Book Review:
Photoshop Photo-Retouching Secrets

Photoshop Photo-Retouching Secrets, by Scott Kelby. 246 pp. New Riders Press, 2001. $39.99.

Most of us have a drawer–or maybe a hard drive–full of photographs that could use some help. Photoshop can work miracles on photos that have faded or cracked, on underexposed or overexposed shots, and even on faces that could use some digital cosmetic surgery. However, learning the techniques has usually involved wading through instruction designed more for a graphic professional than an ordinary Mac user.

Fortunately, Scott Kelby has cut through the non-essentials and come up with a book that gets right to the shortcuts, tips and tricks for painless photo retouching. Based on Kelby’s best-selling Photoshop Photo-Retouching Techniques training video and his popular retouching session from the Adobe Photoshop Seminar Tour, Photoshop Photo-Retouching Secrets is aimed at people who want to get the job done quickly, and have a great time while they’re doing it.

Step by step tutorials take readers through various retouching jobs, from removing spots and scratches on scanned photographs to cloning away unwanted objects. Tutorials on cleaning up line art show how to get rid of clip art jaggies, and how to turn photographs into line art. Other tutorials cover removing color casts and improving greyscale images. If you’d like to remove wrinkles (only digitally, alas), look to the chapter on digital plastic surgery. Each tutorial step is illustrated by a screen shot, most in full color.

Bear in mind that this is intended as a how-to book not a book on artistry. The chapter on cropping and straightening images demonstrates several Photoshop cropping techniques, including how to remove barrel distortion, but doesn’t explore how cropping the same photo in different ways can change the focal point and effectiveness of that image. Discussions of these topics can be found elsewhere, including in books on traditional photography. Kelby gives you the tools for retouching photos and teaches you how to use them; the rest is up to you. Highly recommended.

–Elsa Travisano
Copyright ©2002 by Elsa Travisano. This article originally appeared in the April 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.