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.


My Psyche Breaks Out or I’m Ready for My Closeup, Mr. DeMille

As pointed out in my London saga when Winston loves his Happy Pills, my psyche flourishes. This is a very welcome development.  I started blogging in an attempt to jump-start my creativity which has lain dormant since law school.  Law school by its nature teaches to think inside the box and by the law; creative legal thinking could very well get your client 20 years to life. Over time, my right-brain hemisphere, the seat of creativity, has been very slowly awakening to the idea of returning to things I loved: writing and drawing.  I even darkened the door of an art supply store for the first time ever inspired by Zelda’s wonderful artist blog. Schools supplied my earlier tools, so this was a novel experience for me just to buy pencils, charcoal, knead-able erasers and sketch books.  I felt a sense of accomplishment walking out with my supplies.

So armed with writing and drawing tools I’m getting right to it, right?  Wrong!

Instead I entered the addictive world of video making!  For those of you who miss the daily chat room discussions (usually 8:00PM onwards CDT), the topic of video making arose.  Video maven BccMee explained the programs she used to make her great videos.   She pointed out Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 bundled with Windows 7.  (It also is downloadable for Vista).  Now, I’ve never paid any attention to this program for some strange reason, I felt compelled to try it.  I had gigabytes of video taking up space in my iPhone that needed to seen by somebody’s eyes.  So I downloaded it all and proceeded to make movies – for hours.  Now I understand the addictive quality of making fanvids.  This program is so elegant and simple, it’s almost – I repeat almost- idiot proof.  It’s fascinating watching the movie coming together piece by piece to create the finished product.   Finally I produced my first actually watchable videos.  Who woulda thunk it?  So for my 100th post, I’ll share them.

My first attempt is July 4th fireworks filmed live with an iPhone 4 in HD.  YouTube blocked it so I had to audio swap (which you can watch) but the original is now on Vimeo.  There’s also a short slideshow tribute to my dog Lance if you wish to view.



I filmed the next videos at one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen, the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, Ohio.  I visited this summer with Trinalin who does the honor of correcting my lousy vision.  These videos are entertaining and informative especially if you remember the old days and love bikes.   Try to watch close to HD if you can.




So, I know you’re thinking: does this mean you’re making fanvids? I don’t know, the idea is tempting.  However considering the quality of some of the fabulous ones I’ve seen, I will certainly take my time with the music and compilation.  The bar is so high in this area.

So what do you think about fan vidding?  Any tips, stories, recommendations?  Feel free to share!