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To anyone reading this as a pdf or a handout, the following is derived from the COSC2532 Advanced Electronic Imaging Wiki.

The address is: http://opticalenquiry.com/photoshop All links on the pdf are live and will redirect to that Wiki.

Welcome to COSC2532 Advanced Electronic Imaging. It is run as one of RMIT's electives, however, it welcomes students from all parts of RMIT. It assumes some basic familiarity with Photoshop and. more importantly, some experience with drawing and/or painting. It seeks to cater to students at all levels, but it can not promise to teach painting and drawing skills to someone who has never done either. If you have any doubts as to your suitability for this course, you are welcome to come and talk with me (make an appointment via email at: xxx).

Coures Description

In the following three sections the course and the topic of Electronic Imaging is introduced:


What is Electronic Imaging?

There are (at least) three different ways to use Photoshop in the context of image editing:

As a painter
Using the brush tool and little else. A painter tends to start and finish their painting entirely within Photoshop, and does not import any external assets. Their use of Photoshop is quiet basic, with little recourse to Photoshop's advanced composting tools.
As a compositor
The integration of many acquired elements into a single image. A compositor will first acquire files from external sources such as: cameras, web search results and 3D applications. These they bring them into Photoshop to be composited, using Photoshop's advanced compositing tools such as layers, masks and adjustments
As a photographer
Using destructive adjustments on a single-layer image. This is a simple post-processing approach.

These are crude characterisations of complex positions, however they broadly determine the sorts of expectations that students come to a Electronic Imaging course with. The toolset of a painter is smaller than that of a compositor and employs far fewer layers. A painter is required to work very quickly, and too many layers would get in the way of this. This course supports all forms of Photoshop use, but delivers mainly a compositing skill-set as this is the larger skill-set. This course believes that the best painter / compositor / photographer is, to some degree, a hybrid between all these skill-sets.


Aims of this course

The aims of this course are threefold:

  1. To deliver a core set of Photoshop technical skills needed by the digital painter. These are summarised in the page Key Technical Skills.
  2. To develop a core set of picture-making skills needed by the digital painter. Some of these are summarised in this microsite.
  3. To develop in the student a sense of their own strengths as a creative artist. This are delivered through tutorial engagement and personal consultation.



Expectations of this course

The preceding course aims are evaluated throughout the course, through continuos assessment. They are also evaluated at the end of the course, at which point all assignments and exercises should be handed in. Evaluation is done with reference to the following criteria:

  1. That you have demonstrated technical competence in all key aspects of Photoshop practice. See the page Key Technical Skills for a brief outline of these skills.
  2. That your file is organized according to the COSC2532 Advanced Electronic Imaging 'house style'. See the page Naming Conventions for details.
  3. That all your research and reference material are presented in an orderly and consistent manner. See the page Reference for more details.
  4. That, by the final review, all assignments and exercises have been completed and uploaded together with small jpg preview (see the page File for more instructions). See also the page Handing in Protocols for more details.
  5. That you have demonstrated competence in your pictorial skills. Please refer to the appendix sections of teach drawing for an indication of what these might be. Clearly, given the nature of the topic, these are to an extent negotiable, according to the particular aims of your creative output.
  6. That your creative output is original and engaging.
  7. That you have demonstrated engagement with the course. This might be through asking questions in class, the seeking of consultations or suchlike.


The way that these expectations relate to the Course Guide and your coursework is as follows:


Self-Directed Practice: 50%

Self-directed practice is assessed with reference to the following:

- Week 6
You will present in this first consultation enough material to give an effective idea of what your self-directed practice is to be. This may be in the form of photos, sketches, web links and suchlike. I will give you feedback, and may suggest related artists to look at. You are expected to follow up on these leads.
- Week 9
Over the course of the Academic Development Week and Week 8, your development work for self-directed practice should have been finalized. You should have made an effective start on the project and be able to present this to me for review during consultation. By Week you will have received your second consultation.
- Week 10
Your work should be well underway. This should be evidenced with late-stage drafts, completed technical experiments etc.
- Final review
For the final review, your work should be technically proficient, original and engaging.

