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Photoshop 6 WOW! Book
By Linnea Dayton and Jack Davis
Peachpit Press

Author: Roberta Mikkelsen

Date: 4/5/02

I have anxiously been waiting for the "Photoshop 6 WOW! Book". When I finally got it I flipped through it, and just like Photoshop 4 WOW! and Photoshop 5 WOW! I was not disappointed. Right from the start you see wonderful color thumbnails in the table of contents. I believe Photoshop is for visual people and the WOW! series of books agrees with me. Each chapter is divided into understandable sections. They start off with how to use the tools pertaining to the topic. For example in the painting section you are taught how to use the painting, cloning and filling tools. Then you are taught techniques. How to use gradients, painting wet on wet etc. The chapter ends with the gallery section. Here is where you are filled with inspiration by looking at full color illustrations. There are nine galleries and each one is amazing!

The introduction starts off with "What's New in Photoshop 6" and "Hot New Features" which quickly gets you up to speed. At the beginning of each chapter there's a "Basic" section where you can learn the Photoshop fundamentals. Throughout the book there are tips placed alongside the basic and techniques sections with keyboard shortcuts. The tips are indexed in the beginning of each chapter for quick reference. The tips are a book in themselves. A nice addition for this series.

WOW! assumes you know the basic Windows or Mac interface so the authors don't bore you with the fundamentals. But they do give step-by-step information in a section titled Technique. They state their goal was to provide enough written and pictorial instructions so you wouldn't have to hunt through the Adobe Photoshop 6.0 User Guide or continuously consult Photoshop's online help to follow the steps. All I can say is: well done!!

One of my favorite sections of each chapter is the gallery section. I like each chapter having it's own showplace where I can go to be inspired using the techniques I want to learn. Another favorite is a chapter on painting. Photoshop is adding more painterly tools and features to its interface. This chapter alone keeps me awake at nights. I thought I smelled oil paint as I turned the pages! One featured artist is William Low a teacher at the School of Visual Arts where I earned a Bachelors degree years ago. He was/is a traditional painter and I was surprised to see he has carried his painterly artistic style into the digital realm very well. I was unable to detect if he used paint or pixels to create the illustrations in the book.

There's a wonderful CD that comes with the book that has before and after pictures of the files used in the techniques, WOW layer styles, gradients, patterns, shapes and contours and WOW actions. The study guide is in Acrobat PDF format and aids in teaching classes or in a self-taught program. I was impressed with the sample color chart in the back of the book of the WOW 'one click' styles sampler so I loaded the styles folder containing 100 different styles. It really slows down the launching of Photoshop but I use it often so it's worth the wait. I was able to take a logo I designed, choose a layer style I liked and with one click changed a featureless bland logo into a colorful 3-dimentional logo. You can use the knowledge you gain from each technique section in two ways. One way the authors refer to as a quick microwave recipe using Photoshop and their CD. Just choose and click. The effect is done. The other is to gain more control and read the technique section, follow the directions to combine the ingredients you are interested in.

The authors have crafted a book which is very inspirational. The featured artists are from a variety of styles and backgrounds from loose and painterly to tight realism. They cover retouching photographs to graphic design to poster artists. The "Photoshop 6 WOW! Book" is the only book I would want if stranded on a desert island. The inspiring illustrations would keep me alive until I was rescued.

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