When I first discovered Photoshop, it was 1993. I started a new job as a designer at a clothing company. It was a really horrible job, but at least they bought me a new scanner. In those days a lot of scanners came bundled with Photoshop. The first thing I did when I opened the scanner box was to take the Photoshop 2.5 discs and put them in my jacket pocket. When I got home that night, I installed Photoshop on my Mac IIci at home, and my life began to change. I know it sounds ridiculous, but in hindsight, that was a pivotal moment for me.
I had been working in Adobe Illustrator for a few years by then, but Photoshop seemed like a bottomless pit of creative possibilities. There was so much I could do that at times I didn't even know where to start. I began spending hours and hours every night just experimenting. As a result of this endless experimentation, I gained enough knowledge and experience to successfully land myself a position as a professional retoucher at a photography studio. This meant that I could spend all day, every day, working in Photoshop.
The problem with hiring artists to do retouching work is that although they may be good at it, they get bored. I was no exception. Yes, I was getting good at making cheap jewelry look expensive, and making static cars look like they were in motion, but the novelty of those achievements wore off quickly. Frustrated and bored with my work, yet still in love with Photoshop, I began to deviate from working with photography in the classic sense. On my own time, I started to experiment with different methods to create artwork within Photoshop. I began entering contests and then winning awards. The next thing I knew, I had art directors calling with commissions and just like that I became a digital illustrator.
Illustrating digitally allowed me to work all day, every day within Photoshop. But this time, I wasn't limited to retouching photographs anymore.
Another pivotal point came when my work was noticed by the world's best-selling creative magazine: Computer Arts. I was featured in Computer Arts and developed a working relationship with them that continues to this day: They started asking me to not only illustrate, but to write for them as well. Working with Computer Arts really lit a fire under me creatively. The commissions from them constantly demanded new things and challenged me both creatively and technically. I cannot stress the importance of my work with them enough, as my contributions to Computer Arts eventually provided the starting point for much of the content you'll find within this book.
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