Hi all

I've been lurking here for years under a different username, with the odd post here and there asking for advice. I've decided to finally join and contribute regularly to this fine website.

I'm 24 years old, from London, UK, and I'm academically trained in politics and public policy. However, I love art, and I've tried my best to keep it a crucial part of my life throughout all of this while growing up here (with my academic choices serving as material/inspiration for my art). I find myself now intimately drawn to producing art rather than having to and fros with politicians and the fickle media.

The silence on here was because I had no way to produce any digital art despite having an insatiable urge to draw and paint my ideas this way. I couldn't contribute. I've been drawing since forever, but never had the resources to get the proper software to make the leap. Good news is, I finally got my hands on Photoshop CS4 which just about runs OK on my flagging 6 year old desktop and a Bamboo Pen and Touch tablet which I marvel at every day. These things might be old or low end but I'm grateful for having them.

I've been reading through traditional art books by Loomis, Barber, Bridgman and the such and I feel fairly confident on anatomy and still-life. However, you all will be the judges of that as I start a Sketchbook in due time.

One particular book I have is "Creative Photoshop CS4" by a Derek Lea. Anybody familiar with it? As I have no experience of these kind of art books, I do not know if it is a good one to go through thoroughly as I learn Photoshop and the other art programs in time. I have completed Chapter 1 (single digital painting from a pencil sketch) and will post it in the critique section for some feedback. It was my very first digital painting.

A special mention must go to Jason Manley, who, having read his posts about educating yourself/teaching yourself the skills and it being a viable way into the industry, gave me the confidence to really start sticking to it largely on my own. I do not have any friends who are into sci-fi, fantasy, art, or anything like this, so I hope to make some here for mutual support.

Oh and as a future disclaimer, forgive my crassness sometimes, but I have a very dry British sense of humour

To the critique section I go!

(Also forgive the unnecessarily long post, but its all pent up lurking)