The Design Center _/_ Photoshop

PST&T Chats with
Gary Bouton
Author of the
"Inside Photoshop"
book series
Gary, thanks for taking your time to visit with us today! Your "Inside Photoshop" series has sure been a hit, and I think our readers would really like to get acquainted with you. Can you share a bit about the Boutons' part of the world?

Gary: - Barbara and I are very social when it comes to online "neighborhoods", but because we recently bought a house in a new neighborhood, it's taking us a while to become friends with our new, *physical* neighbors. We're fond of a lot of "private" pastimes, actually. We like to take long walks at dusk, during the colder seasons we read a lot in front of our fireplace, Barbara has her garden to tend to, and I putter around the house. It must seem like a boring life, for people who are "40 something"! I think it might be more interesting to tell you how we got into the authoring biz...

Let me reach into my bag of funny anecdotes here<g>. After 20 years of working as an Art Director in NYC ad agencies, I decided in 1991 to move back to my home town, get a breath of fresh air, and set up shop for myself. Word had it that personal computers could do the work of 10 people, so I felt that the PC applied to my trade would make up for my lack of personnel resources. They say that you typically meet and marry someone who lives within 10 miles of you, and this is what happened with Barbara and me. She was on the Board of Directors of a large user group here, I needed to gain some experience with a computer, Barbara and I both saw some serious personal and professional opportunities almost immediately, and within 2 years, we became partners in authoring as husband and wife. We tell people that we met through "computer dating." Wait; this is not the funny part yet...I entered the CorelDRAW World Design Contest in 1991, and became a finalist. My work was published in a coffee table book, and this is where Cheri Robinson, the Acquisitions Editor for New Riders saw my work. On the same day that she called and asked me whether I knew how to write, we received an issue of WordPerfect magazine that advised potential writers to seek an agent, because *no one* gets an unsolicited offer over the telephone!

PST&T: (LOL) So much for Agents, eh? Specially when you've got some killer art going for you! I guess that comes from your 20 years of "traditional" art, right?. Do you ever get back to the drafting table any more?

Gary: - Only on those seldom occasions where I need to draw a cartoon. I'm big on cartooning, and have not found a digital replacement for a good Flair pen and some ledger bond paper. I wind up scanning the cartoons these days, using Adobe Streamline to convert the scan to vector work, and then color in the cartoons using Illustrator, CorelDRAW, and/or (my favorite) CorelXARA. I have to admit, however, that I replaced a hefty, wooden drafting table I acquired when I was about 17 years old last year, for a more stylish, smaller formica and steel one. And as I looked in my "drafting room" the other day, I realized that I use the table more for coffee mugs, books, and an occasional sandwich plate than I do for designing.

PST&T: So you don't miss it?

Gary: - I don't really miss traditional, physical designing that much -- No. My strong suit was and always has been pen and ink--I'm plain lousy with a brush and canvas or a lump of clay that has a statue buried somewhere inside of it. It took me several months of weaning myself from drafting table to computer; I had a swivel chair positioned so that if I didn't get quick results with the PC, I could always turn around and knock something off on the drafting table. I'd say it took about a full year until I realized the potential of the PC and graphics applications, and the freshness of the medium kept me going digital. It's also forced me to think a little differently. I'm a very good impressionist, and used to copy the styles of other artists a lot; with the PC, it *forces* me to be more original in my execution of a concept. I don't know why...perhaps it's because you can't put tracing paper over a monitor.

PST&T: Doesn't work quite as well as layers or filters do, eh? I note a lot of work with textures (see samples), and your 3D work is just stunning... Do you use a commercial texture "filter" to build your creations, or do you make them directly from Photoshop?

Gary: - I use about five different programs for designing texture maps. Alien Skin had a product for the Mac that was distributed by Virtus Corp. called TextureShop and I still use that for really weird, organic texture and bump maps. I also create my own nozzles for Painter and use Painter's Pattern>Define Pattern command to create seamless, tiling textures. XAOS|tools' Terrazzo filter is also a good one to create a basic tiling pattern, and then embellish it using different Photoshop and 3rd party plug-ins. However, none of the textures we offer on book CDs or in the "Tilers" collection are "pre-sets". You won't find them anywhere else because Barbara and I always tweak the results of a filter that generates a texture.

