AUGUST 22, 2001
by Stephen Schleicher
Every time a new version of a software application is released, there are always new features that users must get used to, old features that have been dropped or changed, new shortcuts to learn, changes in the interface and, of course, a bigger, thicker manual. For users who have been using the program for a while, adjusting to the new stuff can have a short or long learning curve, and new users can find themselves completely lost. While manuals are an excellent source of information, the printed media doesn't have the ability to show you how the application works without resorting to long tedious steps with no explanation as to why you are doing things that way. Luckily there are training videos available, and some of the best ones for Adobe products come from Total Training.
If you are a frequent reader of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer or many of the other sites in the Digital Media Net community, you have probably seen our streaming tutorials that will often touch on techniques for Adobe products. These are provided to us from Total Training and they give an excellent sneak peak at the full training series. This week I had some free time to sit down and look at one of their latest releases, Total Training for Adobe Photoshop 6.
In this very comprehensive set of videos, Photoshop Guru Deke McClelland covers all the ins and outs of Photoshop 6. Deke, with more than 50 books under his belt, has a superb understanding of Photoshop and explains things in an easy to understand way. With a good dose of humor and real world experience, Deke is an excellent instructor.
This 20-hour collection begins with a four-part series on the basics and is targeted toward those people who have not used Photoshop a lot or who are brand new to the program. Items covered in the first program range from setting up and navigating the program, dealing with resolution, saving images and more. Program 2 deals with selections and how to use them correctly, make modifications and make use of the transform tool. The third and fourth programs in the first series discuss in depth how to paint and retouch images and cover everything you ever wanted to know about layers. While the topics in this first series are basic, a casual to intermediate user may want to view the first four programs to discover some cool tips and tricks that you will not find in the manuals.
The second series delves further into Photoshop and discusses many things targeted toward the intermediate user. The fifth program discusses creating and manipulating masks. This is an excellent program and really clears up confusion users may have had over the years on the proper techniques to obtain a perfect mask. This program can be especially useful for those working in a postproduction-related field, where working with masks is a must. Programs six and seven talk about blending layers (another useful program for those in the post industry) and using vector-based shapes and how to edit them to fit your needs. Program eight is an "everything you need to know about the type tool but were afraid to ask" show. The mystery of creating rotating type is revealed here, as well as creating some very cool type effects. If you find yourself sometimes scratching your head over many of these concepts, then the second series is one you should definitely consider.
In the final series Deke shows Photoshop at its best. This is where the nitty gritty of putting Photoshop through its paces is covered. Color manipulation and the clear explanation of curves are covered in the first two hours. Adjustment layers and tips for using filters is discussed in programs 10 and 11. The final two hours cover history, actions and color management.
I mentioned earlier that this is a 20-hour collection that is broken into three different series. Each series can be purchased separately or as an entire collection (my recommendation). To make things even better, you have your choice of purchasing this collection on VHS or DVD. If you are like me and reference videos a lot, then you know how difficult it is to fast-forward and rewind to try and find that one particular section. The VHS version comes with a rundown and timing for each of the segments, but my preference is the DVD option. Most computers come with a built-in DVD player, and being able to watch and work on the same screen is quite handy. Regardless of your format preferences, the price is the same. As an added bonus, the series comes with a CD-ROM, which contains all of the projects and examples used in the training.
For more information about the Total Training for Adobe Photoshop 6 series, please visit http://www.totaltraining.com.
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Stephen Schleicher is the producer of Digital Animators and Digital WebCast and is the host of the Digital WebCast forum at the World Wide User Groups. He has taught at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, and at the American InterContinental University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he also ran his own animation company, Thunderhead Productions. Stephen also freelanced in the Atlanta area as a producer/editor for five years working on everything from training videos to live shows.