Written by industry experts and well-known Photoshop gurus, graphic design books are an overwhelming source of information and inspiration. They contain valuable tips and tricks, techniques and ideas that are very useful for any graphic designer regardless of their skill level.
By reading one or several of the books below and applying the theoretical or practical advice they contain, you can become more creative, improve your workflow, upgrade your overall skill as a graphic designer, and dramatically increase the quality of your work.
1. ‘Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual’ by Lesa Snider is a comprehensive guide for all the features of Photoshop CS5, starting from the basics, to the most advanced tools and techniques. It offers easy-to-understand instructions and clear explanations covering every important topic, accompanied by screenshots and before/after images. It starts with a guide tour of Photoshop CS5, a walkthrough of the basics of image editing, then delves into the artistic side of Photoshop by explaining painting, vector drawing, creative text and filters. It also covers designing for print or web, explains how to streamline your workflow by using actions and provides a guide to using a wide range of plug-ins.
2. ‘The Fundamentals of Graphic Design’ by Paul Harris doesn’t teach you how to design; instead, it explains everything you need to know about the graphic design industry. It starts off with an introduction that defines graphic design and its present role in the Digital Age, and then expands onto issues such as industrialization, social responsibility and branding. It moves on to providing an outline of the graphic design process, including its various stages and approaches to creating quality output, potential sources of inspiration and ways of delivering effective messages. The last chapters show you how to promote your services through an online portfolio, and explain in detail how the production process takes place.
3. ‘Photoshop For Right-Brainers: The Art of Photomanipulation’ by Al Ward is a very insightful guide for any graphic designer that wants to unleash his imagination and learn how to create special effects and manipulate digital images like a pro. It requires you to be familiar with the basics of Photoshop, but the techniques and tips presented can be used in any version of Photoshop CS. The book presents the fundamental tools and techniques used in photomanipulation and teaches you how to enhance portraits, from the most subtle changes to the most dramatic. It also focuses on a wide variety of effects, ranging from surreal creatures and landscapes, to real world effects, creative advertising and using the human body as your canvas.
4. ‘Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature’ by Matt Kloskowski is a book that truly lives up to its title. It contains all the information you need to become a pro at working with Photoshop layers: from the basics, to the most advanced techniques, it covers everything you need to know about this topic. It explains in great detail every aspect about layers, such as using: blending modes, adjustment layers, layer masks, type and shape layers, smart layers and layer styles. It also showcases useful techniques you can use to retouch, enhance photos and mimic photographic effects.
5. ‘How to Cheat in Photoshop CS5: The Art of Creating Realistic Photomontage’ by Steve Caplin is a thoroughly detailed guide to combining images together to create very realistic results that resemble actual photographs. The book covers many advanced techniques that are useful when creating photomontages, such as: types of selection, transformation and distortion, working with layers, adjusting images, composition, perspective, realistic textures, 3D objects, special effects, shadows/highlights, creating reflections and more.
6. ‘Beyond Photoshop: Advanced techniques integrating Photoshop with Illustrator, Poser, Painter, Cinema 4D and ZBrush’ by Derek Lea is a one of a kind graphic design book that shows you how to use Photoshop in conjunction with five other software packages and how to produce stunning, creative results. Four chapters are dedicated to using Photoshop and Illustrator together, while the others show you how to combine Photoshop work with 3D components generated in Cinema 4D, ZBrush and Poser. It also teaches you how to create a highly detailed digital painting by using Painter and Photoshop. Except for the Illustrator chapters, the book requires you to have a graphic tablet to complete the tutorials and to be an intermediate user of Photoshop.
7. ‘Art and Design in Photoshop’ by Steve Caplin shows you how to create a variety of graphic design elements that surround us on a daily basis. It starts off by dedicating a whole chapter to typography and another one to the principles of graphic design. Then it fully covers important topics, such as creating: magazine, music albums and book covers, different styles of posters, various types of product packaging, line art, advertising, pixel art, newspaper pages and more. It also delves into other miscellaneous, but very useful effects and teaches you how to mimic the paintings of 15 great artists.