The Non-Joy of Photoshop

Program cover for the upcoming Music Inspires 2017 concert.

Unless you’ve been following me on Facebook, you may not know that I have become Girl Friday for a friend who is a fine arts chairman at posh college preparatory.  I point out the poshness because it’s the only way the school can afford the many concerts and productions it has a year.  Aside from assisting in musical production (such as Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables), I’ve taken over creating programs for her musical events. 

It’s not just a matter of slapping information on a flyer.   Oh no – you know me.  Each flyer must be a production in itself, a work of art, starting with the cover.  It must have acceptable graphics.  In the past, I was content to surf the internet looking for freebies.  But since the music department has upped the ante with lavish musicals, I realized that I needed to take the covers to the next level.  In other words, create my own graphics like the one in the picture on the left.  Looks pretty simple, right?

Let’s talk about Adobe Photoshop.  I used the program for years to perform simple sharpening, cropping, etc.  Then the program became increasing exorbitant and too rich for my blood.  Now Adobe allows users to pay a monthly subscription for the software that’s always kept updated via uploads.   Okay, I thought.  I can teach myself how to slap some elements together and voila, my vision will be realized.   I downloaded Photoshop CC 2017 and opened it. 

Let me say, right out of the box, the program isn’t the least bit intuitive.  Adobe prides itself on saying there are 10 different ways to do one thing.  I had trouble discovering one.  The software has become so bloated and involved.  The drill down menus have drill down menus.  I had to google how to turn off the splash screen.  The Adobe site had tutorials but not the ones I needed, of course.  So I visited for lessons.  What was I trying to do? The music bar in the picture did not have a transparent background which meant I had to cut it out or mask it.  Masking is an action Photoshop has always done and it even has magic masking that failed to work like magic despite control tweaking.  And – you know me again – I’d picked a graphic that required detailed painstaking masking around the bars, between the lines and notes and flowers.   Then I discovered that only keyboard commands worked some of the actions, so simple clicking would not do.  Fun. Fun. Fun.  By the time I realized properly adding text to the graphic wasn’t really intuitive either, I was ready toss everything out the window (but the desktop is expensive and really heavy).  Eventually I broke down and added the text using Microsoft Publisher.  And that was just over masking. There was still the zillion other things Photoshop could do chirps Adobe.

I may have to bring my visions down a notch.  Sheesh.

Surreal Saturday: Thorin As Art

Well, I’ve been dropping balls, so to speak, but I’m determined to pick up blogging again.  The transition has been a bit bumpy, so my juggling a bit atrocious right now.  Concentration goes well, but the persistence and pace – not so much.  Baby steps.

Today’s post is not so much surreal, as surreally beautiful.  ArmitageWorld has been all aflutter this week over the new Hobbit trailer and more peeks at RA as Thorin.  Instead of throwing in my very snarky 3 cents worth, I will be uncharacteristically nice and offer up this gorgeous digital painting by ThreshTheSky.   Done completely in Photoshop, it arrested my attention.  ThreshTheSky has quite a talent.  Check out her gallery.

Digital painting by ThresTheSky at DeviantArt


Creativity! Color Drawings 4

My new-found creativity is costing me money.  I was using graphite pencils drawing a certain actor when I had the urge to see him in color.

Back I headed to the arts supply store for color pencils and a few how-to books.  These books were a rude awakening.  A color pencil was not the same as a regular graphite pencil but with color.  Using them is an art in itself; that’s why the medium is called color painting and not color drawing.   Oh my.

The books also informed me I needed a lot more supplies before I could start: harder finishing pencils; acetate under my arm to prevent smudging; a color blender; the right paper; masking product; proper tape; fixative, an electric sharpener. I needed the right pencils to use just the right amount pressure on transfer paper to get my image from a sketch to the work paper.  I needed to study techniques like burnishing, underpainting and color blending.  I needed to practice, practice, practice light, medium and heavy shading because – wait for it – color pencil can’t really be erased.  Oh.  But, the books reassured, don’t be nervous, just jump in and have fun.

After my hand stopped shaking, I jumped in.  The first painting, a weirdly shaped apple, resembled something out of a Salvadore Dali work.  Not good.  The second was a scratchy looking unappetizing pear.  Hmm.  The third and fourth were more tries with a more normal looking apple and red bell peppers.   That certain actor won’t be a color painting until I stop sweating blood over vegetables and fruit, alas.

If you can’t see flash, the links are here and here.

Still life shading lessons, color pencil




Creativity! Guy Drawing 2

I’m celebrating Columbus Probably Did Not Discover America Day with more drawing.  I’m working very slowly through a lesson book.  I was sketching last night and people in chat teased it wasn’t Richard Armitage. So I make up for it today with a nice close up of him.

Richard Armitage as Guy, simple outline trace lesson; pencil.  If you can’t see Flash, it’s here.


Creativity! – A Drawing

Well I did it.  It’s my first drawing in over 15 years.  Strangely I started playing with my new Wacom tablet, had problems, became impatient, and switched to pencil and sketchbook.  What started as a doodle turned into a portrait.  Hmm, I wonder who it could be…    I’m still having a lot of trouble with the eyes and some proportion problems but this is a first effort.

To keep me honest and stop from overdoing and then trashing it (that’s what I tend to do), I’ll post it here. (Sorry about the image quality.  The scan washed out the midtones, so I took a snap with my iPhone.)  If you can’t see the image, the link is here.

I want to thank Zelda Thornton for inspiring me to draw again.  Well, and also a certain RA.

ETA:  This is my final version with scanner.