Photoshop Essentials: Q&A with Lesa Snider

What's new with Photoshop Creative Cloud? A lot. And if you want – or need – to get up to speed but don't know where to start, check out Photoshop CC: The Missing Manual (2nd edition), by author and speaker Lesa Snider.

This comprehensive yet conversational book covers absolutely everything you need to know in order to master Photoshop, and includes practical examples and downloadable exercise files so you put your newfound knowledge to use. Interested in learning more before you buy the book? Read our Q&A with Snider to get the scoop on the latest Photoshop essentials. Then use our exclusive discount code (AUTHD) to save 50 percent on the ebook or 40 percent on the print version.

What inspired you to come out with a second edition of Photoshop CC? What's new and different from the first edition?

Adobe introduced a slew of new features in Photoshop CC 2014, so I added approximately 200 pages so folks can get up to speed fast. Some new features are incredibly useful, such as the Focus Area command that automatically selects in-focus areas of an image, linked smart objects, font search and preview, Adobe Typekit integration, smarter smart guides, and two new Blur Gallery filters. Others are welcome time-savers, such as the ability to unlock a background layer with a single click.

Each time I update my books, I treat myself to a full reading of the entire manuscript, which prompts me to update techniques with faster and more efficient editing methods, and add new techniques that are timely and practical.

Who should get this book? Beginners? Those with some Photoshop experience? What makes it different from other Photoshop tutorials?

This book is one of a kind. It's conversational and contains zero technical jargon. In fact, reading it is like having me sit beside you while you're working, complete with my Texas accent. I also handcrafted each and every screenshot myself, so the book is filled with engaging, and whenever possible, humorous imagery. Just wait 'til you see the costumed chihuahuas! I gotta keep folks engaged somehow.

This book is perfectly suitable for both beginners and seasoned Photoshop jockeys. It's filled with super useful tips and tricks that make you faster and more efficient in the program, along with loads of ideas for extra creativity. For every technique covered, I give a bolded summary at the beginning of each step with a more detailed explanation beneath. This allows pros to skim the steps quickly while giving beginners plenty of verbiage to help them understand the "why" behind the "how," which aids in memory retention.

What new features in Photoshop CC are you most excited about? Which features are the trickiest to learn?

I'm a designer at heart, so I get excited about productivity enhancements such as font search and font preview, as well as the integration with Adobe Typekit. The "smarter" smart guides that show the distance between items on different layers and the distance to the edges of your document are incredibly helpful, too.

In my opinion, the trickiest new feature is the Path Blur filter. However, once you master it, and this book tells you how, it's great for introducing precise motion to images that don't have any. And because this filter works with smart filters, you get masking that enables you to apply motion to a certain area of a photo instead of the whole thing.

What's one Photoshop trick or shortcut that designers might not be aware of? Or one that you really love?

I'm a layer mask junkie so I use the keyboard shortcut of Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to invert masks from white to black (or vice versa) all the time. And don't forget that you can double-click a mask to open the Masks panel, which lets you feather the mask on the fly. Another goodie is to keep a floating panel from re-docking by Command-dragging it (PC: Ctrl-dragging).

Finally, do you offer any additional Photoshop CC resources for those who want to learn more?

To learn more about Photoshop CC 2014, check out my in-depth review on, which includes all the little changes that you won't read about elsewhere.

I've recorded many video courses on; each one comes with all the layered documents used in the videos so you can follow along. Folks can also visit my tutorial-riddled site at; it lists my speaking gigs and you can sign up for my newsletter where I often announce upcoming appearances. I also answer a lot of questions on my Facebook fan page as well as on Twitter.

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