A Great Adobe Photoshop Book
Original Flower Photo
Good recipe book for Photoshop effects
Finding your way in Photoshop takes some time. Classes can teach you the basics: how to use the tool bar, make a selection, change the color of a photo, add an adjustment layer and so on. Basically, intro classes teach you how to use the software and where to find the tools. It's like being introduced to a kitchen full of ingredients. You step in the kitchen, eager to cook up something wonderful, but you don't know what to do next!
Photoshop is a complicated program, but fun and amazing once you have some basic recipes. Most people concentrate on just a few techniques over and over, so you don't need to learn everything. A basic "recipe" book will give you ideas, techniques and confidence.
Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks
Lynette Kent's book, Adobe Photoshop CSx: Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks, helped me out a lot. It taught me how to make a gallery print out of any photo, how to make my own digital frames, how to put images inside type and more.
One of my favorie "recipes" is How to Paint a Digital Watercolor and the accompanying photos here show you how it turns out and how it compares to the built-in filters.
How to create a digital watercolor
Photoshop has a filter for creating a watercolor effect from a photo, but it's pretty lame used by itself. Using a "recipe" from Top 100 Tips & Trick helped me give images the effects I wanted.
You would probably want to choose a more simplified photo than I have for the best effect, but it's fun and easy and it works!
Good luck with your own project!