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Authors: Duncan Evans & Tim Shelbourne

Publisher: Lark Books (Sterling Publishing Co.)

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Creative Photoshop Portrait Techniques is a book of tips that contains instructions for adjusting portraits in Photoshop by creating a number of special effects. The chapters are devoted to color correction and enhancement, creative lighting, personal improvements, lens and backgrounds effects, monochrome, copying older portrait styles, artistic effects like making a portrait look like a charcoal drawing, and adding special frames. The tips range from how to selectively color a portion of a portrait, to creating an Andy Warhol-like portrait, to replacing a closed-eyed head with an open-eyed head.

I dislike tip books because they usually provide specific steps to follow to achieve an effect without explaining just what any step is accomplishing in the overall process in a way that will allow the reader to modify the steps for a different situation. This book was typical of this approach. The authors show before and after portraits and then provide a list of steps to take, together with specific settings to achieve the after effect. On the other hand, many of the steps will introduce users to tools which they might not ordinarily use, which might be helpful to the reader. In my own case, I found that the lack of detailed explanation often left me stranded when something didn’t seem to work right. I felt I would rather have had fewer tips with more explanation. Perhaps I also would have benefited if I had had the authors’ images to use to follow the tutorials rather than having to select one of my own images that looked to me like it would benefit from applying the tip tutorial.

I also confess that the special effects in the book were not the kind for which I usually have a use. My own portrait work concentrates on trying to create an image that will show the subject in the best possible way. I have little use for a portrait that looks like it was cross processed, or changed the color of the subject’s hair, or reproduced the look of a 1930′s Hollywood studio portrait. The Photoshop skills I require include such techniques as making a more mature woman’s wrinkles look a little less significant and there were few of this kind of tip.

And yet there are photographers who need to create these kinds of effects, such as those creating images for advertisements, and I suspect that those photographers, who may have already explored the more arcane aspects of Photoshop, might find the tips in this book useful in pointing them in the right direction. Photographers who are interested in creating a more unusual portrait for artistic purposes might also benefit from the tips contained in this volume.

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