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Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature by Matt Kloskowski

Publisher: Peachpit Press

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

No photographer can unleash the full power of Photoshop to make an image look like the photographer’s vision without understanding the power of layers. (At the very least layers allow the Photoshop user to make selective adjustments to an image, without actually changing the underlying data.) Yet many Photoshop books treat layers in bits and pieces rather than as an integrated whole so that the photographer has a hard time grasping the overall concept. That’s where a book aimed solely at layers comes in.

Matt Kloskowski’s book deals with all the major applications of layers. The subjects include the nature of layers, blending layers, adjustment layers, layer masks, type and shape layers, enhancing and adjusting photos with layers, layer styles and smart layers. It’s all here, but in a short simple quick form. (I’m sure there are more esoteric things to learn about layers; at least one pair of authors has a book on layers that is over 750 pages long!) Most photographers will find that this book has all they need to know about the subject.

The author’s text takes the form of tutorials. One can either download files for these tutorials or work with one’s own pictures. The tutorials are short, well illustrated and have plenty of white space. If you make a mistake at an early step you won’t have to backtrack through twenty or thirty steps to find out where you went wrong. Even if you work out each tutorial, this book will not take more than ten or twenty hours to complete, and it will teach you almost everything you need to know about the subject. Along the way, Kloskowski teaches the reader about other Photoshop tools, as when he integrates a discussion of gradients into a lesson on blend modes, or deals with selections in a tutorial on layer masks.

The author has an easygoing, breezy, humorous style, but those put off by the style of his mentor, Scott Kelby, probably will not be offended here.

Normally, as I go through a book, I make notes in the margin when I discover an error. I’m happy to report that I made no notes in the margin of this book.

For experienced Photoshop users this book will contain nothing new. Perhaps they’ll have to look at the 750 page tomes. However, for the photographer who doesn’t have a firm grip on the use of layers in Photoshop, this book will help him or her to master the subject.

This post sponsored by Lensbabies.

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Interesting take on the Layers book. I’ve heard a little buzz about this from the NAPP corners, so naturally that is all glowing. My question would be about the usefulness of the book for a “semi” experienced Photoshop user. For example, while certainly not a pro, I do have some of the basics of layers, layer styles and other features of Photoshop under control. While I realize that the term “experienced” is always subjective based in no small part on the skills of the reviewer, it would help to define what experienced is a little more…

  2. Interesting take on the Layers book. I’ve heard a little buzz about this from the NAPP corners, so naturally that is all glowing. My question would be about the usefulness of the book for a “semi” experienced Photoshop user. For example, while certainly not a pro, I do have some of the basics of layers, layer styles and other features of Photoshop under control. While I realize that the term “experienced” is always subjective based in no small part on the skills of the reviewer, it would help to define what experienced is a little more…

  3. Thank you for the review Conrad.

    I will definitely be checking that book out, it sounds like it has nearly everything one would need.

  4. Thank you for the review Conrad.

    I will definitely be checking that book out, it sounds like it has nearly everything one would need.

  5. I have this book and love it. It’s an easy-to-read book, and great for visual learners (there is a full-color image for each step). I already have a good grasp on layers in Photoshop, but I figure that there is always something new to learn and this book is a really good and easy read for all levels of Photoshop users. :)

  6. I have this book and love it. It’s an easy-to-read book, and great for visual learners (there is a full-color image for each step). I already have a good grasp on layers in Photoshop, but I figure that there is always something new to learn and this book is a really good and easy read for all levels of Photoshop users. :)

  7. I like Matt’s writing style. I have read several other books that he has written and they all flow as smoothly as this one. Prior to reading this book I knew a little about Layers, but the material in this book brings the subject better into focus.

  8. I like Matt’s writing style. I have read several other books that he has written and they all flow as smoothly as this one. Prior to reading this book I knew a little about Layers, but the material in this book brings the subject better into focus.

  9. Hi. Thanks for reviewing my book. I really appreciate it.

  10. Hi. Thanks for reviewing my book. I really appreciate it.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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