybe we give away a poster to anyone who buys all three of the upcoming books.


  • Training for a newbie

    Hi Deke, I am totally new to Adobe products and learning on my own at home on a PC. I love your one-on-one books and have completely gone through “InDesign CS3 One-on-One”.  I am also doing InDesign “Classroom in a Book” for review. (I like your book much better).  I will also be going through Photoshop CS3 One-on-One and I am considering purchasing Illustrator software and hope that you will have a One-on-One book for that. 
    I am not a designer and my work is not at all involved with page layout and design, although I’m strongly interested in it and hope to move into it in the future at a junior level.
    I want to suggest something that I think would be of value to me as a learner and ask if you might consider it. (I do realize that you’re very busy with what you are doing now).

    I personally would be interested in “project based mini-books”.  Your current lessons have some really interesting and complex (at least they look complex to me) documents. In the lessons we change things to learn the lessons of the chapters but you’ve built the documents and/or the videos and provided all the files etc.  I’d be interested in doing a project from a book from the very beginning - every piece of a complex document, except perhaps an import of a lengthy word document.  I believe it would help to learn how much is involved in a project. Anyway, just an idea.  I really do appreciate your books and videos as they are. Thank you

  • CS4 Books

    When is the new books coming out for CS4. I learn a lot from your books.

  • Deke CS4 Books are on their way.

    The Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One book is due for retail availability on October 28. InDesign and Channels and Masks are both scheduled for November release. After that, we’re all going to take a short nap, eat some popcorn, and get back to work on getting Illustrator One-on-One out in the early Spring.

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