PST&T: I really enjoyed the chapter on "Creatively Working With Filters", particularly "Filters that Compliment Geometry". We get a lot of letters from readers who try various techniques but have less than ecstatic results. On page 519 you warn readers to "pick the right image for a filter." Could you share some insights into that axiom with our readers?

Gary: - I discourage designers from using a filter for the sake of creating *content* in an image. This never happens; you wind up with "digi-doodles" instead of Art. A filter cannot replace creativity, but at their best, they can shave hours of time off your work if you know which one to select. A good example of this is what I frequently do to pictures of people who are not young. Age lines and other visually unflattering aspects of a picture of, say, a person in their 60s or 70s can be transformed by adding a little Dry Brush filtering. What you do is create a copy of the original on a layer, duplicate the layer, and then apply Photoshop's Artistic filter, Dry Brush, to the layer. Then you drag the opacity slider for the layer down to about 30% and then merge the layers. You'd be surprised at how effective this is for creating a flattering image. It still looks like a photograph, but a lot of the wrinkles and other signs of a person's age disappear.

Aside from creating textures...which is documented in our can also use some of the texturing filters on still life compositions to make a boring scene look as though it was hand-woven, or painted on a rough canvas. I like to use the Texturizer plug-in, using my own bump maps (usually of things such as fabric or a scan of crumpled paper) to add dimension to still lifes of table top compositions, flowers, and other scenes. In this sense, the filter makes a worthy contribution to re-interpreting the original scene, and in the process, makes it more visually interesting.

PST&T: Gary, speaking of Plug-ins -- reading the book gave me lots of ideas, but you handled all the various products in a diplomatic fashion. Surely you have favorites that you enjoy more than any others?

Gary: - My all-time favorite is the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop. You can put a texture in an alpha channel, and allow the filter to add anything from an embossed effect to an impression of a "knit look" depending on what you put in the alpha channel. I must qualify this reply here; I'd say that the Lighting Effects filter is my favorite simply because I use it the most. There are mind-blowing filters such as Andromeda's 3-D filter and XAOS|tools' Paint Alchemy that I like playing with, too. But back to your previous question: *any* filter is only as good as the purpose you intend to use it for. Filters do not replace creativity or a concept--let's write this on the chalkboard 100 times<g>!

PST&T: There seems to be a lot of malcontent churning over version 5 -- but, what do you feel is the single most important improvement... if there is one?

Gary: - The biggest lament I hear of is the implementation of color management that is ill-documented, totally incompatible with previous versions of Photoshop, and simply not easy to use. On a more positive note, I find that multiple Undos through the History palette to be possibly the single greatest improvement over previous versions. Adobe could have made the Undo function a little less "elegant" (by making it a command instead of another palette), but all I'm hearing from readers is that the History palette can be a real time-saver and career-saver.

PST&T: Okay, so next you knew I'd have to ask: what change could you have done without?

Gary: - ICC color profiles. The International Color Consortium has a good idea can embed specific device display and rendering information within a file. In theory, you can "tag" a TIFF image, for example, with display information intended for use at a service bureau, or specify the ink distributions of a specific imagesetting device to render in CMYK mode. But this stuff is way above the heads of even a lot of seasoned professional commercial places, it's going to take years for the adoption of ICC profiles to filter through the DTP community, and I think "bleeding-edge" technology doesn't have a place in a product that is trying to become more mainstream...and ubiquitous<g>.

PST&T: So, is there any noise from the ivory tower about a version 6? Following their revenue-feeding schedule they should be due sometime around February or March next year.

Gary: - I cannot comment on that, and you can read into this statement fairly easily.

PST&T: So you could be back in the writing biz real soon, eh? How long did it take to bring "Inside 5" 700+ pages to market?

Gary: - It took 7 weeks to write, about a week to go back and forth with the production, copy, and technical editors, and another 4 weeks to work with the Production department at Macmillan to get the manuscript pages into Quark, proof the color plates in the book, compile and test the CD, do the cover illustration, and generally bring all the pieces together. After that, it usually takes about four weeks to do a press run for the book, and add a week to get the books to the distribution warehouse for shipping.

PST&T: How does Barbara fit into to all that?

