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  • Photoshop Experience

    I tried doing a search on this but didn't find any threads that really fit with my question.

    I was wondering how each of you learned how to use Photoshop. Was it trial-and-error, or did you pick up a book and teach yourself in a structured manner, or take a class? Or do you just pick up a book when you are stumped with something?

    For those of you that have taken classes, I would be interested to know if you thought they were worthwhile or not.

    I started off with version 4.0 pretty much experimenting and taking a trial-and-error route. I had a copy of the 4.0 Bible but I'd be lying if I said I read it much. My limited knowledge pretty much accomplished what I wanted to do with my artwork so I never really had a need to learn the stuff I was unfamilar with.

    Now that I'm doing restorations I have a more vested interest in learning as much as possible about PS. I bought another copy of the PS Bible when I was using 5.0 (I now use 7.0) and still look through it occasionally. I also picked up the Katrin Eismann book, which has been helpful, though I wish it was more in-depth. I wouldn't be opposed to taking some classes but the ones I've seen listed seem extremely basic.

    Right now I basically evaluate each image and come up with a game plan for how I want to attack it. Then if the image has a specific problem (like a heavily textured surface or extreme fading) I'll look up the problem in Katrin's book and see what she has to say about it. Sometimes I will look stuff up in the PS Bible too, but not as often. Doing this I have learned a bit more about Photoshop, and sometimes have found an easier or more effective way of getting something done. Other times I prefer my methods.

    I think I've done a very good job on the restorations I've done so far, but I wonder if I could have done better or finished them faster if I knew more about PS. I have to admit there are features and techniques I *never* use. Am I the only one? Until last week I had never used a mask before. And I'm still not overly excited about them. I guess I just don't know or can't see the potential for some of the features I've never bothered to play with.

    How many of you use a wide variety of techniques depending on the order and how many of you are like me and have several techniques in your "personal toolbox" that you use over and over again, ignoring the rest PS has to offer?

  • #2
    Hi Lynn,
    I'm a trial and error learner too. And have only begun to experiment with the power of ps. Having little time to read the books, much of my learning has come from the users of this site. There were many tools I just never saw a use for until I started playing with them and now I wonder how I ever worked without them. I search the web when I need to find something I don't know and I always get help here. I spend a lot of time practicing with the challenges and have improved in technique and effeciency because of them and the critiques offered. Things like layers and masks I shied away from until I realized their usefulness.
    Debbie

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    • #3
      Lynn, before joining RPro, I learned mostly from the on-disk tutorials and the books plus practicing thru play. There are classes available in my area, but the best instructor's classes are filled early, and I haven't yet signed up in time. I did attend a seminar with Scott Kelby which was very helpful, and showed me there was a lot to learn. I used layers and quickmasks, but only used a couple of adjustment layers (Levels, Color Balance) and didn't make any changes to the mask after I created the layer. I used clipping layers once in a while. By the time I came to RPro, I thought I knew quite a bit of what was necessary to do my retouching/restoring. I also bought Katrin's book soon after joining. Between seeing what other folks here (and Katrin in her book) were doing with the History brush, making changes in different parts of an image by painting on various Adjustment Layers, creating masks with duplicate channels, using more layers (separating each masked element, etc.), and use of filters I had never used (Decracking tutorial) etc. I realized how much more I wanted and needed to know. When I first came here, I didn't even look at each channel before I started work on an image (and wouldn't have known what to do with what I saw) -- now that's one of the first things I do.

      There is a lot of good technique to be learned from people here -- in the early and more recent Challenges, threads on technique, and the tutorials and tips sections. At first, I didn't see any need for the Photo Art section; when I started participating, I found that it gave me a chance to practice with filters and layer blends that I wouldn't have thought to use in a restoration, but taught me much more about the use of PShop's powers -- and, just as important, the FUN of using those powers. (Thanks, Danny!)

      There is a wealth of info available on the web -- Russell Brown's (Adobe) PDF and QT movie tutorials, other experts on the Adobe site, a number of very talented users all over the web.

      I now understand more of what I read in my PShop books, as well as my tutorials because some techniques just required me to have more practice under my belt and to understand the need and usefulness for them.

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      • #4
        I didn't start out with Photoshop, I was using GIMP at first, and learning that was completely trial and error (mostly error ) until I found this place. from there I started reading through challenge entries, tutorials, tips etc. and just kept on experimenting until I had a decent idea of how each tool worked. eventually, I got Katrin's book and read through that a couple times, from which I learned a ton. a couple months ago I finally got PS 7, and for that it's been lots more experimenting and searching out tutorials. I've never even looked into courses, because I'm a big self learner, and that's how I learn best.

        - David

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        • #5
          Re: Photoshop Experience

          Originally posted by alceria

          I was wondering how each of you learned how to use Photoshop.
          Well, I haven't learned it yet! Most of what I do know came from this site. When I joined the site, I didn't even know what a layer mask was. Now, I don't think I could live without them. I have learned through tutorials from different sites, including this one. We have quite a few excellent tutorials and tips. I find that using the quick time movies probably gives me a better understanding right off the bat than if I read about it in a book. Of course, reading how others handle a problem has also been a big help. I think most of us have certain techniques we use, and we have things available to us in Photoshop that we don't even think about using.

          Ed

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          • #6
            I took a course in Digital Art from the local community college, and it was all pretty basic stuff. Most of the "advanced" usage has come from experimentation and reading what people who know what they're doing have written about how to do a particular task. THIS is one of the BEST resources I have found, right here. If it's not already here to be learned from, just ask, and soon you will know several ways of doing whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.

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            • #7
              I started out learning on PS ELEMENTS that I got free when I purchased my scanner. It was pretty much trial and error. I found this site while surfing. The tutorials here are great help. I do have a couple of books on ELEMENTS.
              I just got my very own PS7 this week for Christmas (ebay for under $250.) I see a lot more visits to Retouchpro in my future.

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