If you haven’t got either of my Hidden Powers titles, you might be wondering what makes them different and worth your time. As luck would have it, I am in just the position to ‘splain it you.
Never let your tools get in the way of your vision
I write from the perspective of someone who loves to explore, of someone who’s learned the value of directed experimentation and looking for connections and relationships. The techniques I write about are meant to show you how to use tools in unusual ways, and to prompt you to dig around and try new things on your own. As one reviewer put it – “…A Photoshop book that teaches you how to think!”. My sincere hope in writing this way is to guide you to make your own discoveries.
You see, the market is filled with really great tutorials and books that give you exact details of every step to achieve a very specific result. Let’s call them Level 1 materials. This is perfect for doing a particular task quickly, or for getting your first taste of how Photoshop works. It’s a time-proven method of instruction and is the easiest way to start learning something new. The value of this approach is that it helps you get good results immediately and hopefully motivates you to continue.
What is not so prevalent are books and materials that take you further, but there are still lots out there. They typically take the form of workshops and full courses that go deeper and show you more techniques. At this Level 2 niche, they also provide some insight about altering techniques based on the image and your goals. Some of my favorite instructors do their thing here. What you find are people who demonstrate their experience and professional achievement and share that with you. These folks are highly motivating and what I usually recommend for those looking to move from beginning to advanced work.
At the top end, Level 3, are essentially artist brain-dumps. Rather than getting instructions, you’ll find a discussion of how the artist approached a certain image or technique, and probably some chat about failures and refining one’s vision. Insights to the process are more organic, less structured, focused on watching the idea develop. A three-hour processing session might be described in just a paragraph or two rather than bullet points or lists. You have to already understand Photoshop and a wide range of techniques, and you are encouraged to use your own favorite methods. Rather than being told to open a Curves adjustment and paint on the mask, you might instead be directed to increase contrast and left to your own devices.
My books fall between the 2nd and 3rd levels – Level 2.5. I attempt to bridge the rather large gap there, and my thought is that the best way to do it is by showing you some of the foundations of how Photoshop works. Both of my Hidden Powers books are aimed at people who want to do more with their images than apply the latest look or filter. I present methods with an emphasis on describing the effects and reasoning behind decisions. The truth is, there is more than one way to do pretty much everything in Photoshop. There are thousands of variations for every technique. My goal is to open the door so you can see the possibilities.
There are two motivators behind this philosophy: to help you achieve your artistic vision without distraction; to help you work faster by embedding core knowledge and understanding. Both of these ends are achieved by forgetting about the tools and just letting them work for you. You get there through familiarity and depth of understanding – you just know.
Hopefully my books are a vehicle for you to get to this point.
The Hidden Power of Blend Modes
This definitive resource on using Adobe Photoshop blend modes, features dozens of hands-on examples to give you an edge in technical, personal, and commercial projects.
The Hidden Power of Adjustment Layers
Photoshop’s adjustment and fill layers give you an amazing level of control and are the building blocks of innumerable techniques. In this definitive resource, I demonstrate how to use these simple but powerful tools through approachable hands-on examples.