We were crazy to take on this book when we started in 1993, and we're no less crazy today. If we weren't, we wouldn't have tried to unravel such an insanely complex subject. We don't claim to have the ultimate answers, but the answers we do have are tried, tested, and effective. The methods presented in this book may not be the only way to get good results from Photoshop, but they're the product of endless days and nights of research and testing, of badgering anyone we thought might have an answer with endless questions, then trying to present these insights in some coherent form. (Bruce vaguely remembers wondering, while making coffee at 4 AM, why one of his kitchen faucets was labeled "cyan"....)
While our grasp on reality may have occasionally been tenuous during the production of this book, the techniques we present are firmly grounded in the real worldhence the title.
How the Book Is Organized
The biggest problem we face in writing about Photoshop is not just that it's the "deepest" program we've ever used, but that almost every technique and feature relies on every other technique and feature. It's impossible to talk about Photoshop without circular reasoning.
However, we have tried to impose some structure to the book. In the first five chapters, we attempt to lay the groundwork for the rest of the book, covering Building a Photoshop System, Essential Photoshop Tips and Tricks, Image Essentials, Color Essentials, and Color Settings (all the color management stuff). We put all this information first because it's patently impossible to be effective in Photoshop without it.
Once we've laid the groundwork, we jump into really working with images. In the next four chapters, we explore techniques you'll want to employ with almost every image you work with in Photoshop: Image Adjustment Fundamentals; The Digital Darkroom; Making Selections; and Sharpness, Detail, and Noise Reduction.
The origin and type of the images you work with determine what you can or need to do with them, so the next two chapters discuss these issues: Spot Colors and Duotones; and Building a Digital Workflow.
In the course of any book project, the authors find that they have a boat-load of information that simply doesn't fit any single category. Fortunately, we're lucky enough to have a chapter called Essential Image Techniques. The tips in this chapter are like the tools in your toolboxyou never know when you'll need one, so it's good to have the whole box nearby.
Sometimes it's hard to remember that there is life outside of Photoshop. In the last two chapters of the book, we show how to get those images out of Photoshop into the real world: Image Storage and Output, and Multimedia and the Web.