Happy Good Friday to all of you! (even though we aren’t supposed to be commemorating a pleasant occurrence today) It’s a holiday, which means all the children will be at home, shouting boisterously and causing a din complaining of boredom. Well, you can always stuff their mouths with a toy, or if you don’t have one, start an art activity! Get everybody to design Easter eggs together!
But what if those pesky kids start drawing on the walls and floor instead? You’ll get into an even greater mess than before. The cleanest solution is to go hi-tech and let them do it over Photoshop!
Photoshop is a great and flexible tool to make impressive art without having to know how to draw or colour. The newest version of Adobe Photoshop now is CS6, which allows you to do web design with greater ease and can even edit videos now. This isn’t a tutorial entry on Photoshop, so I recommend that you consult the website itself for help on how to use the features in the program, but I do want to encourage you to try it out. It really boosts faith in your artistic prowess once you discover the miraculous fabulous creations you can concoct with just image manipulation tools and techniques!
I would say that the Adobe creative suite is hard to master at first. For beginners, it may present an array of choices with technical names that you aren’t sure how to put together into a coherent whole. It has many effects, but many of them are also highly situational. You can learn a lot from experimenting on your own, though, so don’t be frightened to grab a picture off the internet and do all sorts of stuff with it. Click on everything and see which techniques suit you best. I think Photoshop is the most useful software out of the Adobe selections. Flash is pretty popular and funky, and so is Audition. Premiere Pro is a good substitute for Windows Movie Maker, but I think that’s about all that you will ever have to use if you’re not a designer.
Along the way, though, I realise playing with Photoshop teaches you not just computer skills, but also a greater sense of what constitutes a good artistic effect. Certain effects will look fantastic together, and there’s a lot to learn about things like colour theory when you can physically manipulate the colour and brightness of every object immediately. Some say Photoshop artists aren’t true artists, because they rely on the computer to do all the hard labour, but I beg to differ. The computer can only do what you command it to do; it doesn’t have an independent artistic sense of its own. The computer is just a tool to the artist, but the artist is the one who controls what the computer should do, and what the final picture should look like. It’s as if an artist isn’t an artist if he uses a paintbrush instead of his finger.
But of course the main point of contention is that Photoshop can only work on existing images, so the artist isn’t creating something from scratch. I believe in media studies, we call this “bricolage”, a “piece of makeshift handiwork” or “a construction made of whatever materials are at hand”. I still call this art because it is a process of creatively piecing different images and effects together. If an artist has a creative product in mind but not the means to sketch it himself, but uses existing images — with their own limitations to overcome — I think he is as much an artist, or even more, as someone who creates things specifically to suit his purpose.
So do your inner artist proud and make that perfect Easter egg!