NB: Self-directed practice can not be accomplished last-minute. By the time the assignment is due for submission, you should have received at least three personal consultations. These may be in class, or through one-to-one sessions. Any project presented to me without a history of consultation will be considered to have failed.


Common Assignments: 50%

At least two of following three assignments are expected to be uploaded for review by Week 12:

They will be assessed for how effectively you have understood and applied the particular learning items in each exercise.

Course Content

The following summarises the content of the COSC2532 Advanced Electronic Imaging. This course lasts 13 weeks, with the semester break taking place after 7 weeks. The first five weeks delivers key technical skills, and will be delivered through common assignments (i.e. homework) and exercises (delivered in class). These are detailed in the Wiki page that corresponds to that lesson. During the second half of the course, students are expected to be engaged in self-directed practice. This will be subject to regular review through group and personal consultation. Occasional exercises will be delivered, which address a number of topics. Some of these will be improvised, in response to class needs or requests from students. Others are detailed in the section Miscellaneous Exercises.

Lesson 1

In Lesson 1 the six key technical skills are introduced. These skills are: Masking, Clipping, Layer Blends, Adjustment Layers, Filters and Reduction of toolset.

This skill-set will not be entirely suitable for a web designer or a photographer, but is suitable for the general needs of a Photoshop compositor.

This course requires that a student's Photoshop file follows the house Naming Conventions. This is to serve the easy review of assignments and also to encourage effective self management in students.

Lesson 2

In Lesson 2 procedural painting is delivered. What is procedural painting? First the problem: a digital brush is a naturally dumb beast, with none of the nuance of its analogue namesake. Digital images can easily look flat, with no evident difference between regions of different texture. Hence a portrait will be painted with the skin, clothing, hair and jewellery all looking the same.

Photoshop is not naturally suited to emulating this variety of difference. It is primarily editing software, not authoring software. However, using by employing some of Photoshop's tools, variety can be induced. The tools introduced in this lesson are: Filters, Adjustments, Blend Modes and Tools. These are all post-processing tools, i.e. effects that are applied after the first act of creation.

Lesson 3

In Lesson 3 'photoshoping' is introduced. Photoshop is the only piece of software to have become a verb. It refers to the act of removing and / or adding to a photograph. Hence, replacing your auntie's head with that of a parrot is an act of photoshoping. For what it does, this course also refers to photoshoping as an add remove. Add remove is the core skill of compositing, but less important to the average painter. It is, for want of a better word, the 'magic' of Photoshop.

This lesson also revisits Photoshop's Adjustments and their role in color adjustment. This is a large topic, which will only be lightly introduced. Color adjustment is very important to photographers, but all Photoshop users will find it important. The most important adjustment is Curves, and if you learn no other than learn this.

Lesson 4

Lesson 4 introduces the first of the pictorial topics of this course: perspective. It is possible to do a painting that is spatially convincing, yet does not involve any perspective (for example, a simple portrait profile). Howvere, perspective is vital for any artist wishing to depict believable architectural space, such as the interior of a room or a street scene. It is also vital for the depiction of small, regular objects such as in product design.

This lesson also addresses tone. The three perceptual components of color are hue, saturation and lightness. Tone may be regarded as the most important of this triumvirate. After all, a painting may exist without hue and saturation, but not without tone. Tone also carries the major portion of the 'semantic component' of an image, i.e. its meaning.

Lesson 5

Lesson 5 introduces the remaining two perceptual components of color: hue and saturation. Together these constitute the chroma component of color. Hue is the 'name' of the chroma component (e.g. red, blue, green etc) and saturation refers to the intensity of that chroma component. Chroma is far more difficult to understand than lightness, especially its hue component.

Miscellaneous Exercises

Following the end of the first half of the course, a number of exercises will be delivered. These will be in responce to the needs of the group and many of them will be improvised. A small selection of exercises can be found here.