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Book Review: The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Techniques by Corrie Haffly

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If you are like a lot of web developers I know, you can work with HTML, you can work with databases, you can work with the language with which you program, whether it be PHP, Ruby, ASP.NET, Java or any of the other popular web languages. You are probably even gifted at what you do. Where I have seen a lot of people cringe is when the development manager or customer comes in and says, “I need a new button that looks like this!” Or, “Can we get a background that looks like my wood floor?” Or even, “Can you make that text curve around that globe and make it look like it in motion?” I can already see that deer-in-the-headlights look on your face. “I..I..I am a programmer,” you stutter. “I’m not a graphics designer! I can barely spell Photoshop!”

Have no fear. Corrie Haffly is to the rescue with her book The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Techniques. This isn’t your typical Photoshop book. This book is really focused toward web developers: those who are comfortable with the programming aspect of web design but may have limited experience with graphic side of web development. The author begins from the base and works up providing you with the ability to actually learn how to create useful items for your web design.

The book is contained in nine chapters that start you out by showing you around in Photoshop, getting you comfortable with navigation and learning some basic techniques. In chapter two, you will begin learning the basic skills that you will need to grow in you use of Photoshop. Most of these are simple skills that show you how to work with layers, shapes and documents. You will learn how to sample colors from image files, fade images, and work with drop shadows and transplant backgrounds.

In chapter three, you learn how to make buttons – something frequently needed in web design. You learn to make simple flat buttons, beveled buttons as well as ones that are chiseled, embedded, metallic, plastic, glass, and have a watery feel. Once you complete all of these, you will be on your way to creating your own effects and designs.

Chapter four is about creating backgrounds. These include striped, pixel, brushed metal, wood-grain, stone and paper. You’ll be emulating, your boss’s wood floor in no time. Chapter five works with text, here you will be wrapping, stretching, curving, and warping text. You will make it glow, outline, glass, adding shadows, patterns, changing shapes and making it move.

In chapter six you work with images. You will be able to adjust tones, whites, contrasts and make colors more vivid. You learn to lighten or darken areas on an image, combine images, clean up dust or scratch marks, match lighting or fix red-eye. Chapter seven guides you into manipulating images to create a magnifying effect, make the foreground standout, put a picture into a product box or curved surface, as well as making product photos for an eCommerce site.

In chapter eight involves building a new web page-sized document. Using the techniques learned in the book, you will be able to create all of the images, backgrounds and menu items to navigate your web page. You will see how to slice and dice your layout, optimize, and save the elements to use on your website.

Chapter nine completes the book with advanced techniques such as automation, batch processing and animation, instructing how to watermark photos, work with layer sets and create a web photo gallery.

The Photoshop Anthology is not really a book for photographers, graphic artists or illustrators. Although each of these groups can certainly learn techniques from this book, it is not to whom this book is aimed. This is really a book for web developers and web designers. It is really a must read for those who can do the programming side of development but are intimidated by the graphic side of web design. Through her solution-discussion method of explaining each of her techniques, the author provides a firm foundation from which to tackle your graphic fears.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
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