Book review: Digital Essentials by Gloria Hansen

Gloria Hansen is well known to people in several different worlds: she’s a multi-award-winning quilter, a pioneer and expert in the field of inkjet fabric printing, and an internet guru who co-owns a Web design company, GloDerWorks.  Hansen drew on her vast knowledge in each of these areas for her recent book, “Digital Essentials.”  Although sub-titled “The quilt-maker’s must have guide to images, files, and more!” this book is not just for quilters – it’s a must have guide for anyone who is navigating the complicated world of digital imagery.

Aware that her audience ranges from newbies to the experienced, Hansen provides a comprehensive overview of the basics, and progresses to providing tips and clear explanations for problems that bedevil even the digital-savvy among us.  She explains in understandable terms complex subjects such as file resolution, resizing / resampling, and color management, and includes plenty of clearly labeled screen shots and graphic examples to supplement the text.

Even the chapters specifically directed to quilters contain invaluable information for non-quilters.  For example, “Removing a quilt from its background,” covers the use of selection tools and “Preparing images for digital show entry” explains how to submit digital images to any kind of juried art show.

When Hansen discusses using graphics software, she explains how to do each process in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro, recognizing the reality that not everyone uses the heavyweight full Photoshop.  Similarly, she’ll let you know if there’s a different key to use if you have a Mac or Windows PC.  She also includes helpful keyboard shortcuts and alternate ways to accomplish many tasks.  Posing and answering the questions that you’re likely to be asking yourself as you read, Hansen sprinkles helpful “Questions for the Expert” and “Quick Q and A” boxes throughout the book.

Addressing a problem that anyone who wants to post their artwork on the internet has grappled with, Hansen’s chapter “Image protection – can it be done?” begins by saying that you can’t completely protect your work if someone really wants to download it, but then suggests several things to try, ranging from making them harder to find or to steal, to adding copyright notices and watermarks.  Hansen has made this chapter of her book available as a free pdf download.

I have long admired Hansen for her extensive knowledge, and her gracious generosity in giving advice online.  She’s an invaluable member of many internet mailing lists, including my favorite, the yahoo group dedicated to printing on fabric which you can find at http://tinyurl.com/myqudn

Hansen’s website, http://www.gloriahansen.com/ has numerous articles on a range of subjects, and you can see photos of her stunning quilts.  “Digital Essentials” is packed with so much information that another writer might have spread it out over several different books.  If you want to learn how to make the most out of your digital images, get this book.   http://www.gloriahansen.com/DigitalEssBook.php

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