Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[Question] Do you need to spend years to get a hold of Photoshop?

Lets get Anal about Photoshop!

Talking about Photoshop with a friend this got me wondering...
Do you need to spend years to get a hold of Photoshop? I mean you seem to have mastered it quite well with my PSP (Paint Shop Pro) skills with a year of training my skills don't come as near as good as yours ^.^
Any advice or web to learn tricks?

Ahh.. I love talking about Photoshop.   I think the best way to sum up working in Photoshop is to compare it to Anal Sex.  Some people fear/hate/loathe/despise it.  Some people love it.  It can cause pain if not done right, but can cause pleasure if done correctly. 

This is a question from Alectra of Alectra's Playground.  Its not an easy question about 'getting a hold' of Photoshop.  Its probably best not to think of Photoshop as A tool, but to think of it as a collection of MANY tools.  As its a professional piece of software, there are many parts of it that an amateur like myself and most of us out here making caps just won't utilize.  The color correcting portions of it are some of the best in the industry... but do I honestly care if the flash used to take the picture was juuuust a bit too blue?  And therefore doesn't match the sunlight coming in the window in the background?  No... I don't care.  But if I did, Photoshop could correct it.  Do I care that the image is 300dpi, and 2500pixels X 7000pixels?  Yes I do.  And Photoshop can crop that image down to the size I want.  And in all honesty it can do it in about 7 different ways.  

I think I covered my experience with Photoshop in a previous post, but I'm a little to lazy this morning to search it out, and I expect that most of you would just rather read it here, than open up a new post anyway.  I learned Photoshop when it was Version 3 or 4 (the current version is 12).  The 'new' thing at that time was layers, but it was still a beast of a program.  I learned it in a classroom as part of my photography degree.  At the time I thought it was interesting, but not really important to a photographer.  After that first course I changed my major from 'Commercial Photography' to 'Digital Imaging'.  I fell in love.  Now that was back in 1995 or 1996.  And I wouldn't say there has been any gap between then and now that I haven't been 'learning' about Photoshop.  

The program is just that big.  And each version comes out with something new.  I don't believe I have ever met anyone that said they knew ALL of Photoshop, and I've met plenty of people that make my 'Mad Skillz' at Photoshop look just sad.  

So first thing... you will never learn everything about Photoshop.  And thankfully you didn't ask that.  But I can't give a good answer on how long it will take to get a 'hold' of Photoshop.  That really depends on what you want to do with it.  If you want to make caps, there isn't to much to it.  Making a 'new' Image, making some sort of background, pulling a photo (or drawing, or whatever) into it, then adding some text.  Easy Peasy.  But each of these steps can be as complex as you want.  

I think my best recommendation to learn Photoshop is to take a class.  Any introductory class will give you the basic skills to do basic manipulations, and create new images.  If you don't want to take a class, and feel somewhat comfortable in image editing, then get Photoshop installed and start playing.  If you see something that you want to do (oh wow, how did she get the text to glow like that!?)  then search online for tutorials.  I still search online to figure some things out. 

But please read that part again... '...feel somewhat comfortable in image editing'. 

Thats important, as I really don't think Photoshop is a good place to start, unless you plan on using it professionally.  Paint Shop Pro is a good place to start.  For caps, Comic Life seems to be pretty good.  There are a lot of image editors out there that are easy and welcoming to new users.  Adobe seems to pride itself on Photoshop's steep learning curve.  Even the 'consumer' version of Photoshop (Photoshop Elements, now in its 9th version) isn't easy.  And the interface is JUST different enough between Photoshop and Photoshop Elements that skill in one doesn't necessarily transfer to the other.  I spent 2 months playing in Elements, and finally gave up.  I could do something in 30 seconds with Photoshop that took me 4 minutes to do in Elements. 

I think with the skills you've shown in Quark and Paint Shop Pro (Photoshop has elements of both), I think you would probably be 'comfortable' in photoshop after about a year of use.  That year would probably be frustrating as all hell.  Since you already do things in Quark and Paint Shop Pro, I would suggest you make a cap in your normal method, then starting from scratch, do it again in Photoshop.  I read you write up on your Magazine covers, and in all honesty I could probably do each of those steps in Photoshop.   But as you find a stumbling block (how do you turn this image around?  How do I make the text fit in a square?  How do I change the opacity of this background?....) you will need to go online and find a tutorial that covers it.  There are plenty of tutorials for Photsohop out there that are free.  Most are good.  Some are great, and some are just awful.  You just have to keep trying until you figure it out. 


  1. I agree with Caitlyn.

    I learned what I know about photoshop through trial and error. I've used it since version 6, and only recently moved up to CS1 (Version 10 I believe?) Before that, I had used Quark and many other photo-editing tools.

    I think it would be easier now to learn than back when I started a long time ago. There were no video tutorials on the net, and the teaching helps were mostly text files, occasionally they'd have graphics.

    I just sat down with the program ... grabbed a picture, and went "OK, what does THIS tool do?" and then play with the sliders and change around the values.

    Honestly, that is how I learned to program as well, though I went to college for that. When I was in high school, I'd just look at programs in magazines (COMPUTE!) and look at why they did certain things. Tinkering is always fun.

