New eBook From Smashing Magazine: Mastering Photoshop For Web Design


Mastering Photoshop for Web Design is the third book in our eBook series, and it’s definitely the best eBook we’ve published so far. It was written from scratch by our regular writer Thomas Giannattasio, exclusively for Smashing Magazine and its readers. We are very proud of the result, in particular because of the high quality of tips, ideas and techniques that Thomas — who is a deep expert in Adobe Photoshop — presents in his book.

Update (January 2013): The e-book is now available for $4.99 (€4.49)

Mastering Photoshop is written for advanced and intermediate designers who want to brush up on their workflow and improve their Photoshop skills. The eBook contains 178 pages, explaining fundamental techniques that Web designers need to know to produce high-quality work in Photoshop. You won’t find any generic step-by-step tutorials or learn random effects. You will gain a profound understanding of what you can do with Photoshop and how to use it effectively in your work.

All chapters have undergone a careful technical review by well-known designer, illustrator and speaker Elliot Jay Stocks2. The book was proofread by our regular proofreader Andrew Lobo, and it has an attractive layout. The PDF can be printed and read on all devices.

The Author

Thomas GiannattasioThomas Giannattasio is an interactive designer who resides in the Washington DC metro area. He specializes in Web design and front-end development, particularly art direction, website design and application design, and has 14 years of experience. Thomas cares strongly about typography, simplicity and user experience. He works as a senior designer for a global marketing firm and freelances under the name attasi.

Thomas’ articles on Smashing Magazine prove his expertise in Photoshop: The Ails of Typographic Anti-Aliasing3 and Unknown Photoshop Tricks and Time-Savers4 are two of the most useful Photoshop-related articles that Smashing Magazine has published over the years.

The Expert’s Opinion

Elliot Jay Stocks“Photoshop is a powerful tool, and although the basics can be easy to grasp, mastering the application can be extremely difficult. This is where Mastering Photoshop comes in: it takes readers through the app in depth and relates all tasks back to the creative process. There’s much to learn in here, for beginners and experts alike.”

— Elliot Jay Stocks, designer, illustrator and speaker

The eBook, in PDF, ePUB and Mobipocket format, is ideal for archiving, for armchair or mobile reading (including the iPad and iPhone via iBooks and other apps) and of course for printing. You can order your copy of Mastering Photoshop for just $19,905 (or €16.95 if you live in the EU) starting now and exclusively in our Smashing Shop.


Buy the book now!7

The book contains eight chapters:

  1. Color Management
    Colors can appear lighter or darker, more or less saturated, cooler or warmer, or just plain wrong depending on the user’s environment. This can be quite a problem, especially with a client’s brand-specific colors. As Web designers, our responsibility is to ensure that the experiences we craft are as true to the original as possible.
  2. Paths
    While Illustrator’s vector tools are much more powerful, Photoshop’s benefit lies in its ability to blend vector and raster data together seamlessly. Because Photoshop documents are based on a pixel grid, the path tools in Photoshop make them superior to Illustrator for designing on-screen media.
  3. Layer Styles
    Layer Styles are essential to creating flexible and non-degradable documents, because they’re separated from the layer’s actual content. In this chapter, we’ll cover how to create great-looking and reusable styles. We’ll also cover some unique effects and non-typical uses that help to consolidate excess layers.
  4. Brushes
    Mastering the digital brush is by no means easy. It carries the same difficulties as the sable brush hidden at the bottom of your art bin. In fact, the difficulty is multiplied by the disconnect between the hand and monitor. Developing Photoshop brush skill takes time, but it is well worth the effort.
  5. Typography
    While the majority of type on the Web is rendered by HTML, Photoshop is still necessary to handle treatment beyond the grasp of CSS. In this chapter, we’ll explore Photoshop’s type tools and discover ways to maximize the software’s typesetting capabilities.
  6. Photography
    A photograph — especially of the human face — immediately draws the user’s attention and can be used to direct eye flow to important areas of the page. Placing a large photograph above the fold is a common way to provide an entry point to the content. Because photographs are high above other elements in the hierarchy, they need to be handled with care and precision.
  7. Exporting
    Once you’ve polished every last pixel, it’s time to get your work into the browser. This is a pretty straightforward process, but properly optimizing your images is crucial. You need to maintain a balance between clarity and download speed. This requires multiple formats, varying levels of compression and other optimization techniques. In this chapter, we’ll explore the workflow of exporting images via the “Save for Web and Devices” dialog.
  8. Summary

Sample Chapter and Screenshots

You can download the Chapter 4, Brushes8 (4.7 Mb, PDF) for free. Please consider buying the eBook if you find it useful or helpful.

Large view10

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Motivation behind the book

In the foreword, Thomas describes his motivation:

“This book was written in the hope of filling a gap — a gap that has existed for as long as designers have been using Photoshop for Web design; a gap that we so often fill with tutorials focused on the latest trends and on inspiration galleries that are quickly browsed and forgotten; a gap that is growing as quickly as our technologies. It’s a gap of foundation.

The fast pace of the Internet has focused us on the latest and greatest techniques, which typically have a lifespan of only a few months. Rarely do we focus on the fundamentals — the principles that outlive the trends. Unfortunately, the principles often appeal to us less than the shiny and new.

Photoshop tutorials offer quick results. They hold our hands step by step until something incredible appears, but they rarely explain in depth the principles that allow us to create something unique and incredible of our own. If you’re a beginner, I hope this book gives you the comprehension you need to bring your ideas to life. If you’re a veteran, I hope it unveils some of the mysteries that have always boggled you.”

The book is not protected by DRM and is available exclusively in the Smashing Shop. Please respect our work and the hard effort of our writer. If you received this book from a source other than the Smashing Shop, please support us by purchasing your copy in our online store.


Thank you.


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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    I as well will vote for the printed copy.. It is a bit overpriced for an eBook but this is not the biggest problem. Reading long pieces of text on screens is just not for me.
    I have the SM book and really like it..

    Sorry but I will personally skip this one..

  2. 102

    If that was $10 I’d buy it. But considering all of the amazing stuff you write on here FOR FREE, I just can’t justify spending 20 bucks on an ebook.

    But I hope some wealthy designers out there do buy it. The effort you guys put into this site is unbelievable! :)

  3. 203

    Support the authors everyone, if this were in stores it would be $40+ for sure.

  4. 304

    In other news, who’s forcing you to buy this book?

  5. 405

    Vitaly. From the comments, compare how many people would have bought the book at $10 to how many people have actually bought it. Do the maths. You are losing money.

    I thought one of those “how to improve your brand and sales” posts preached listening and acting upon customer feedback.

    On another note, is there an affliate system in place for your books? I’d be interested in that.

  6. 506

    Yet another “would have” reaction haha. Well i dont mind the price (and i don’t understand soo many people complaining about it, geuss creatives must be paid really bad) but i don’t read e-books because im in front of a screen too many hours a day allready.

    SM look after the eye health of your community and sell printed!

  7. 607

    Your previous book was very great.
    Good work sire !
    I’ll buy this one.

  8. 708

    When I was trying to purchase this book using PayPal .. I got this message because I put my home country Libya in the billing details. This book will be delivered electronically, So why the shipping details.

    Unable to process payment. Please contact the merchant as the shipping address provided by the merchant is invalid, and the merchant has requested that your order must be shipped to that address.

  9. 809

    This looks awesome. Gonna have to wait until I have a bit more spending money, though…and maybe when I can finally get an iPad to read it on. Like some of the others, I don’t tend to read at my computer often because I work at it all the time. Looking forward to buying this in the future. :)

    P.S. It’s not a limited time offer, right? I can still buy this a few months from now?

  10. 910

    Youre guys so funny – “buy now” 3 times? You really wanna say “dont buy this shit” right?

  11. 1011

    This book is so cool. I bought it 2 days ago and I am in more than half. Thanks SM !

  12. 1112

    Nice book…….thanks a lot to share these experience.

  13. 1213

    I bought this book and read it. This is just a basic introduction to PS, not a guide to making better designs. I’m not very satisfied as I just got ripped off.

  14. 1314

    I was really interested in the chapter discussing shape layers as a means to create web objects. Unfortunately, not much information is provided beyond an explanation of what shape layers are.

    I realize this book is for intermediate to advanced web designers, but I still think a few simple tutorials or examples of using shape layers to creating buttons, backgrounds, etc. would have been helpful. I have found myself on multiple occasions reading this book, then searching the web for tutorials on how to use the features it talks about (in which case I might as well have just read the table of contents).

    One last thing. Note that many of the 178 pages are tables of keyboard shortcuts. Note there is still a lot of content, but this is not the end-all-be-all book for designing with Photoshop.

  15. 1415

    As someone who was under the impression this book would be a guide on how to design websites using Photoshop, it surely is not.

    All summed up, it takes you through the program and how to use the basic features and tools…

    And having only skimmed through the book, I will still read it; however, I would suggest for $10 more you get a printed copy of Photoshop: The Missing manual, at over 800 pages long — four times as much information than this 177 page book.

    On another note, video has always provided the best understanding possible and tends to speed up the learning curve a bit.

    Although, the Smashing website is a great and I would recommend maybe buying to support the website.

  16. 1516

    Hey Smashing Mag,

    Thanks so much for creating a book on Photoshop. I’ve been waiting for a while to return back to you guys for the awesome free articles on your site. Previous titles didn’t sound to attractive to me except for this one and the Smashing Book (which I really wish was sold in ebook format).

    I’m no great designer, just a programmer who knows HTML and CSS by spending time every now and then at SM. And after reading this book for a while, I’ve learnt some design principles that I would keep in mind for future projects.

    The price isn’t expensive if you compare it to other proper ebooks out there (such as There’s no price to knowledge, anyway. And I’m not paying for this ebook alone, but for the other stuff that the SM team has given away for free before.

    IMO, Mastering Photoshop hits the sweet spot, in so many ways. Thanks!

    – Andrew

  17. 1617

    Looks great, but $19.90 is expensive for PDF.

  18. 1718

    Is this book ever going to be published as a pocketbook or similar? I would like to have but reading an entire book of a computer screen is not appealing. And i think this book could really help me alot.

  19. 1819

    Fireworks is/was a good idea when it came out but sadly PhotoShop is the best graphics package for pixel based design of any kind, and this includes screen based web design. I know Fireworks is what we are told to use but we know better! p.s $20 is fine for an ebook but I have a horrible feeling its not a project based book but a manual that goes through things like color mode and brush dynamics…I may be wrong?

  20. 1920
  21. 2021

    Cracking blog post!!


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