Gary: - She's my partner. We do not have hard and fixed roles in creating the "Inside Photoshop" books. She proofs my manuscripts and I proof hers; I help with the screen figures for her chapters (which are usually the "technical" ones -- her forte), she helps me clarify what I've written...and then there's Gail and Gary K. Gail Burlakoff has been either my production editor or my copy editor for all of the "Inside Photoshop" books, and I would not be without her. She makes sense of my nonsense, pure and simple. Gary Kubicek has been tech editing the books since version 3 came out, and he is a super-stickler for details...which is what a good TechEdit should be all about. He actually performs all the tutorials in the book, points out where I've missed a step or two, and Gary, over the years, has graduated to co-author. We both felt that adding a professional photographer's perspective to the book is a good idea (as I am a mediocre photographer, but an adept designer).

Now, this is all freelancer stuff, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the staff at Macmillan who help. Through the years, I've had the honor of working with some real pros. Jennifer Eberhardt has been a Production Editor on several books, Suzanne Snyder has also helped us "outsiders" tremendously, and Cheri Robinson and Karen Whitehouse, both Acquisition Editors (past and present) have been most accommodating in letting us have our way with the book's tone and content. Finally (and this is off the top of my head, so I'm sure there's others<g>) Beth Millett has been super to work with as an Executive Editor at Macmillan, and Steve Flatt has produced some of the best CDs you'd ever find bound in a book.

PST&T: Oh yes... the the CD is fantastic! The "PS 5 Glossary" is nearly worth the price of the book alone! But when people get the book and start digging into that CD -- like me -- they'll probably have trouble deciding which to do first.
Point us to the first thing on the CD you'd like folks to jump into.

Gary: - Naturally, we want the reader to perform the tutorials, so the "Examples" folder is the logical place to start. Then, I'd move to the shareware/demoware we've included...we're quite proud of assembling a fresh collection. Last, but not least, Barbara and I have created Charityware goods...textures, clip art, fonts, and other Photoshop-compatible goods. It's all original, one-of-a-kind stuff, and all we ask is that if you use anything in the "Boutons" folder, that you make a donation to one of the charities we've designated in the Read Me (Acrobat PDF) file.

PST&T: Excellent concept. Okay, Gary -- here's a loaded one: If you wanted to buy a Photoshop book, and could not buy your own, which one would it be?

Gary: - It would have to be the upcoming "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Photoshop", by my friend Robert Stanley. Robert really busted to make the book a rich, yet accessible tome. He covers things we cover in IP5, but does it in a non-condescending, succinct fashion. The title of the book is actually a misnomer; by the end of the book, you're the furthest thing from an "idiot". I really dislike the "moron/idiot/dummy" trend in book titles because they show little respect for the art of teaching, and quite often, you'll find in the Deke's and Robert's...that although the content is a little simplified for the novice...the appeal of such books is indeed geared toward folks with an I.Q. in the three-digit area. Robert's book stands out to me because he makes the effort to make the book a truly bi-platform text. I wish it had been called, "Photoshop for Folks who Don't have the Time to Learn every stinking thing The Boutons put in their Books"...but I guess that's a tad long for a commercial title<g>.

PST&T: Well, speaking of a 'tad long' -- I know you're busy, but one last question...
Can we persuade you to visit our readers in the pages of DT&G again in the future?

Gary: - I'd love to. In fact, perhaps it's time that you told your readers that we are working out the details of the upcoming online training project?

PST&T: Well, now you've done it! I wasn't going to mention it just right now, but since you did -- yes, folks, it's true. If all goes according to plan, and the creek don't rise, you'll be able to take some of our Photoshop Training Classes right here in the facility which is under construction as we speak! And Gary -- you can bet I' be the FIRST student to get signed up!

Thank you so much for visiting today! And best wishes to you and Barbara in all your future ventures.

Folks, we've been chatting with Gary Bouton, co-author of "Inside Adobe Photoshop 5" (About 4 pounds!) Published by New Riders Publishing; ISBN #1562058843. $44.99 U.S. But before you rush out to Borders, or, please point your browser to where you not only get the discount, you help support the Design Center at the same time.
. . . After that, visit The Boutons at for free tutorials, updates to books in publication, download free fonts and textures, and wonderful stroll through their gallery of art. Don't forget to check out "Tilers", more than 50 seamless tiles per volume, created by Gary and Barbara for only $19.95 at <>.

The Design Center _/_ Photoshop

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