Book Review: Photoshop CS6: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider

Photoshop CS6: The Missing Manual by Lesa SniderAn 800-pound gorilla deserves an 800-page book, and I mean that in a good way. Photoshop CS6 is no bloat ware; it is big because it packs so much power with tons of features that are really useful for various types of imaging people – photographers, graphics artists, illustrators, etc. If you have to work with photos and images in any way, all the tools you need are there in Photoshop CS6. But it is a monster-sized application.

How do you then get a handle on something as big as Photoshop? Enter: Photoshop CS6 – The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider, all 862 pages of it. It is a big book because its subject is big. And it’s meant to cover all bases, discuss all of Photoshop CS6’s features and point out a lot of useful techniques. Whether you’re new to Photoshop or a grizzled pro, there’s something for you in this big book.

Question you might ask is, “Do I have to read all 862 pages for me to be able to use Photoshop?” No, you don’t have to. You can go straight to what you need to read by finding it in its very well laid out Table of Contents. For example, if you’ve had some experience with Photoshop and wanted only to combine images for, say, a poster, then just read Chapter 7 to learn how to cut out an image from a photo, pasting it into a selection or another document, swap a sky if needed, then understand the effects of Layer Blend Modes. Then, perhaps you would want to jump to Chapter 14 to learn how to add artistic text to your poster.

But if you’re an absolute beginner, then you have to read Chapters 1 and 2 first to cover the basics. You’ll have a guided tour of Photoshop CS6 in Chapter 1 which introduces the interface and its many tools. Chapter 2 will be on opening, viewing and saving files in Photoshop, nothing scary. Then, once you get the basics, you can jump to whatever topic you need to read.

This new book (it came out in May 2012) speaks in plain American English. It’s easy to understand because it does not befuddle you with technical jargon. It proceeds right away to what you need to understand and do.

Because the book is big, author Lesa Snider thoughtfully subdivided it into five major chunks (actually 6, with Part 6: Appendices downloadable from the publisher’s website):

Part One: The Basics
Part Two: Editing Images
Part Three: The Artistic Side of Photoshop
Part Four: Printing and the Web
Part Five: Photoshop Power

The book’s detailed Table of Contents alone will fill up a little booklet by itself and will occupy too much space for this review. There is a TOC available on the book’s website ( Click on Browse Content or download the book’s PDF sampler to read the detailed TOC as printed in the book. The detailed TOC has sub-topics under each main topic so the reader can easily find what he/she needs to read. The book also provides a link where the reader may download the needed files to follow along the detailed instructions described in the sample projects.

For photographers, the author laid out a thoughtful road map to follow so Photoshop would be less daunting. Lesa spells this out early in page 7 so photographers may tackle the application in digestible chunks, using only the features necessary for post processing photographs.

If you want to learn Photoshop thoroughly, this is the book to go to. This is the new Photoshop bible. Photoshop User Magazine Editor and Publisher Scott Kelby said so on the book’s cover: “Lesa did a great job on this book, and in my mind, it’s the new Photoshop bible.” Kelby himself is coming out with his own book, The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers due out this July focused mainly for photographers. If you’re not only a photographer but also an aspiring graphics designer, digital artist or illustrator, the book to read is Lesa’s. It’s highly recommended. Lesa’s book completely covers all you need and want to know about Photoshop.

As the title suggests, this is the missing manual that should have come with Photoshop when you bought it. I would even go a step further to recommend to Adobe Systems Inc to bundle this $50 book with Photoshop to make users of their $700 software happy.

Lesa Snider is a photographer, writer and teacher of all things Photoshop and is a long-time member of the Photoshop World Dream Team of instructors. She teaches in many conferences around the world.

[Site: O’Reilly]

Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.