Book Review: LAYERS by Matt Kloskowski

layers-cover.jpgThree weeks ago I got an email from Friend-of-the-Blog Matt Kloskowski letting me know about his new book, Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature, with an offer of sending me a copy. Of course I said yes!

Well it arrived in the mail on Tuesday and when I finally got the chance to open it Wednesday morning I just couldn’t put it down! I’ve been working with Photoshop for about 6 years now and I’ve drunk the NAPP Kool-Aid so I’m an old hand at layers and how they work. I’ve seen all the tutorials and videos on everything Matt talks about in the book. But I have to say, even though I’ve picked up all of this information over the years, I wish I had a resource like this when I was just starting out.

I remember the turning points in my understanding of Photoshop, and the quality of work I produced, was when I first learned about adjustment layers and masks, working on a duplicate layer, sampling all layers when cloning and healing, and working with blend modes. All of which are layed out in the book.

From the start, Matt walks us through the basic concept of the digital layer using a very analog method. He starts drawing with a marker on a photo print and asks, “what would happen if you tried to erase what you just drew?” Damage to the photo during erasure would be certain, even moreso if you used a permanent marker and can’t erase at all. Then, he places a transparency overtop of another print and does the same thing. The difference? Using a dry-erase marker means you can erase easily or, if you don’t like what you’ve done, you can throw the transparency away and start over with a new one.

From there, Matt builds each new concept on the last in the same manner as we’ve come to expect from the whole NAPP team. Everything is explained in a clear way, complete with detailed screen captures to illustrate the hows and whys and how it all fits together.

Chapters move from the basics of working with layers through to, blending, adjustment layers, masking, working with type and shapes, enhancements, retouching, layer styles, and all the way to the revolutionary smart layers. Readers are given access to all of the images used in the book as well as a couple of videos in the style of Matt’s well-known tutorials that you’ve been watching for years.

Whether you’re an advanced user already and want to figure out a good method of teaching layers or if you’re a layer rookie just learning the ropes, Layers is a great place to start.

Visit my Amazon Store to pick up your copy today!

Also, next week look for a video on creating the cool “layers” effect used on the cover!

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