The Photoshop CS2 Help Desk, Book Review

Author: Dave Cross
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Peachpit Press (June 27, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0321337042
ISBN-13: 978-0321337047

Review by Karen Stansel
June 23, 2008

I know the book states CS2, and since the only version of Photoshop that I own is
CS3, I was a little leery of buying a book that was written specifically for another
version of this software. Was I going to end up with a book that made no sense to
me? After all, I am a newbie to Photoshop and everything he is talking about may have
been changed in the newer version. Well, I ‘m here to tell you “no”, that is not the
case at all. This book isn’t just for CS2 users. It goes great with CS3, too.

Now where to start? How about the little things first.

I really like the feel of the paper, although it tends to reflect the light almost to the
blinding point if you tilt the book the wrong way. However, it is a thicker paper and if you are anything like me and must highlight the stuff you find important, you will be pleased as punch to know that it does not bleed though to the other side. As it turns out, this is a good thing in my case, or my book would be one big puddle by now.
The book has 21 Chapters that are split up into 3 sections, which we’ll go through as my review progresses.

Now let’s move on to the really important stuff. The heart of the book.

The first thing that I learned is that Mr. Cross is a man of his word. In Chapter One, he begins to teach us how to be our own help desk when it comes to Photoshop.
He tells us it will be a short chapter. Well, yours truly had to stop and go look to see exactly how short it was. After I counted the pages, I was sort of stunned to find that this chapter was only 5 pages long. Yes, I said only 5 pages. I know…why bother right? As I flipped back to page 2 and started to read again, I was actually surprised to see just how much important information was in those 5 pages. It turns out to be a powerhouse chapter, that is essential to building a very strong foundation of how one works in Photoshop. This is especially true if you are new to the application as I am, or someone who has been struggling with Photoshop for a year or two.

To be honest the whole book is a powerhouse. In Section One, he gives us the
building blocks to work in Photoshop the correct way.

Mr Cross shows us how to categorize problems so we can then concentrate on
correcting them, instead of yelling NOOOOOOOOOOOOO at the screen and
just closing out the whole picture to start over again ( Oh come on, you know
you’ve been there!).

Why resetting Preferences is a better option most of the time then reinstalling
Photoshop, because a file became corrupt and will not play nicely…and of
course he tells you how to do it.

A list to live by, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to preventing
potential trouble. Oh and wait till you read his feather suggestion on page 7!
Nope, no hints. You will have to buy the book if you really want to know.

Specific settings in the option bar for specific tools. Well, I believe it covers
just about all the tools in the tools pallet. He also made sure to include nice,
clear B&W pictures in this section.

He has a section on warning dialog boxes…66 different ones if I counted right. What I like, is that he has put them all into their own proper class, together with a picture of each warning box. This includes reason the warning has appeared, how to fix it, and when suitable, how to prevent it. Furthermore chapter 4, Creating Flexible Documents, is a must read for anyone who wants to become a proficient Photoshop user.

Section 2 is what this book is really all about; nothing but Questions and Answers!
Woohoo!!!! 13 Chapters of Q&A to be exact. Yes, like the warning Dialog boxes,
he has taken the questions and put them into their proper categories. Chapter 5 is
General Operations, Chapter 6 is Preferences, Settings, and Colors. You get the idea.
However, I thought chapter 7 was really cool. It’s the Tools Q&A chapter! Need I say more? I could go on about this section because Mr. Cross has just covered so much information though out this section, but for the sake of time I won’t.

Section 3 is Customizing Photoshop. Oh yeah, make that software yours and show
it who is really boss! In this section Mr. Cross shows you how to create actions,
brushes, patterns, picture package layouts, contact sheets and much much more.

This is one book that will sit on my desk with a select few others, because I believe it will be a book that I will reach for often. This book is the Ace bandage for your Photoshop woes. Mr. Cross provides us with the information and the techniques to work the correct way in Photoshop. If you do nothing more then just read the first 2 chapters, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration when it comes to dealing with Photoshop. I really just cannot recommend this book highly enough. Mr. Cross has a great ability for explaining things, and it shows though out the book. He obviously enjoys helping other people help themselves. He has taken the time to explain in a clear, concise way, that even someone new to Photoshop will understand.

You can find this book at Amazon. It is reasonable priced and in my opinion worth
every cent.


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