“Poke Around…See What Happens”

So a Photoshop lesson was definitely needed. When Dr. Petrick told me last week that I needed to crop my header image, I could only shrug and say sadly to myself, “I did.” Having never experimented with Photoshop, I jumped right in last week, thinking that cropping and color editing would be the most basic and most self-explanatory of tasks, but the resulting folder of warped images of unpleasant hues proved that this was not to be the case.

I think my difficulties stemmed from the fact that I had underestimated Photoshop. Casual usage of the term (“that pic is totally Photoshopped” or “just Photoshop it out”) had somehow led me to believe that Photoshop was a simple and easy-to-use photo-editing application. (And, for those more experienced, perhaps it is.) But, after this introductory lesson, I don’t know if I would still use either of these adjectives to describe Photoshop- do I think it is pretty amazing in its potential? Definitely (what can’t you do with Photoshop?) but simple to use? Well, that will take some practice.

And I think that practice will entail a lot of distorted imagery and editing defects. Certainly, the readings this week helped to clarify just what it is that we can do with Photoshop and, certainly, the tutorials will be referenced again once we begin to engage Photoshop with more specific design objectives in mind.  But this week was another lesson in the art of trial and error. Though I was able to follow with relative success the step-by-step instructions in the Nondesigner’s handbook and the tutorials on Lynda.com, I didn’t really grasp what all of the dialog box percentages and sliding scales were actually doing.  So rather than following Justin Seely in applying Photoshop techniques the exact right way, I found it more useful to experiment with the wrong way, or to take the “what happens if I do this?” approach.  What happens if I get a little spot-healing brush happy? Well, a historic photograph loses some of its character. What happens if I extend the background on this theater audience photo? Well, the crowd becomes stretched and distorted. I was grateful for the texts and tutorials this week (for without them, I wouldn’t even know where to begin), but I think Photoshop may be another design skill that is best learned when we “poke around, click and prod, experiment…see what happens” (Williams, x).

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One response to ““Poke Around…See What Happens”

  1. I think the “poke around and see what happens approach” is almost a better one than trying to follow a tutorial. Its easy to passively follow along to lynda video, but like you said its necessary to understand what you are doing and why because eventually you’ll have to use those techniques on your own project. That is definitely the way I learned photoshop and I can honestly say I haven’t even scratched the surface of what the program can do. It’s so detailed and powerful. Check out this guy who makes all of his art from scratch using solely photoshop—its crazy but quite cool. http://www.bertmonroy.com/damen/damen.html

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