This book/DVD instructional combo starts you off with a bang. Anticipating that some purchasers may be familiar with earlier versions, the first lesson showcases the newest features in this latest version. Accompanied by a step-by-step video from the DVD, it creates an interesting and complex image you recreate, following the first lesson's text.
You begin by opening three images and combining them into a panorama. You then bring a new image into the panorama and remove a person from it. Another image is opened. That person is selected and his background hidden so it appears he's floating in air. Text is added, both vertical and horizontal. For a final touch, "waves" are sculpted from parts of the background panoramic image.
All the steps to recreate this image are in the text, and that's just the first lesson! But catch your breath - beginners aren't left behind.
If you are coming from an earlier version of Photoshop (or moving up from Photoshop Elements) you may well feel like diving right in. It's good to know that all the steps to (re)create that first lesson's image are given in the text, albeit in slightly different order than in the video. Even a novice can follow through and successfully complete that or any of the other projects.
As an experienced Photoshop user, I really enjoyed working through some of these new features right off the bat. I think someone new to Photoshop would gain an instant feeling of confidence. Seeing the instructor work through the lesson before you start, seeing how the tools and techniques work really makes a difference.
Those truly new to Photoshop may decide to actually "begin" with lesson 2. Watch the video, then work through the lesson. Actually, I found it helpful to have the book open as I watched the video. I think working through the step-by-step instructions was much easier once I knew what the end result should be.
The book is broken into twelve sections, each with an accompanying video. In most cases (not all) what's in the book is what's presented in the video. Some chapters do have additional information about features/techniques not broached in the accompanying video. It's important to go through the book, not just watch the video.
Not counting Lessons 1 and 14 (both of which focus on CS5's new features), each lesson leads you from total rock bottom into a basic understanding of most of the features of this rich image-editing program. Almost (not all) of the lessons are demonstrated in the accompanying video. It's well worth your time watching the videos first, preferably following in the book, then following the instructions.
What do you learn? How to get around the program. How to find images. How to perform both basic and fairly sophisticated editing. How to remove a background from an image. How to combine separate images into a whole (whether or not it looks good). How to run filters on an image or a part of one. How to create an animated GIF file.
The videos are super useful. Watching the author work in real time, commenting as she worked, is incredibly valuable. For some reason, watching how graphics are created/edited works much better than reading about it. The one lack here is the Pen tool, well-covered in the text but nothing on the video. This surprised me, because if any tool needs demonstration, it's the Pen tool.
Yes, I recommend this book/video, whether you're new to the program or not. If you already know Photoshop, is it worthwhile? How well do you think you know Photoshop? For instance, a lot of shortcuts are given - not only really useful ones, but ones most users don't know but would like to (grow/shrink brush size, change layer opacity, etc.).