How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 10 is a book by David Asch & Steve Caplin, published by Focal Press. And it's good: in fact, we think Adobe should include this book with every copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 it sells.

How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 10, which also covers versions 6 onwards, is available in the PC Advisor Learning Store for less than £20 and at just over 300 pages is only slightly shorter than many of its rival publications. See also: Adobe Photoshop CS6 review.

The book has 12 fully illustrated chapters, each containing multiple double page projects covering just one aspect of the software. For example, Working With Layers has eight double page spreads that give easy step-by-step instructions on importing images as layers, how layers interact, adding styles and so on.

Other chapters have up to 18 little projects to work through and the book is designed and bound so as to allow it to be propped open in front of your computer screen as you tackle each new skill.  

Now here's the best part for me: the book makes available an online set of resources that match all the projects in the book. You simply log on to the website, enter your credentials and download the original images that are used in the book. You can then follow the illustrations and mirror the job yourself.  

Although I am no graphic designer, I have created the odd website, designed a few posters and used free resources to manipulate photographs and images for that purpose - Google Picasa, Irfanview, GIMP plus a few other basic editing software titles from PCA Cover Discs. I was under the impression that Elements was a severely cut down version of the full Photoshop. How wrong I was. I can now see why Elements commands a £60-£70 price tag and just how worth that money it is to people.

The authors not only claim that Elements has 90 percent of the features of its big brother but show you just how powerful that claim is with practical demonstration. The online resources also include nearly 50 video tutorials in real time, duplicating the projects in the book. If it didn't quite work from your own initial efforts you can sneak off to the internet and watch it demonstrated.

There are also several free downloads of shapes and layer styles to add to your own collection.  What I like about this simple style of training is that it's fun and interactive. The book is also great for reading on the move and planning your next personal project. If you wondered how to achieve something with your own images you just might find the answer within its pages and read the theory before putting it into practice.

Furthermore it will open your eyes to see what else can be achieved from features and cheats you have never heard of before. I like the hot tips on most pages that cover another aspect of the relevant topic that you might need yourself and the “Interlude” at the end of each chapter that discusses more general topics about photo manipulation – these alone make excellent reading on the bus or train.  I can see very few drawbacks to this book at all. The one which might cause initial cause for concern is that the authors predominantly use keyboard shortcuts to access the tools and features of the program.

Whilst they are well indicated for both PC and Mac users I suspect that many new users of the software will be more accustomed to using the file menus or icons and this book barely gives them a mention except in the introduction. There is however a good reference illustration of the icons, shortcuts and the layers dialog box.  

All in all there is much to like about this book and recommend. See also: Group test: what's the best technology reference book?

See also: Best Photoshop books

How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 10: Specs

  • Author: Asch, David
  • Caplin, Steve ISBN: 0240820479 ISBN 13: 9780240820477 Published by: Focal Press Date Published: Dec 2011 User level: Beginner/Intermediate Number of pages: 311
  • Author: Asch, David
  • Caplin, Steve ISBN: 0240820479 ISBN 13: 9780240820477 Published by: Focal Press Date Published: Dec 2011 User level: Beginner/Intermediate Number of pages: 311


How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 10 covers the basics without drowning the reader in advanced techniques and doesn't claim to make you an expert in a couple of hours. It will either be a reference volume for dipping into occasionally and when you need a reminder or it will become addictive, driving you onwards to master every technique available.