Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How I learned Photoshop

I was so happy and content in my world of 2D black and white.  It was enough to have to learn line weights and perspective.  I was quite satisfied with my work.  I think at some point, for most of us, something tends to come along and shake things up in a big way.  For some it may be that person you know that did something so outrageously cool or that book that came out and displayed some amazing art.  For me, it was seeing comic books like Battle Chasers, Wild Cats and Danger Girl.  Whatever it is, these moments require change and growth.  In this article, I dive into my thinking and methods which continue to inspire and motivate me in my ongoing journey to learn digital painting with Photoshop.
I’m dating myself here but I can remember this time as if it were yesterday.  My grandmother bought me a nice new 386 computer that ran Window 3.1.  I was so excited at the possibilities.  One of the first things I bought was a grayscale palm-held scanner.  What a relic.  You basically had to place it over the picture and drag it down the page.  If you didn’t do it right, the image would be scrunched on one side because you didn’t drag it straight.  But once you got through that headache and the image was in the computer, it was time to color.  Back then, I remember putting the picture in Microsoft Paint (I know now that this was horrible but it was all I had).  I spent hours coloring pixels.  I had a lot of fun but those images were simply atrocious.  There is no other way to put it.  So this may have scared me away from coloring my images in the beginning.

So, what was my moment and how has color changed me?  Well a few years ago, I and a friend of mine wanted to publish our own comic book.  This project amounted to a lot of work and no published product.  However, I did learn so much from the process.  My friend was the writer and was going to do all the art work so I needed to learn how to color.  I had no idea at the time how much I had to learn.  There were so many fine comic book colorists doing some fine work that I looked to as examples.  I guess I always took their work for granted.
It helps to learn Photoshop when working on a project or when you need a specific solution.  The early days of my Photoshop experiences were times when I wanted to color a comic book page or give a cool image to a friend.  Usually in these events, you don’t really have a full grasp of what the program can do but you know what you’d like to do with it and you learn if it is actually possible to do it or if you need to do something else.  In this process, we tend to gain some unexpected nuggets that we can save and use later.  Today, with sites like YouTube and professional tutorials, we are able to learn much faster and more conveniently get the information we need.  I think one of the biggest keys to learning Photoshop is deciding to learn it no matter what.  No matter how overwhelming the toolset is.

With any new application that I’m interested in learning, I like to get the big picture as to what it can do and then break it down into pieces.  If I was a newbie to Photoshop today and I wanted to learn it, I would go online or look at some of the latest digital art books by the pros.  Seeing what they can do is very motivating and gives you an idea of what can be done.  Next, I’d look at all the menus to get an idea of my options.  Menus are usually broken down into sections.

Finally, we can all learn from someone else.  Especially a pro or those who posses skills that are much more advanced than our own.  I can always come away with something that I didn’t know.  Access to this information today is very available.

Frank Freeman is a freelance artist, trainer and CEO of Artistic Gurus, Inc. a training company that focuses on how-to videos in the 2D, 3D, Traditional Arts, Comics, Anime and Manga fields. http://www.artisticgurus.com/ or http://www.rentartvideos.com/

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