This book isn't meant to be a replacement guide to your Photoshop manual. In fact, this book presumes you have a basic working knowledge of the program. It's recommended that you study at least the principle tools and functionality of the software in the Photoshop manual.
What this book does offers you is an advanced look at how to use Photoshop in a very specific way --in the creation of comic imagery.
As the old adage goes, "There's more than one way to skin a cat." This is especially true with software as complex as Photoshop.
Wherever I can, I outline strategies for accomplishing tasks that you, as a comic artist, are likely to encounter. These strategies aren't always written in stone. Your mastery of Photoshop will never be complete without a personal exploration of what the program can do. One, this will lead to new and possibly better techniques. Two, if your method of working is unique to you, your imagery will avoid the typical cookie-cutter look that's so easy to fall into by artists who book-learn their software.
Photoshop is an amazing tool. I don't think there's anything that you can imagine that can't be realized in Photoshop. We're all aware of the astonishing advantages Photoshop offers us. But like any tool in an artist's arsenal, it comes with limitations as well as advantages. One of these limitations is that most people don't stray too far from the presets and natural "look" of the software. As more and more professionals turn to Photoshop to help them realize their work, the audience awareness of the tools we use will also increase. The visual lexicon of "typical" Photoshop techniques will become trite if overused.
In other words, your work is in danger of taking on a terribly generic feel if you don't bring a little of yourself to the table.
I see so much work lacking any individuality, using only the basic Photoshop tools and filters, I even have a name for it. I call it "Close to the Box." This means they're using only the most novice functions of the software, producing entirely cliche work. We see this already with lens-flares or excessive dodging and burning of images. These are normally valid tools, but when they're overused they look cheap. Worse, these techniques are easy to identify and everyone knows they're easy to generate. Push-button art has no value.
With this in mind, I encourage you to think of the techniques I've outlined as good suggestions, not rules. Feel free to experiment and try different approaches. I assure you, they're there. This is the richest Photoshop ground that can be mined --and the time you spend here will be invaluable to your growth.
If I had to give only one piece of advice to young Photoshop artists it would be this: "Listen to your artistic instincts." It's easy to laud Photoshop for what it makes possible and it's easy to get caught up in technique. But in the end, it's the artist who directs the tool to produce the art, not the other way around. Photoshop is just a bunch of code. It's the artist's vision which breathes life into the work and makes it relevant. Adobe's programmers are good, but they'll never make a filter that can replace your instinct.
So have fun experimenting! And if you happen to find something interesting, be sure to pass it along!
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