Photoshop for artist’s workflow

If you are a traditional artist not quite sure of what Photoshop is all about, I have a few suggestions for you.
I’ve been painting for most of my 54 years – but have only used Photoshop for the past 15.  Initially I thought of it as a primarily photographic tool, using it only to improve and process photographic images. Early on, that processing began to include collage and other compositing techniques, but mostly it was still a tool for modifying photos.
For the past 6 years, I’ve been exploring its paint and drawing capabilities.  When equipped with drawing tablet, such as the Wacom Intuos 4, or the Genius PenSketch, photoshop becomes the ultimate drawing tool.
Because drawing took a lot of paper, which required a lot of storage space, I started to minimize it in my workflow.  With Photoshop, the materials requirement goes away.  I can draw to my heart’s content, and the only storage needed is a good external hard drive.  With a tablet engaged, Photoshop gives you access to a myriad of wonderful drawing tools – pencils, pens, brushes, chalk, pastels, crayons.  Each of those tools has a wealth of parameters that can be adjusted, and with a little practice you’ll create tools that feel comfortable.  The tablet is as flexible and sensitive as any hand media, and with the ability to work in layers, new opportunities are brought into play to add depth and polish to a drawing.
Because I was shying away from drawing, my skills were becoming stilted and tight.  Now when I an getting ready to work on a painting, I’ll spend an hour sketching and loosening up in PS – and what I do in Photoshop strongly impacts my abilities as a painter.  With Photoshop, I’m taking more time to practice and explore, without the onus of the cost of storage and paper.
Once I’ve loosened up in Photoshop, I’ll begin to work on my canvas, board, or book.
As a prep tool there are also other areas where Photoshop excels.  I can work up a drawing to get an idea of the coloration, mass distribution and so forth, even bringing it up to a near finished image quality before I begin working in physical media.  If I want to, I can print my drawings on paper when I get to an image I want to work, and physically paste that image onto my canvas or other media, or transfer, as I would have anyway, with charcoal or carbon paper or other dry media.  Ultimately what that means is that I can have a perfected drawing to start my underpainting into.  Fantastic!
I’ve also enjoyed making images in Photoshop that would take much longer to accomplish in physical media, or even create things that wouldn’t be possible in physical media.  So in addition to my hand made work, I now have a substantial portfolio of Photoshop images (this year alone, I’ve made in the range of 400 completed works!)
But wait!  I can work it both ways.  I can draw an image on paper by hand, scan it, import it into Photoshop, and carry on the work digitally.  So if I’m in the field, without camera or computer, I can do my drawing on paper, and since I’ve been honing my drawing skills with Photoshop, my drawings are cleaner, surer and more articulate than then had been!  Or I can work both directions – sketch in photoshop, print out on paper, work up in ink, scan and re-import into photoshop.  If I do my printing on art paper, something with tooth and texture, I can get some very interesting hybrid images incorporating the best of both traditional and digital work.
Since I’m working with the Adobe Creative Suite, anything I do in Photoshop can be exported to any of the other applications – so I can work a hand made sketch up into vectors in Illustrator, or add the images to typesetting and graphic paste-up work in InDesign.  In Dreamweaver and Flash I can continue to diversify the images by adding them to html. files and applying animation and interactivity.
And thats just the tip of the iceberg.
If you are a traditional artist, wondering how Photoshop could work for you, these are just a few suggestions.  There is loads of stuff that I haven’t touched upon.
Happy painting!

This entry was posted in Adobe Creative Suite, artist techniques, drawing, Genius Tablets, painting, Photoshop, traditional art, Wacom Tablets, workflow.. Bookmark the permalink.

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