Thursday, 18 October 2012

Advancing With Photoshop

I have indicated that one of my main areas of interest relating to my area of practice lies in Photoshop. I have recently been trying to expand my knowledge on the tools available whilst also improving my workflow. 

I believe a key to speeding up my processes in Photoshop is to understand working with layer masks. This is an efficient non-destructive way of working. It also means that colour and detail can be applied more loosely without constantly having to redefine edges.

As I had made made aware of some free beginner tutorials available at '', I decided to take alook. I already had a loose understanding of layer masks, but wanted to consider how to better put them into practice. I found the tutorial helpful as it demonstrated hand keyboard shortcuts, as well as other features available when working with layer masks. I wasn't aware that you could view a layer mask by alt clicking the preview icon in the layers menu, and then edit the mask in the main window. There is also the option to hide the mask (shift click the preview icon) and also the ability to make the layer itself and the mask independent by clicking the chain icon in the layer menu.

I also took a loot at the 'Brush Dynamics and Custom Brush Presets' tutorial. I have talked about working with textures to add an extra sense of realism to my concept art. By creating custom brush presets more dynamic brush strokes and markings can be achieved. I had a quick test producing my own custom brush preset:

I feel this brush creates soft furry edges. I feel it could be applied for something like moss ore frost in a painting. It is interesting how a small abstract image can be assign to a brush preset, creating very delicate and intricate results. I hope to build up some interesting preset brushes which I can then apply to my paintings to add a greater sense of both dynamics and detail to my work.

I also made a visit to the College Library and headed to the magazine section. I picked up a recent issue of "DigitalArts', where I found an interesting masterclass which involved placing a building render into a base photograph image. Although this lies more in the area of photo manipulation, I believe some of the skills could be applied across a broader spectrum. For instance, the lesson looked at placing in textures and reflections, manipulated to fit the perspective of the render using the 'Distort' tool. It also looked at using different layer blend modes, particularly the 'Soft Light' option to show the sunlight.

I feel that I am beginning to broaden my understanding of the tools available within Photoshop, which will hopefully lead to a tighter and faster workflow.

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