I need a course in Photoshop 101

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  1. #1
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    I need a course in Photoshop 101

    With the help of both Re!ke and Datameister combined with the vast archives of info on these forums, I think I'm well on my way to figuring this stuff out on my own. However, instead of fading off into the sunset, I thought I should instead share with everyone what I have found.

    So, without further ado...

    The Links!

    Must Read Threads

    Datameister's Article - This gives a nice, general overview of everything you need to know so you know what the hell is going on when Photoshop finishes loading. At least, that's what it was for me.

    Digital Painting in PS - There's a reason why this is the most referenced thread here. Check it out. Learn from it. I know I need to.

    !!Peer Project!! Foundational Activities - Learning, Teaching, and Toast ! - The amount of stuff to be learned from this thread is just mind boggling. It also gives additional links for understanding the more theoretical aspect to painting.

    The Peer Project V2 - A continuation of the Peer Project.

    killing.lesson (photoshop) - Killing.People gives an in-depth look to his painting techniques. Very informative.

    Good General Info

    Handy tips and tricks for PS - All the shortcuts that you need to learn.

    question about overlay layer vs color layer - Sketchling gives a technical description of the Darken/Lighten, Multiply/Screen, Color, Luminosity, and Overlay layers. Now I know what the hell they actually do instead of just selecting them randomly to see if I get a cool effect.

    A Couple Informative Posts by Bumskee

    Some Brush Stuff and a Nice Looking Pepper

    More Brush Stuff

    Advanced Techniques I probably shouldn't even look at

    Quick Texturing Anything - Pretty cool technique for applying a texture to a surface. I think I saw something similar to this at Polykarbon some years ago. Should be used sparingly.

    The Light Side of the Smudge - What do you know? The Smudge Tool isn't a tool of the Devil!

    PAINTING WITH THE FINGERS - Or maybe those who use the Smudge Tool sell themselves to the Devil to make stuff look this good!

    From here on is my original post...
    _______________________

    Okay, most of my Photoshop knowledge is a combination of self-taught knowledge and crappy dodge/burn tutorials from five to six years ago on Adobe Photoshop 5.5 (god that's old, CS3 is technically Photoshop 10 or something, isn't it?).

    Well, I've got Photoshop CS now, but my skills are incomplete and outdated at best. I've included two quick studies I've done to illustrate the level I'm at. Granted, I'm stuck with a mouse, but these are simple enough to work with a mouse on. Also my painting skills can use plenty of work, but I'd like to learn Photoshop better so I can work on those (I can't work with oils at the moment and I have no clue where my friggin' pastels went off to...).

    I've tried messing with brushes, but I'm not quite getting the hang of them yet. And I clearly rely on the smudge tool far too much. Also I've tried googling for "Adobe Photoshop CS Tutorials" and various modifications of that phrase, but there's something like fifty gabjillion tutorials, which is rather overwhelming for me. Furthermore many of these have to do with photomanipulation, which I may learn from but it's not quite what I'm looking for (besides, I know so little I'm usually scratching my head within a couple minutes).

    All I really know at this point is how to use layers (in probably the most offensively rudimentary manner possible) and a few of the brush options (wet edges, opacity, spacing, et cetera). Oh, and the all-mighty lens flare of course!

    Basically, I'm asking for whatever you've got. Pointers, tips, detailed explainations, a link to the uber-FAQ that explains it all (and probably a few flames for not searching hard enough, it's okay, go ahead, I can take it ), links to several FAQs because there isn't an uber-FAQ, et cetera.

    Thanks!

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    Last edited by Anid Maro; January 22nd, 2007 at 03:11 PM.
    -My work can be found at my local directory thread.
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  4. #2
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    Hello,
    i ve been using photoshop for 2 years and i can say that there is no
    "uber-FAQ ", i am totally self taught,
    and i think you should check bumskees thread on Digital painting, it offers loads of really good advice, as i m not the best painter in ps i need it!!!!
    other then that the best thing is to ask i guess!

    Greetz~Re!ke

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  5. #3
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    ^ The thread Re!ke mentioned is very helpful.

    You can also try this article I wrote for the CGWiki; it's more about the technical side of painting in Photoshop.

    As far as brushes go, I currently recommend using one very simple custom brush for most of your work. As you progress, you can expand your brush library. But for right now, try doing most of your work with this brush:

    * "Chalk 17 pixels" as brush tip shape
    * low Spacing (5% or so)
    * Angle Jitter set to "Initial Direction"
    * Flow Jitter and Opacity Jitter set to "Pen Pressure"
    * Smoothing is on, but Wet Edges and so on are off
    * Opacity and Flow are generally kept at close to 100%; change these by pressing harder or softer on your tablet

    Notice that last word in bold...it's basically a necessity for digital painting. Even studies as "simple" as these are enormously easier and more enjoyable with a tablet. Get one if at all possible. Bigger is somewhat better, but it's also more expensive. So if money's an obstacle, get a small tablet (preferably a Wacom Intuos3) and use an academic discount, since you say you're a student.

    Anyway, back to the brush I was talking about. When it's small, it can put down very sharp edges. When it's big, it can put down very soft edges. Its shape is rough, but not too rough. "Initial Direction" makes it possible to create great texture by dabbing in random directions. It's versatile, simple, and fast. What more can you ask for in a brush?

