Yesterday, I looked for "The Art of Photoshop" and didn't find it. However, I found "Art & Design in Photoshop" and "How to Cheat in Photoshop" by Steve Caplin. "Art and Design" included a CD-ROM and "How to Cheat" contains a DVD. I rarely use those, but my latest experience with watching videos is changing my mind. I might actually stick those disks into my computer to find out what is on them.
I've read through "Art and Design" already, it isn't one of those fat, try to cover everything books. It's a design book more than anything. And it's a practical design book. For example, there are times when you are trying to put an extracted person into a layout and it just doesn't quite work. The light isn't wrong, the person is a good scale to the rest of the layout and it looks wrong somehow. Mr. Caplin explains what's wrong in a single sentence. It's on page 37, in bold print. He also gives really good sample pictures of things that are both right and wrong throughout the book and explains why they are right and wrong. And in design, there is an actual right and wrong. Some things do not work. They don't convey the message you want to send to the viewer.
This book assumes that you already know how to make Photoshop go. It does not tell you where to find the tools, but it's got lots of useful information on how to make the tools produce textures or effects. It also has examples of different graphic styles and directions on how to get that result for yourself. If I wanted to melt a watch like Dali, I now know how to do it.
Is the book worth the $$$? That's really the guts of a product review. Yes. If I were to take a one hour class/seminar on a subject that I already knew well, and pay 50-100$ for the class, I might expect to walk away with one new fact, tip or way of doing things. I'm nowhere near knowing Photoshop well, so I got a lot of tips from this book. It did not cover a lot of things I already knew. The things I knew, it explained in practical ways, so I could use them in a layout.
I'm gonna go dink around with the techniques described in this book on my own. It' might take me a while to get around to posting a review of the other book I got yesterday.