Wednesday, December 14, 2011

REVIEW: Photoshop Compositing Secrets

Photoshop Compositing Secrets is the latest book by Photoshop Guru Matt Kloskowski. For those of you who have seen him on Photoshop User TV, Kelby Training, etc… you know he’s a pretty talented Photoshop master. Many readers of this blog took their work with layers to the next level with his book Layers (Layers 1st Edition review), so I’m sure if you are wondering if this book is just as good.

First Impressions

I read a lot of books, so the more I reader the more cynical I get. As someone who works 80+ hours a week, I have little tolerance for books that waste my time. I’m very happy to report that this book was a very good use of my time, and honestly I think it’s the strongest book Matt has done thus far. Granted, I didn’t read the 2nd edition of his Layers book, but I’ve tossed other compositing books in the garbage pretty quickly for being utterly useless.

What Chapters Should You Read?

When given enough time I like to do chapter by chapter comments on books so I can give you a good idea of what’s worth your time and what’s skipping, but for this book I found everything but chapters 12 & 13 to be worth a close read. Now there was nothing wrong with chapters 12 & 13, but they are just chapters that seem rather simple and lame by the time you get to that part of the book. If they would have been chapters 2 & 3 I probably would have thought differently.

Despite the advice in the book, I do encourage reading the chapters in order. I find that he does build up on concepts that make them easier to digest if you follow them in order.

Read This Book At Your Desk

I encourage you to be next to a computer where you try out the techniques described as that repetition will burn the concepts into your brain so that they are second nature. In fact, I strongly encourage you to create the tough masks yourself rather than using the included files that already have the mask as that’s the stuff that will transfer to be most applicable to your own work. Yes it is hard and time consuming, but it’s worth seeing how the techniques in this book can really help you.


I think this is a good book for the intermediate to advanced Photoshop user. While Matt does a good job of explaining things in a simple way, it is still not quite as “step by step” as Scott Kelby’s books (especially 7 Point System). While that could frustrate some, I think most will find that they are able to get the same results as Matt by following along. There are some great examples and lots of new techniques that I haven’t seen discussed anywhere before.

I’m jazzed after reading this book because I feel like I picked up about ten new tricks to my Photoshop skill set. In fact I marked them all with post-it flags so I can get back to them quickly.

I think you’ll love this book if you like Peachpit or Kelby style books. I also appreciate how he shows how you can do certain things directly in Photoshop, but he also shows how its even easier when you use products like Nik Software’s Color Efex Tonal Contrast (which is vastly improved in 4.0).

This book has great bang for the book, good examples, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I’d suggest to your loved ones that it would make an excellent stocking stuffer!

This book will be added as a recommended additional reading in my popular What Photoshop Books Should I Read?  article.

Ordering Info

Click here to order Photoshop Compositing Secrets. It is available in both printed and Kindle versions. I saw it on a friends Kindle Fire and it looks awesome – that’s the way to go for electronic photography books.

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