Lesson 1

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On the first day the course aims will be introduced and the course expectations will be made clear.

Set your preferences!

Photoshop becomes more suitable for the purposes of this course is certain preferences are first set:

  1. Turn Snap off (View / Snap). Snap forces elements to 'snap' to each other and to an invisible grid. Good for web designers, very bad for us.
  2. With the Brush Tool active, press 'Enable airbrush-style build-up effects'. See this page for details of the effect that this has.
  3. With the Eyedropper Tool active, set the 'Sample Size' to '5 by 5 Average'. This forces the Eyedropper Tool to select its value from a 5 pixel by 5 pixel average. Importantly, it also has an effect on the equivalent eyedropper function of the 'Paintbrush Tool'.
  4. In the Wacom Driver, set the mapping mode from 'Pen' to 'Mouse'. This will make the Wacom easier to handle. More details in this page.

Key technical skills

Key Technical Skills are covered here.

Related pages: Navigation, The interface, Matching Elements

Exercise: key technical skills

This exercise is intended to test your knowledge of the Key Technical Skills. The task is to make a simple composite using a mix of given source material and material which you have sourced yourself.

Girl.jpg Boy.jpg

  • First, select one of the two files previewed above: girl or boy and download onto your workstation.
  • Look at the file and come up with some sort of visual idea. It need not be very ambitious: simple can be good. But as always, ambition if successful, is rewarded.
  • Open the file and, using a Selection to Mask Workflow, separate the portrait from its background. Remember to check the quality of the mask by looking directly at the mask channel.Remember also that masking is a creative act: it need not be utterly faithful to the original image. I have deliberately given you images that probably require some liberty taken with their original outlines.
  • Make a new photoshop file the dimensions of your desired composite. It should not be too small (I leave this to your common sense, don't let me down).
  • Using your finest Google foo skills, source a new background from the interwebs. Care should be taken that it is of sufficient pixel dimensions.

Your task is now to visually integrate the different elements. Here good aesthetic judgment is needed. You alsi want to check out the Matching Elements page.

  • Important! Remember to regularly Fliperoo.

Assignment: simply composite

This assignment is a simple one: you are to do a simple composite of a figure. For this you will take own photo. This can be yourself should you wish. The key aim of this assignment is twofold:

  • To test how effectively you can apply the Key technical Skills.
  • To demo state how important it is for digital painting that you take your own reference photos.

For this it will help if you start with a clear idea of what you want.

When taking photos, it might be good to team up with someone for this. Follow these notes. Taking a photo for a composite is not the same as taking a normal photo. The quality of the information is more important than the quality of the photo. Things like: resolution, lighting, camera position, pose etc are all of prime importance.

You will need to visually integrate all elements into one believable whole. Hints on how to do this are here.

Assets and related links

Introduction to the course, Photoshop History, Key Technical Skills, Selection to Mask Workflow.

Assets for Lesson 1
Name Description Link
Simple file A sample file showing Key Technical Skills. Right click download (18MB)
Boy A sample file using the boy image as source: Right click download (26MB)
Girl A sample file using the girl image as source Right click download (34MB)
Slides: Portraits The slides from my talk on portraits. Right click download (26MB)