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T354 - Photoshop Tutorials

Thanks to Charles Pearce for contributing this!

My Starter Guide To Photoshop

Great General Sites That Have Tutorials:
Adobe Design Center: Video Workshops: This site is awesome. Put out by Adobe a TON of video tutorials on features, tricks, overviews, and even specific tutorials regarding all the CS programs. Most of the tutorials are still designed for CS3 but they are starting to add more for CS4. Many of these video tutorials are made by the same people that do Lynda.com or are videos directly from Lynda.com

Photoshop 911: Another site that stores and holds a lot of tutorials, their site navigation is pretty bad, but their forums are great and often times Google searches on Photoshop tutorials will pull up stuff from Photoshop 911.

PSD TUTS: One of my favorite sites to tool around on looking for fun tutorials. The community here is really pushing to do exciting things. These aren’t generic overview tutorials, this is stuff like…making skin look like cracked earth, or neon lighting effects for your photographs. Many of the processes will look intimidating but their step by step instructions are fantastic. This is a great place to find tutorials that will push your skill boundaries and show you new ways to use the software.

Specific Tutorials That Demonstrate Great Skills:

Turn Your Photo Into A Movie Frame: Not only is this a fun tutorial to really add some drama to your photographs, but it provides a fantastic introduction to color modification tools and how to use selective color effects to really make your imagery pop. I’ve found that being able to use the tools demonstrated here have been fantastic in all the other work that I’ve done.

Text Effects: This is still kind of a general list, but it’s from PSD TUTS and all about different visual effects that you can add. Not only is it great for showing what can be done with text, but like I mentioned before, PSD TUTS is a fantastic site for how they go through their tutorials. For a graphics class I figured this would be really helpful as well.

How To Use Photoshop’s Pen Tool: The pen tool is the kind of tool that many people would ignore while learning the software without some coaxing, but the truth is that it’s one of the most versatile and valuable tools in the program. Jumping in and learning what it can do and how to manipulate Bezier Curves can make a huge difference in your work. This tutorial is written using a much older version of Photoshop but the fundamentals are sound.

Creating a Collage Of Photos From One Picture: It’s kind of a hard effect to describe in words. It’s making a pile of Polaroid images look like they fit together to create a single image…just…check it out, the picture will immediately explain it. The process is actually deceptively easy, but I mention it because it provides a solid practice of using the layer mask tool. A very versatile and useful layer tweak. This is one application of the layer mask, but it can be used for a whole lot.

Making Of An Apocalyptic Christmas Card: This is a fantastic tutorial. It’s not so much about how to do what the gentleman did, it’s kind of hard to follow if you were to try and re-create the work, but it’s a great look at what Photoshop can do, how some people think about their work, and a really eye opening insight into how to plan a project as well. A must read if you’re hitting a brick wall about how the software is useful.

Making of the Obama Print “Progress”: Scott Hansen is a graphic designer / digital artist that was commissioned by the Obama Campaign to create a poster for their Artists For Obama section of their online store. Mr. Hansen then made a detailed blog post about how he created his poster. Great insight to how an artist manages their layers, thinks through a project, and executed a high quality print that promptly sold out on then Senator Obama’s website.

Make Your Image Look Like “Sin City”: While this is a fairly simple tutorial that focuses on a really specific look it gives a peak behind the scenes on just how much an image can be manipulated to get the look that you want. None of the starting elements were really in any harmony with each other and this entire work was done by dramatic manipulation of the elements. Many times you can get by with “soft” modifications, or tweaks. This is more like taking a digital hammer to the picture to beat out what you want. I’m also a really big fan of Frank Miller’s style too.

Things That Helped Me in Photoshop:

I wanted to write a few things about how I improved with Photoshop and other digital art software because often times this kind of program can be very intimidating right off the bat.

I had taken a couple classes to get familiar with the basics and then I found a project idea that I could work on for almost a year. I made a lot of election related art from last may till now, I wound up working in Photoshop nearly daily and often times my weekend nights were spent cranking long hours working on pictures. When I started I wasn’t that great, nor did I have a good sense of what the software could or could not do. Face time in front of the program with a dedicated project was my most valuable learning asset. If you can give yourself something similar, a project or series of projects that you can work on for a year, you’ll really see your skills explode. Photoshop is a program of patience, you just can’t learn everything at once, skills have to build off of each other, and you need to give yourself the time to allow that to happen as well.
But there were some things that I did that helped me push my skills quickly. Google is your friend. Whenever I wanted to learn something new it always involved some research because I wouldn’t know exactly what I wanted. Like if I wanted to make a paintbrush that would create an image of Stephen Colbert… I would really know how to put that in Google. I may do a few searches like:

  • “Make stamp of person Photoshop”
  • “how do I turn image into brush Photoshop”
  • “can you create rubber stamps in Photoshop”

That would not necessarily give me exactly what I wanted. Sometimes I’d get lucky and find a tutorial but more often than not I’d find a forum where someone else was asking the exact same, or similar question and a forum responder would better explain what I wanted. So running with the above example some of the searches would come back telling me that what I really wanted to do was to “Define a Brush Preset”. Now I’ve got something, and a quick search on Google would deliver me a tutorial on how to define brushes, and now I can make my “rubber stamp” of Mr. Colbert.

Another thing was that many times I couldn’t find a tutorial that applied exactly to what I wanted to do, but I could often times come close, and then I’d have to adapt what the tutorial said to what I actually wanted to do. I felt that this was when I’d get my best learning experiences because I would go beyond just replicating the steps to actually creating something. It’s something that I would encourage if you have the time on projects, take the framework from the tutorial and try to change it a little to something new. It’s more satisfying that way as well.

I also collect tutorials, if I find a Photoshop tutorial online I make a bookmark and keep it in a folder. I’ve got nearly 200 tutorials now and while I don’t use them all, and many times the links will go dead, I’ve got a personal resource of ideas, inspirations, and a launching point for when I want to learn something new. My primary browser is Firefox and I use a plug in called “Foxmarks” that lets you store bookmarks on a central server and you can just download them to any machine that has Foxmarks plugged into Firefox. This is a plug-in you can use on IU computers. It lets me have my tutorials accessible at all times. Fantastic plug-in for keeping your bookmarks with you.

Experiment a lot in Photoshop as well. Play with the Filter Gallery, and brush settings. Create duplicates of your layers so you can keep a backup before you destroy it, but just see what can be done with different devices and tools, many times you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. Also stack effects. You can add 10-15 effects to a single object if it gives you the look you desire. There are no really firm rules for what you can and cannot do, just the general sense of a good aesthetic. What happens behind the curtains in your layers doesn’t matter as long as the project delivers.

…And along those lines. When you start doing Google searches and posting in forums for help be aware that there are some divisions in the design and art community still in how one uses digital software. There is a design philosophy that says you should be doing all the work yourself, never touch a filter, never let the program render something for you, that any and all creative elements flow from you and nowhere else. They can be very loud and angry about it. I, and others have the opposing views. That tools are tools and you use what you have to get the image that you want. No one rags on a carpenter for using a power saw over a hand saw because it gives an “automatic” or “standard” cut. It’s still your work and vision and whatever gets you there is useful. I just throw it out because personally I was surprised at some of the rancor out there when I would ask questions about these tools, and just want to warn others that you might run into it as well.

In the end, take frequent breaks for your eyes, look at tutorials and creative inspiration sources and make sure you have fun doing all of it. Ugg, a little long winded, but I hope something here is useful.

After Effects Tutorials:



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