Software Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements

This has been a long time coming. Really, I’m such a novice with this wicked tool, I probably shouldn’t even be writing this post. Even though this does not pertain to writing it self, I find Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 relevant to authors trying to design their own cover art.

I actually acquired this piece of software as a bonus when I purchased my graphic tablet way back in the spring. I’ve been using it off and on, but during the last couple of months I’ve been really trying to learn how to use this program. So what does Adobe have to say about their product??

The #1 selling consumer photo-editing software*, Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9 delivers powerful options that make it easy to create extraordinary photos, quickly share your memories in Online Albums and unique print creations, and automatically organize and protect all your photos and video clips. Now you can unclutter or repair any photo with a brush stroke; match the style of one favorite photo to another; and easily create stunning pop art, reflection, portrait effects, and more.

Save $40 on Adobe Photoshop Elements 9

I opened this program with a very rudimentary knowledge of graphic design. Basically, I could use it like the Paint program which comes in the Windows accessory 🙂 and understood what a layer was. I’ll tell you, understanding and knowing how to put layers to use were two different things.

First thing I realized about PSE was it isn’t an easy product to master. One doesn’t just open PSE and expect to be an instant pro at graphic design. It takes work… a lot of work to make anything look outstanding, in my opinion. My brief brushes with other graphic manipulation programs suggest this isn’t uncommon. However, if you’re familiar with a different graphic manipulation program, your knowledge should translate well to PSE.

So you’ve got lil o’ me who’s pretty clueless about photo manipulation. What I found was a wealth of information and tutorials online on how to use my nifty little product. My attempts usually didn’t turn out as beautiful as the examples, but it goes along the lines “practice makes perfect.”

With the tutorials by my side along with a bit of trial and error, I went to work. One thing for sure, PSE is a powerful tool. Most every tutorial I discovered I was able to do (though my attempts were sloppy). I did run into some problems with tutorials specific to Photoshop CS, but through a little research I found quite a few workarounds. Some methods I used to get a CS feel included downloading add-ons or using a different PSE tool.

The biggest benefit to using a tool such as PSE is the concept of layers. Oh how I love layers. Let’s take a look at the cover art below.

I counted 4 images and 17 layers for the above cover art. Others may be able to do it in fewer and a far better job. But as I mentioned, I’m just a lowly novice. 🙂  One of the things I like about the layers is the ability to use entire images without altering the actual image. Take for instance the tiger in the upper right corner. The image is of a tiger standing in grass with a rock formation behind it. Of course you don’t see all that in the finished product, but it’s still there in PSE. By grouping it with a level layer, I was able to blot out everything but the head while persevering the image. I love that. It means if I change my mind later down the road, I don’t have to worry about where I’m getting the image. It’s still there… as is. Then by changing the lighting, I got the see-through appearance.

Despite using PSE for a few months, I still don’t know enough about the product to detail every single feature. However, I will tell you I’m enjoying PSE greatly. I am so happy I got it as part of my Intuos4 package.

If you’d like to give PSE a try for free, Adobe offers a 30-day trial.

  • Don’t forget you can receive $40 off after the instant and mail in rebates through this link or the PSE image above. Offer expires January 5, 2011.
  • As an Adobe affiliate, I do receive a small compensation if you click through my links to make your purchase.

Memory Lane: Cover Art Take Two

I received quite a bit of feedback from my early cover art designs of Shadow Cat. Very helpful. I took them into consideration and got rid of the animated images which many said gave it an amateurish look.

If you don’t remember the first attempts, behold!

Shadow Cat Solid

When you’re done laughing, feel free to keep reading.

Originally I thought to replace the woman above with a photograph of a woman. Then I started to worry about sex appeal. I figured more women would be inclined to purchase Shadow Cat than men since it’d be listed under romance. So goodbye Lady. Hello, Mister.

I actually liked the one above… and I didn’t like it. Somewhere along the line I realized the importance of a background. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have more flesh. 🙂 And so the below cover art came to be.

Does this cover tempt you to want Shadow Cat for your very own? Why or why not? Inquiring minds want to know. Okay. I just want to know.

All of these examples I did in Photoshop Elements 7. If you’re interested in my review of the product, hop on over to the post.