If you read my recent review of Total Training’s Digital Video Collection Professional Plus bundle, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of their tutorial DVDs, so it’ll come as no great surprise that I’m giving them full marks for this bundle, which is, without question, a superb resource for anyone wanting to learn the ins and outs of Adobe Creative Suite 2.
Based around three separate DVD sets, ‘Total Training for Adobe Photoshop CS2’, ‘Total Training for Adobe Illustrator CS2’ and ‘Total Training for Adobe InDesign CS2’, it also includes two bonus DVDs ‘Adobe Photoshop Tips and Tricks’ and ‘Digital Photography and Adobe Photoshop’.
It’s not just the high standard of the information, or TT’s production values, that make this bundle so formidable, but the fact that two of the primary DVD sets are hosted by none other than Deke McClelland…who you may remember from such tutorial guides as The Photoshop Bible series…
Inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame in 2002, McClelland is widely considered to be the absolute guru when it comes to teaching Photoshop. He demonstrates why in ‘Total Training for Adobe Photoshop CS2’, which opens with him explaining that Photoshop expects you to be a “photographer, designer, painter, SFX wizard, print technician, multimedia author and webmaster”…which is why he is “Invoking the spirit of the original renaissance man, Leonardo ‘Deke’ (sic) Vinci”…by dressing up in a frilly white shirt, doublet and hose…something that, as the Jew responsible for the 80s revival… courtesy of my club Pretension…I’m hardly in position to criticise…so all I’ll say is that I would have preferred to have seen him with a doublet of hoes, than in a doublet and hose…but what else would you expect from me?
Having introduced Photoshop, Run DMC spends the next 27 mins “putting the mental into fundamental” (as long as he’s not putting the ‘ist’ into fundamental), before stretching the metaphor by comparing Adobe Bridge to Leonardo Da Vinci’s bridge designs. Then he moves onto setting preferences, choosing colour settings, customizing keyboard shortcuts, organising palettes, zooming, scrolling, changing resolution & image size, rotation & cropping, basic colour correction, translucency, the history palette…and that’s just the first of the three DVDs in this set…
By now he’s so into the part that he’s referring to Michelangelo as a ‘hack’ (one for the art historians methinks), as he moves onto DVD 2, in which he covers layers, groups & comps, opacity & blend modes, advanced blending, layer styles, masks & channels, transform & warp, creating & editing type, special type effects, vector-based shapes, actions, printing & output…and there’s still a DVD to go!
At this stage, having spent almost 14 hours building solid foundations, it’s time to move onto the really cool photographic stuff, which is exactly where DVD 3 goes, with almost 8 hours of tutorials on adjusting levels, curves shadows & highlights, adjustment layers, camera raw, high bit depth & exposure, sharpening focus, blurring & averaging, filters & masks, distort & displace and liquefaction. There also two bonus lessons, one on vanishing point, the other on smart objects.
Next up, is the Illustrator DVD set, which also stars Deke…this time as “co-founder and Minister of Acquisitions of the Total Training Museum of Arts and Antiquities”…which looks remarkably like Leonard D’s apartment…but with the addition of some tribal objet…blimey, this guy is almost as multitalented as me…not to mention almost as modest…
If you hadn’t guessed, the Museum of Arts and Antiquities, is another of the big D’s metaphors, based upon the premise that “Ancient art is simple solid shapes, bold colour and text, just the sort of thing Illustrator excels at…” and for the next eighteen hours, the Deke MC excels at illustrating Illustrator, via Atlantis and Socrates…though thankfully not in a toga… with tutorials covering workspace & navigation, drawing simple line art, symmetrical shapes, fills strokes & colour, transforming paths, using the pen tool, selecting points & paths, pathfinder operations, Liquefy & envelope, creating & formatting type, gradients & gradient mesh, blends & masks, brushing with vectors, using transparency, applying live effects, dynamic type treatments and, of course, the new killer features, live trace and live paint.
Completing the primary bundle is ‘Total Training For InDesign CS2, hosted by double Webby award winning print and web designer, Steve Holmes…who you may remember from such Technofile reviews as ‘Digital Video Collection Professional Plus Bundle.’
Eschewing the extended historical metaphors for straight talk, Holmes gets stuck in with a thirty five minute quick start tour of the software, after which he spends the next sixteen hours of this two disk set comprehensively covering everything from design, typography and layout, to production and output, rounding it all off with a bonus advanced lesson on how to design a poster.
Homes also hosts the single disc ‘Adobe Photoshop Tips and tricks’, which contains eight lessons in some of the most sought after Photoshop techniques including perspective, flames, smoke, ice, shadow, lighting, metal and drop shadows.
Completing the collection is ‘ ‘Digital Photography and Adobe Photoshop’, presented by TT co-founder, Brian Maffitt…who you may also remember from such Technofile reviews as ‘Digital Video Collection Professional Plus Bundle.’ Over the space of two hours and twenty five minutes, Maffitt provides the perfect introduction to the world of digital photography. Kicking off with a look at digital cameras and how to take digital snaps, he then explains how to transfer them to your computer, adjust them using Photoshop (CS) and finally print and share your finished work.
Unlike most tuition DVDs you actually have to install these DVD/DVD sets before using them, as they run in their own proprietary QuickTime (which you need on your system) based browser, which allows book marking, detailed chapter info, a useful contents page and other extras. Annoyingly though, if you want to use the full screen mode to watch the Illustrator or InDesign discs, you’ll have to wait for TT to release a software update (a full screen mode update for the Photoshop DVDs is downloadable from the TT web site).
When you install the discs, you are offered the option to automatically copy all of the project files that you will be working with, to a location of your choice, which is less hassle than having to do so manually. You are also offered the opportunity to install all of Deke’s presets (once again to the location of your choice), so that your version of Photoshop/Illustrator look and behave exactly the same way as the one you see him using. But unfortunately the application that runs the DVDs themselves will only install on your C drive. While this may be fine for the average user, it is bound to annoy anyone who has partitioned their hard drive, as it defeats the object of doing so, which is to keep just the bare necessities (i.e. your operating system) on your C drive and everything else on separate partitions, in order to optimise speed.
Also, despite what the DVD’s splash screens suggests, the application that runs them, needs to be installed separately for each DVD/set of DVDs, which is a waste of resources. Hopefully, in the future, Total Training will give us a unified browser, that only needs to be installed once…to a location of our choosing!
But these very minor complaints aside, the bottom line is that Total Training have done it again, producing the best Adobe tuition series know to civilisation…be it ancient Greek, Italian Renaissance, or even contemporary digital, so if you want to learn Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign inside out, buy these DVDs…it’s the civilised thing to do…
More info: http://www.totaltraining.com/
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