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20th October 2005
Commercial Photoshop Retouching In The Studio book review
by Ian Burley

Discover the secrets of a professional photo retouch artist using Adobe Photoshop

Commercial Photoshop Retouching In The Studio Author: Glenn Honiball
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 260
CD/DVD included?: No
ISBN 059600849X
Jacket price: UKú31.95, US$44.95
We have Amazon discounts available at the end of this page.

Glenn Honiball has been preparing photo images for commercial publishing for twenty years. That's a fair old time to develop lots of great tips and techniques that work to spruce up ordinary images and also optimise them for commercial print press reproduction. Use of Photoshop for Web image preparation is not covered. If you fancy honing your skills in order to produce polished images suitable for commercial illustration in books, newspapers and magazine or poster advertising, then read on.

Covers several Photoshop versions
Commercial Photoshop Retouching In The Studio is aimed squarely at people who are at home with Adobe Photoshop. You don't need the very latest version to make use of the book; most of its examples and tutorials will work with Photoshop 7.0 or even earlier releases. Honiball doesn't assume you are a Photoshop or print press expert, either and carefully explains key concepts along the way. Besides covering topics that help you to make photos look better from a basic point of view, Honiball also covers areas involving the integration of subjects with different backgrounds and creating natural looking lighting effects. To achieve composite results, masking and extraction are covered in detail. There is also plenty of information concerning the use of Photoshop with CMYK images and how to optimise these for print press reproduction, including sections on newsprint and packaging materials.

The book isn't totally about Photoshop and starts off with a chapter that explores the needs and setup of a professional retoucher and his or her studio. This includes some general information about good workstation posture, choosing the right kind of monitor and some simple references to colour management. Honiball also introduces the concept of a RIP (Raster Image Processor), which is pretty essential for serious commercial pre-press work. He then looks at the workflow of a retoucher and gives some tips regarding the relationship between a retoucher and the client.

Understanding and recreating the effects of lighting
In the second chapter the important issue of how the effects of lighting, especially in terms of shadows, can be manipulated or even artificially introduced, to sometimes radically improve the impact of an image. There are some particularly good examples using still life subjects. Honiball asks you to look at a picture that might have a great or essential subject, but at was poorly lit at the time of the shoot and to imagine how the lighting should have been.

Improvements on reality
Chapter 3 uses the description "Improvements on Reality" in its title, though this could equally well apply to the following chapter on using subtle effects add details that were missing in the original image. Honiball covers basic correction and cloning techniques, how to add texture, including adding noise to improve an image, brightening and optimising colours. There are also tutorials on creating motion from stillness, making a face smile, plus creating natural effects like smoke or steam.

Pre-press theory and practice
Print press colour theory and requirements are explored in chapter 5, including how to manipulate the colour of an image to improve the final printed appearance. The following chapter looks at advanced techniques for merging images seamlessly, while chapter 7 looks at solutions for making relatively small images suitable for large scale reproduction as posters or on billboards. Finally, there are two chapters that look at the preparation of images for newsprint and for use on packaging materials. Specific technical requirements of commercial printers are explained in these sections too.

Unlike some other O'Reilly titles covering Photoshop techniques, no supplementary training video CD is included, which I feel could have enhanced this book very usefully. Nevertheless, the book itself is well written and easy to follow with excellent illustrations supporting the tutorials. If you are new to the world of commercial pre-press photo imaging, Commercial Photoshop Retouching In The Studio will undoubtedly set you on the right track for success.

Overall ratings
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