Concise two-page spreads lets readers digest the information quickly and easily. Readers will discover operations and techniques that open up new avenues of creativity. Softcover.
Projects include transforming a photograph into various styles of painterly images and into a mosaic composition that looks handcrafted out of tissue paper. Readers also find out how to simulate marbled paper, make transparent shadows and gradients on a path, draw 3-D packages and bar charts, create type with a scratchboard fill or even in the style of a '60s psychedelic poster. One section shows a sampling of filter combinations, like "Mosaic + Ripple" and "Dry Brush + Graphic Pen."
Design Essentials is laid out with the steps on the left of the page, color screen shots on the right. Although this is not a "basics" book, even a beginner would be able to follow along. The book assumes that readers are familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator, but a nifty appendix of shortcuts and handy tips (for example, hit the X key to switch the foreground/background colors) makes this a great reference for readers of all levels. And even though the focus is on the latest versions of Photoshop and Illustrator, several of the sections will still make sense to those readers who haven't yet upgraded.
Featuring completely new examples, this book's usefulness will last long after newer versions of Photoshop and Illustrator have come out. I still regularly reach for my copy of Cohen's 1993 Imaging Essentials (featuring similar tips on using Photoshop 2.5 and Illustrator 5!). This new edition has now earned a prominent place on my bookshelf as well. --Mike Caputo
Do not get this book if you're looking for inspiration for web graphics.
Design Essentials is a very hands-on book, providing basic, short instructions, which familiarize the beginner and novice PhotoShop user with all the little tricks that transform an image from "nice" to "great", as well as providing the necessary explanations and "how-to" information on those tools beginners like myself still need to discover and maximize the full potential of.
Personally, i had a lot of fun both reading the book, and experimenting with its tutorials. I just wish I had a copy of Adobe Illustrator, since it seems like a wonderful tool.
However, on actually reading the book I was very pleasantly surprised to find...a recipe book. Lots of nice, step-by-step, two or three page descriptions of interesting graphical techniques you can apply, either to spruce up something you've already done, or as inspiration for something new altogether. Many of them are applicable to both Photoshop and Illustrator, and where appropriate instructions are given for both applications.
The techniques illustrated cover a wide range of subjects, from applying filters to photos to get a more painterly appearance to the creation of seamless textures, image compositing and the creation of semi-transparent object shadows in Illustrator. You'll almost certainly have seen some of them before (or arrived at your own ways to achieve similar effects) but there's enough in this book that you're sure to find something you'll want to add to your own list of techniques.
In a way this is "Photoshop 7 Down And Dirty Tricks" polite sister. The basic idea's the same (like I said, a recipe book) but the aim's slightly higher (i.e. improving your art, rather than impressing your boss). There's even some overlap in the techniques presented, although generally this book favours aesthetic results over flashy impact.