    If you know how to create a caption in a program, then learning it in anther program is a bit easier, but more time consuming initially. It is just like learning a second language. You'll think in your native tongue and then have to convert it to the new one. After awhile, you'll tend to think in the new language.

  2. Took me maybe a year to learn photoshop. It is all about tinkering with every possible thing in it. I only use it for captions but every once in a blue moon I edit a picture or two to make it a little more fun. It takes time to learn it. I recently played around with GIMP and figuring out how to do the same things I do with PS took some time. I still favor PS over all the tools but I really can't install PS at work. ;-)

    Comic Life is a good program to do series. Even for single panels it is fast and easy. However, if I'm not making speech bubbles or several boxes, I find that PS is faster and easier to make the classic caption that has text and image. It also lets you manipulate the text box and layout a lot better so you can make amazing looking captions like Caitlyn.

  3. Hmmm thank you everyone for the suggestions ^.^

    And Caitlyn I do want to try Photoshop for real, as far I got inside this field in Photography was during my Technical Editor course, so far I got the basics with Photoshops Elements 6.0, which I have to say that with the proffesor being inquired by me every minute ^o^ I got a hold of the program to use it with Quark in two weeks...

    To do things similar to what I've already done in Quark, which by the way took me a week to learn everything (I know I learn by trial and error but with a proffesor and listening to the advices, everything works ^.^)

    And yes I will take a course in Photoshop, I want to achieve that level of Photoshop were you can practically photomanip a pic in less than an hour...

    There was a boy going to my course that was able to do amazings things with Photoshop (like drawing, adding new colours to a dress of a model, changing the background, fitting a person perfectly in another photo without looking like Gulliver or a Gnome in it :P) and I always wondered if I could do something like that, so thank you again for the head up ^-^
    Hus and Kisses Alectra

  4. I used to make tons of little banners and wallpapers when i had Photoshop, got some pretty niffy looking things out of it and was all self taught. But I haven't had Photoshop in years, so i would heave to brush up on it again. So I haven't used Photoshop because I don't know the program, it's just I don't have the program to really mess with it and make a cap in it.

    But someone has to make comic life look good right? Sasha is giving it a bad name. :P

  5. @ Jennifer I think my caps looks "right" in Comic Life i have even tried Powerpoint, but forgot about it (less options, more hard to do) and i think i will never use Paint though Evie and Smitty are brilliant using it ^o^
    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  6. CL sucks like Jennifer. Is that a good or bad thing? LOL.

  7. @ Alectra

    Yes Alectra, yours look very nice. ^_^ So does Smitty's, Bren's, and even Sasha's. I was just poking fun at the little slut.

    "CL sucks like Jennifer. Is that a good or bad thing? LOL." See? *giggle*

    and I suck very very well, so I would think that's a very good thing. :P

  8. Wow.... lots of responses already!

    Yea, I think just sitting with a program and 'playing' is the way to go. And I agree that learning a popular program today is a lot easier with the video tutorials. Its funny though as Photoshop generally has more than one way to do something, I'll often see someone in a tutorial do something that I already know how to do, and actually do it better than the tutorial!

    And thanks for bringing back the memories. I don't recall which magazine it was, but I remember playing with the programs in some mag for my Commie 64. I would impress my friends by manipulating the programs in it. Sadly I never kept up with it, and now several of those friends are professional programmers.

    A lot of the recent additions to Photoshop have been to make manipulating photos easier. Sadly as I don't do that on a regular basis, I don't bother learning the new tools. GIMP, so far as I know is the most comprehensive photo editor next to Photoshop. It lacks some of the industry standard color correcting tools, but it has most of the same capabilities. I've seen people so good in GIMP that I doubt Photoshop would do them any good. Plus they would suffer the same thing as me going to GIMP... the controls are different enough that it can be hard to find a way to do what you know can be done.

    And when it comes to Comic Life, I think it does a great job. what I really like are the people that take it beyond just a 'Comic Book' style. Most of us could pick out a begininer at Comic Life with no problem, but I've been surprised at some peoples caps that I later found out were comic life.

    If you learned the basics in PHotoshop Elements, then I would stay with that. Really there isn't a lot of difference between the two. None of the differences I know of would affect how I make caps in any way.

    And remember, saying you can do a photomanip in less than an hour is a vague statement. What type of photonamip are you meaning? Cutting someone out of a background? Changing colors? 'fixing' little errors or skin blemishes? Changing eye colors? All of these are different skill sets. I can do some of them very quickly, while others would still take me a long while.

    You are one of the people that I didn't realize you were using Comic Life.

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  10. @Jennifer

    Thank you that's really means a lot to me ^-^

    Well sucking depends on what you are actually sucking "giggle" i don't think sucking a steel bar would make something good of your mouth! eh, eh, eh


    We posted quite at the same time "giggle"
    Uhmmmm for less than an hour i meant for the basics things I've already done with Quark, those took me 2 or 3 hours, sometimes it pains me, because of being dense at the right use of a tool or not finding something i like while a photomanip then starting over.

    I think the biggest example for this was the one i did for Simone, her mag was carefully done, i wanted to come "close to her level" and tried to photomanip that model in the middle of the mag, still that took me like two hours, but that didn't scare me away i tried my best and then i was happy with the final result, now that i look back at it, i see that i could change a thing or two but those are regrets and me being motivated to improve everyday ^-^
    Still thank you again for the advices

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra