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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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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

Large view12

Large view14

Motivation behind the book Link

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.

Footnotes Link

  1. 1
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  3. 3 ../2009/11/02/the-ails-of-typographic-anti-aliasing/
  4. 4 ../2010/01/20/obscure-adobe-photoshop-time-savers/
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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 UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Shame there is no printed version… I tend to prefer printed books rather than PDFs… Anyway, looks great!


    • 2

      Yea, I MUCH prefer printed books. PDF books have almost zero interest to me. I read the Smashing Book while going to the bathroom over the course of 4 months, just a few pages at a time. That’s pretty much how I read, lol. Either that or on my nightstand. I work in digital all day long, somtimes I just like to relax and hold a book or magazine in my hands. I subscribe to Maximum PC and Popular Mechanics, not interested in their web sites howerver. Somthing to consider SM, some of us digital people like PRINT!

    • 3

      I was really hoping for some fabulous tricks on using PhotoShop for the web, this book is more of an instruction guide and overview of PhotoShop’s tools

  2. 4


  3. 5

    Pete Morley

    July 27, 2010 4:45 am

    You’d probably sell four or five times as many of these books if they were priced at a fiver, just saying. I can’t justify 17 Euros on an eBook until after payday. Shame.

    • 6

      Vitaly Friedman

      July 27, 2010 4:59 am

      I understand your scepticism. But the thing is that we’ve invested a lot of work into preparing this eBook, and Tom has done a tremendous job on writing it, so selling it for $5 just doesn’t sound right. I am sorry.

      I assure you that the information in the book is well worth it.

      • 7

        Pete Morley

        July 27, 2010 5:16 am

        I’m not saying that it’s not worth the money, I’m sure it is and I’m sure that Thomas has put a lot of effort in. You’d probably make more money by selling your eBooks at a more accessible price as more people would be inclined to take a gamble and buy them. Would you rather sell a few hundred books at 17 Euros, or a few thousand at 5?

        Take David duChemin’s model as an example. He sells his eBooks by the bucket load. I’ve purchased a couple in the past without thinking twice about it and I’m always keeping my eyes open for his next release.

      • 8


        July 27, 2010 8:18 am

        I agree, why should you go to all that effort and sell it for budget price … 19.90 is hardly expensive for the content it provides … keep up the good work!

        • 9

          I was just about to purchase the book until I noticed that it was only available as a downloadable e-book. I agree, it is for sure worth the price in a matter of content, but knowing that for almost the same price I got the printed Smashing Book and on amazon other Photoshop books are on average just a little bit more pricey (but include shipping) I can’t really see it getting justified. I love the touch of paper in my hands, printed content is a million times more valuable to me. besides that, reading on screen is straining my eyes and printing it is only making it more expensive and overall clumsy. I would have liked to pay a little more so I would have been able to hold it or at least to have it displayed on my bookshelf.

          • 10

            I agree. While I’m sure this book has great content. I’m not really interested in e-books. Perhaps if it were half the price ($9.99) for the e-book and $19.99 for a printed copy. I would even opt to buy the printed copy over a half price e-book as I much prefer to read off paper, it’s also far handier to toss a book in your bag. With this model I think you’ll cover a much larger audience which in turn will increase your ROI.

          • 11

            For God’s sake, get over yourself. You love the feel of paper? Do you want a sexual experience or do you want to learn something? The value is not determined by how it is packaged, but by the info it contains that will improve your skills or make you money. I am reading books like this on my iPad. Try it, it will change your life.

          • 12

            @Doug The medium is the message. The book does have GREAT content but that’s just part of it. Those of us that read this blog care about the experience too. There is something about a printed book that allows for a shared experience an ebook is unable to provide.

            So yes, value is also in the packaging (however not totally inclusive). Content is the most important thing. Not true. If content is the most important thing then delivery cannot be. Both content and delivery play equal roles.

        • 13

          Russell Wayne Webster

          July 29, 2010 1:17 pm

          This is a bargain!!!!!

      • 14

        jason the designer

        July 27, 2010 1:27 pm

        SM: I bought the printed version of your last book and thought it rocked for the pricepoint.

        I too am more inclined to read a book than a PDF (I am 38… showing my age? lol)

        Maybe offer a Lulu link for peeps who want a printed copy?


      • 15

        Hey Doug not everybody has the same experience as you do… people are making valid comments about the book.. respect them don’t slam them!

      • 16

        Yeah, sell it lass expansive and you will sell more, and gain more money… Its a E-book, sell 100 copies or 1000000 cost the same to you..

        • 17

          Pete Morley

          July 28, 2010 7:12 am

          Logic doesn’t seem to work here Fernando. The amount of lost sales in the comments alone compared to the amount of people who said they’ve bought the book should be an eye opener.

      • 18

        Jason the Designer

        July 28, 2010 8:07 am

        After seeing this thread I received an email from Rockable Press for their new e-Book for, yes, $39. I had received a $20 voucher in my email for being on their list, but for the rest of the world who isn’t… $39 for an ebook on blogging?

        Makes this one look like a steal.

      • 19

        Vincent Pollard

        July 29, 2010 7:29 am

        i agree. it’s priced to high for a PDF. i’d buy it at $10 but $20 is too much.

  4. 20

    Caleb Kester

    July 27, 2010 4:47 am

    Looks very interesting! Once I get a good way to read e-books I’ll have to consider this!

  5. 21

    Bruno Paiva

    July 27, 2010 5:01 am

    the price is so expensive for an ebook!

    • 22

      Vitaly Friedman

      July 27, 2010 5:07 am

      Sorry. But please read my comment above.

      • 23

        Vitaly, don’t apologise. I have no doubt it’s worth the price, and I’d also be happy to spare a few more dollars to fund such a good cause as SM and its authors.

      • 24

        i double the previous reply

        • 25

          I agree. I think of all the awesome articles on SM that have helped me over the past couple years and what I’ll get from this book and it’s an easy decision for me.

          Sometimes you have to look past what the “market rate” for things are and pay for their value. I’m sure i’ll save a couple hours from the tips in the book and it will have paid for itself.

          Thanks SM!

  6. 26

    Celwin Frenzen

    July 27, 2010 5:01 am

    Definately considering ordering this one, just need to get a good e-reader first!

  7. 27

    Are you planning on releasing a epub-version of the book as well? PDF is normally fine, but reading them in iBooks on my iPhone is a bit of a pain.

    • 28

      Then the ebook would be even more expensive… Not a good idea. Why don’t you ask Steve if he could make reading PDF in iBooks less painful… :) I would like that :)

      • 29

        Johan de Jong

        July 27, 2010 6:00 am

        That statement doesn’t make sense, since epub is basically a ZIP file with XHTML + CSS + XML packed together. (source:
        So no extra work is needed, since you can simply export your Word document to HTML :p

        The only “extra” cost will be the DRM, which by the way isn’t available in PDF.

    • 30

      The ebook is now available in PDF, ePUB and Mobipocket format.

  8. 31

    Awesome book, will there be a printed version of the book?
    Some of us prefer reading an actual book.

  9. 32

    Caesar Aldhela

    July 27, 2010 5:05 am

    I wish you guys will issue new printed books again, however goodluck for the e-book :)

  10. 33

    Guys you should definitely start selling those books in printer version! Otherwise keep on good work ;)

  11. 34

    Ollie Queen

    July 27, 2010 5:06 am

    I feel the price is fair, for the information involved would be very relevant and perhaps be able to make someone’s career if they are just starting out. I’ll pick it up this afternoon when I get back from work, I need a refresher in photoshop anyway and it’s a heck of alot cheaper than a lynda subscription.

  12. 35

    I have bought 2 ebooks and the smashing book now and every one has been an awesome read. But this is becomming a very expensive hobby. The price for this ebook Vitally is so expensive! Surely it’s better to sell 10,000 copies at $5 than it is to sell 1000 copies at $19?

    • 36

      thomas giannattasio

      July 27, 2010 5:14 am

      $19 may seem like a lot at first, but I assure you the information within is well worth it. Try finding a Photoshop book from your local book dealer for that price. They’re typically around $50 a pop! I hope you’ll reconsider :)

      • 37

        I’m not saying the content isn’t worth every penny asked for it. But 1st off, the price is more expensive from a book store cause it is something tangible, most of that price includes the printing and manufacturing costs. Also – though I completely agree the content is of a different callibre, but all books in the iBook store are much much cheaper than this ebook is. As soon as I buy a eBook online, I sync it to my iPad, it’s the main reason I buy the eBook, but $19, though I’m sure great content, is so so high! Big name books, magazines, limited edition 1 off’s (8 faces) come up cheaper than this does. And again, though the content is completely different, it is still just as valuable.

  13. 39

    Have to agree with above. Looks like a great book but a little too expensive for me.

  14. 40

    Helio S. Junior

    July 27, 2010 5:24 am

    Looks like a must have book. Another one to my personal library.


  15. 41

    I can’t imagine designing web in Photoshop. Interesting, but fireworks is so much easier!

    • 42

      I couldn’t imagine writing a comment about a Photoshop article if I am preferring to use Fireworks. That would be so random. I would probably write comments on Fireworks related articles. That would be so much easier (for everyone).

      And what I wanted to ask: who cares?

      • 43

        Why can’t a Fireworks user comment on this? I use FW exclusively for my web design work, and was just curious to see what was in the book. After seeing a summary of what’s in it, I have no reason to buy it. Plus it’s way too expensive.

        And what I want to ask: Have you actually ever even TRIED Fireworks!?

  16. 44


    July 27, 2010 5:37 am

    Looking forward for the print version.

  17. 45

    Husien Adel

    July 27, 2010 5:37 am

    Nice book as i read s a short description about it, may be buy it and give it a feedback ;)
    thanks SM team you are great

  18. 46

    Martin Chaov

    July 27, 2010 5:40 am

    I agree there is a lot of effort and time needed to create an eBook. But guys … seriously … all that information is available for free, not to mention that, Adobe manuals are completely free, and Photoshop has one of the best written manuals I have ever seen.

    I like your work on general. Nice tryouts you are making with this eBooks, just price them according the containing information and its quality, not at what you would like to be paid for a job, that is already done by the community.

    Good luck selling it to the newbies thou.

  19. 48

    This is great news.
    However, is there any way to get it as a printed version?
    How much more would it cost?

  20. 49

    Melle Wynia

    July 27, 2010 5:46 am

    I’m normally not the person who buys (e)books quickly, but this looks very interesting (especially after reading the excerpt). Looking forward to buying it!

    20 Dollar (around 16 Euros for me) isn’t much comparing the price with the prices at (even though their books are around 500 pages thick each)!

    ~ M

    • 50

      Sitepoint books are good but also ridiculously expensive. I would never buy one at their prices… I can’t be the only one, either. I think if smashing dropped their prices, even to say $9.99, they would blow Sitepoint out of the water with any competing books.


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