    For blending colors, lay off the Smudge tool for now. Stick with what I call SAPALO--"sample and paint at low opacity." That's what the "Digital Painting in PS" explains. It's a nice way of getting organic blends.

    Layers...mmm, keep it simple for now. Try to work on as few layers as possible, and don't be afraid to merge down or flatten frequently.

    You'll learn a lot from painting from reference. Paint from photos and from real life to increase your understanding of colors, forms, lighting, etc. For example, in the painting of the box, the shading is quite unlike anything you'd normally see in real life. But you'd never know that without spending the time painting real objects. So take some photos, put some still life materials by your monitor, take your laptop out into a field somewhere--whatever it takes.

    The vast majority of what you'll learn will be not so much through tutorials and the like, but through experience. Find a workflow that works for YOU and run with it. It'll change over time, I guarantee. But just keep at it.

    EDIT: I forgot one thing. This may sound staggeringly obvious at first, but...if you see a problem with what you've made, fix it. I know I sometimes tend to see a problem, not know quite how to fix it, and basically leave it alone. But don't do that. If you can at least put your finger on what's wrong, you've already taken a step in the right direction. Then it's just up to you to follow through and fix it. It you've painted an edge that's kind of rough, don't sit there thinking "How do people paint such clean edges?" Clean up the edge instead! If the color looks wrong, don't sit there wishing you could pick the right colors. Look at photos, apply color adjustments to the painting, etc. Figure out what works and remember it. I guess what I'm trying to say is, accept the fact that failures happen, but don't let them pass by without becoming learning experiences. Every time you figure out something you shouldn't do, try to figure out what you should.

    Last edited by Datameister; January 17th, 2007 at 09:26 PM.
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    Thanks Re!ke and Datameister for your replies. I've been looking at all the posts in the Photoshop section starting from the first and working up. Already finding some stuff that will help me along.

    And Datameister, that article you wrote looks like exactly what I need. Along with everything you suggested as well.

    I'm going to try that custom brush (to the extent I can without a tablet) along with the "SAPALO" blending method.

    I know I need a tablet, but at the moment funds are so tight that I simply couldn't afford one. Anything more complex than basic studies and practice to familiarize myself with Photoshop I draw out with pencils and ink first, then I color it with the multiply trick. Hopefully in a few months I can afford a cheap tablet, but 'till then... (although I'll look into the academic discount, maybe that will make a tablet cheap enough even for me)

    Also, yes, I need to use more reference work. Partly the box looks so off because I was just messing around trying to learn Photoshop, but more reference would definately enhance my work. In fact, I need to remember to carry my digital camera with me, I walk to school so there's often moments where I wish I had my camera with.

    At any rate, thank you very much for your help! I think that will give me enough direction to be able to learn the rest from experience.

    Also, when I sort through the old posts in this section, I'll compile my findings in this thread for others to reference.

    Edit: I've been messing around with the chalk brush you've suggested Datameister, I wasn't able to set any pressure options obviously, but by setting the flow really low (20% or less) I get a nice gritty/chalky texture that I can build up on. Much better than what I was doing before, which was to have a 100% flow/opacity with "Wet Edges" checked and then I'd build up by laying down one section, then another, and so on. The main problem with that is I actually had to let go of the button and click again before it would add to itself. But with the flow setting, I can build up on the fly. Plus the chalk is a nice texture.

    Last edited by Anid Maro; January 18th, 2007 at 12:10 AM.
    -My work can be found at my local directory thread.
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    It's no problem,
    in fact i m going to have a look at those links, they sound interesting.
    i see you have the peer project down. check out the peer project v2, its only just started so its easier to get in, i should really post my exercises up there, oooohh well.
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=76955,
    there is some really useful links there!
    Greetz~Re!ke

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  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Re!ke
    i should really post my exercises up there,
    Poooooooooooost! You too Anid.

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  9. #7
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    Yeah, if you want to get better at photoshop just keep yourself inspired and keep drawing in photoshop. As you draw, questions will arise, and through that you will learn more than any FAQ will ever teach you.

    "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
    --- Frank Herbert, Dune - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

    Check out my Sketchbook! Critique and Criticism welcomed.

    or my Deviantart!

    · or check out my: Blog
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  10. #8
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    Great set of resources you've compiled here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister
    EDIT: I forgot one thing. This may sound staggeringly obvious at first, but...if you see a problem with what you've made, fix it. I know I sometimes tend to see a problem, not know quite how to fix it, and basically leave it alone. But don't do that. If you can at least put your finger on what's wrong, you've already taken a step in the right direction. Then it's just up to you to follow through and fix it. It you've painted an edge that's kind of rough, don't sit there thinking "How do people paint such clean edges?" Clean up the edge instead! If the color looks wrong, don't sit there wishing you could pick the right colors. Look at photos, apply color adjustments to the painting, etc. Figure out what works and remember it. I guess what I'm trying to say is, accept the fact that failures happen, but don't let them pass by without becoming learning experiences. Every time you figure out something you shouldn't do, try to figure out what you should.
    This is the best piece of advise for any creative objective; for life drawing, figure invention and digital painting. This thinking is what pushes me forward the most. And it's also a confidence builder because you solved a problem on your own. A great skill to have.

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  11. #9
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    GREAT POST! Thanks this will help me a lot with my digi painting. Most sites have the process but not brush settings or opacity settings mentioned.

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