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Book Review: Photoshop Elements 12

Posted by on March 13, 2014

Photoshop Elements 12: The Missing ManualPhotoshop Elements 12: The Missing Manual

by Barbara Brundage

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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I love Photoshop CS, but my school will no longer support the cost of a license. At first, I refused to teach image editing, feeling like any program I used would be inferior to what I should be teaching. I continued with the decade-old CS (not the up-to-date CS 5). No problem with that. Students loved it, found it easy, extended learning to home–and that’s when the problem arose. They–of course–had to buy the upgrade and wondered why I was using such an old program.

This year, I deicded to investimgate Adobe’s Elements, see if I could make the switch. For that adventure, I purchased Barbara Brundage’s Photoshop Elements 12 (O’Reilly 2013) is an all-around manual for learning and using Photoshop Elements 12. It’s part of the popular ‘missing manual’ series (where you find the software manuals no longer included when you purchase a program), so provides down-to-earth instruction, how-tos, and easy-to-understand skills that make Elements as easy to learn as possible.

I was attracted to this book because I am making the switch in my classrooms from Photoshop to Elements. I love Photoshop–don’t get me wrong–but its expensive, kind of hard to learn in one grading period, and often daunting in the execution of skills. I hoped Elements would be none of these, but instead would offer easy-to-learn image editing that looks spectacular.

I was not disappointed. Included in this book are:

  • understanding the porgram
  • how to import/manage/save, manipulate photos
  • quick photo repairs
  • artistic elements that appeal to all amateur photographers
  • lots of examples
  • lots of hints
  • extras for ‘power users’

Most of what the average person wants out of photo editing software is included with a shorter learning curve and a smaller budget. Highly recommended.

Full disclosure: Personally, I’m sticking with Photoshop. I love the ‘what’s over the horizon’ approach to software, the idea that there’s always something more to challenge my creativity. I think that’s a unique mind-set that I am not going to expect of my students.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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3 Responses to Book Review: Photoshop Elements 12

  1. C.K. MacLeod

    Dwindling school budgets can certainly create challenges! Jacqui, in your opinion, is GIMP a suitable replacement for Photoshop—for power users? And for students and lite users, what are your thoughts about Both of these programs are free.

    • Jacqui

      Absolutely GIMP is a good replacement. By the time students are ready for the sophistication of Photoshop (and GIMP), they understand how software works. It’s about tools, toolbars, clicks and shortkeys. Sure GIMP is different, but not harder.–I’m not familiar with. I googled it but got some commercial site.

      Here’s a list of other online drawing tools. You might like Sumopaint.

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