The Photoshop Show Starring Russell Brown

by Russell Brown, with Brie Gyncild and John McConnell. 160 pp. plus CD-ROM. Adobe Press, 2004. $35.

If you’ve visited the Adobe booth at a Macworld Expo, you may have seen a mesmerizing (and oddly-attired) presenter deliver a knock-your-socks-off Photoshop demonstration. That, my friends, was the inimitable Russell Brown. The Photoshop Show Starring Russell Brown book and CD-ROM brings Brown’s one-of-a-kind instruction to the rest of the world. Here you’ll find some of the best Photoshop teaching available, delivered by Adobe’s acclaimed senior creative director and leavened with a healthy helping of his inspired goofiness.

The Photoshop Show begins with seven projects that leverage the power of layers. You’ll learn techniques for revealing detail in oversaturated photos (the secret – channels), applying the illusion of motion, retouching a portrait through “digital shaving” and creating the best black and white images from color originals. The book’s second part, inspired by digital effects artist John McConnell, pulls together seven Photoshop techniques that turn an ordinary face (guess who’s?) into Frankenstein’s monster.

The book and CD-ROM’s production values are high, as one would expect from Adobe Press. Step by step instructions are entertaining and clearly written, and are plentifully illustrated with color photos and screen shots. Photos of Brown pop up on almost every page as he delivers tips and observations in cartoon-like speech bubbles.

The CD-ROM includes eleven excellent instructional QuickTime movies and a collection of project images that allow you to try the techniques yourself. The CD-ROM “covers” Photoshop 7 and higher for Mac and Windows (I assume this refers to the format of the included Photoshop files), but the book’s techniques and the ideas behind them can be used in most any version of Photoshop.

The book assumes a familiarity with Photoshop, and is aimed at intermediate to advanced Photoshop users. If you’re ready to have fun, get inspired, and think about Photoshop in new ways, don’t miss The Photoshop Show Starring Russell Brown.

– Elsa Travisano
Copyright ©2004 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the April 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.