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.