Teeth make smiles, and smiles make sales - Unidentified Harrods person in Alan Sugar's The Apprentice
WE'VE ALL SEEN and heard about the power of Adobe's photo editing software Photoshop, in fact these days it's so pervasive as to have become a verb. Adobe has also released a 'little brother' to the full Photoshop package called 'Elements' but even this can seem daunting to the casual user who just wants to touch up the holiday snaps.
Andrei Doubrovski, Andrew to his mates, is a professional photographic restoration artist and technician and has released an updated version of his Animated Introduction to Adobe Photoshop Elements which is designed to help plonkers like you and me to get to grips with the multitude of options and touch up techniques available.
Welcome screen and table of contents
The download of the full version is only 15MB which unlikely to shatter anyone's internet connection even on dial-up, but if you prefer for a few extra bucks you can have them send you a CD with the install file on it. Installation is a simple as you might expect, and once installed you'll have a new program in your list. Along with the program the install also provides a copy of all the pictures included in the demo so that you can open them in Elements and do the tasks yourself.
The tutorial is very thorough and it doesn't assume that the user knows anything. It explains everything starting with simple concepts like the work area and zooming right through to more advanced stuff like layers and masks. It moves onto explanations of operations and recipes for common tasks you may want to do like straightening pictures, fixing blemishes and so on. Users also have the option to go through the whole thing step by step or you can access the contents at any time and skip around to anything that takes your fancy.
Each screen includes text, video and sound
Every page includes a step by step text description of what is being done on the left and an animation on the right, with a voice overlay. The animation and speech is controlled by a multimedia bar along the bottom right, includes all the basic functions including a progress bar. The audio track is not a human voice but rather some text to speech software so occasionally it sounds very strange as it doesn't always pronounce words correctly, but the text is there if you really battle to understand something being said.
All in all there are over 70 videos with and end to end run time of about two hours, but it will definitely take you a lot longer than two hours to get through everything as you stop and start while performing the tasks yourself and getting to grips with each feature and tool. Everything is done step by step, although there is sometimes a sense of doing things by feeling, for instance when adjusting brush size the instructor will say to 'increase the brush size' but seems to pick the size almost at random. This can be frustrating in the beginning when you would prefer a more rigid explanation about how he decided how much to adjust something, but you at the end of the day a lot of the editing is based on feeling and making small adjustments repeatedly until it looks right.
If you own Photoshop Elements, or if you've thought about getting hold of a copy, but have been put off by its apparent complexity then this e-book is well worth the money to help you get to grips with the array of features and tools that it can provide. Of course you can find explanations of how to just about everything in Photoshop Elements' help files and on forums, but having it presented in a consistent and logical step by step fashion can count for a lot, especially when you're starting out. Ironically the screenshots in this review were done in Paint, I guess some habits are hard to kill.
Incidentally on the site you can find tutorials for Paintshop Pro and Flash as well. ?
Can help make sense of the myriad of options available in Photoshop Elements
Instructive step by step text, video and sound
Some searching you can find all this information for free, but not as well packaged
The text to speech program can sound very strange sometimes
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