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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Most Valuable Tool in The Studio

The most valuable tool in the studio is my Photoshop software as old and behind-the-times as it may be. Well that and my camera--as old and behind-the-times as that may be too. Looking at work in progress through the computer is like having highly respected mentors at your side giving you their added perspectives.

Aside from pushing the color via quick fix, color, exposure, vividness and sharpness, I adore the time and distress Photoshop saves me deciding if an artwork is finished or needs tweaking.

Before Photoshop, I would live with the piece standing against the wall on its head and reflected in a mirror for a quite a while while I scrutinized, made judgments, made changes or didn't, and decided if it was done and worthy of signature. Now all of that is accomplished with a just a few clicks. Seeing the computer translations speeds up my decision making process and in so doing increases production. I know faster what needs to be done, if anything, do it and move on. Fantastic.

Here are three more effects I use to analyze my work with this valuable tool before signing off:

Flipped on its head, it's very clear that the two croquet balls in the grass in the lower right-hand corner must be added to balance the ball shapes of the sunglasses:

Converted to black and white, the tonal values look pretty good, but the balls still must be added to break up the darkness in that corner. The croquet balls should be warm and light colors.

The mirror image of the painting confirms again that the right side needs strengthening--the addition of the balls and perhaps some deepening of the shadows on the bent leg of the standing figure?

Conclusion: it's time to remove the rubber cement I used to block off three croquet balls in the grass on the right, see how that glue did as a paint blocker, and paint in the balls with some warm color of the same value as the grass--perhaps leave a highlight? I'll also take a look at that gal's bent leg.


  1. interesting. I've used the mirror, but never played with photoshop to look at a piece like this. The b/w image to check the tonal values is a good one...

  2. Looking at the other views in PS Evelyn, is often an eye opener. While working we're usually so intensely involved, we miss really seeing what we are doing. It's a way to step back. I love checking a piece from time to time to see how it's going. Very helpful.

  3. Dear Linda,
    Me, too, interesting.
    A classic and computer hopeless Sadami cannot use Photoshop well. I use a mirror, squint eyes or leave work in a dim room.
    But please be kind to yourself. Your critique might be picking yourself.

    Also, my rule of thumb is "not to tamper too much." Watercolor work can be fixed only a limited area.

    Kind regards, Sadami

  4. I like the attitude of this--a bit like they're judging the viewer. Crorquet balls will change that; possibly make it better.

    I play with Corel Draw/Paint but don't really use it for painting. When a painting's finished I prop it next to the monitor and make adjustments in free Picasa before posting it on my blog. I stick with free-hand drawing/painting because I like things slightly skewed.

    You had me drawing mandelas for a while.

  5. I guess that should have been croquet and mandalas! I forget to edit when I comment!

  6. Hi L.W....oh I agree 1,000 percent, it is great to check one's work in photoshop. Often I find out that I painted something ALL in midtones. Borrrring. So, when I see that I have done that I go back and add dark and light accents.
    This is an interesting painting you've got going here. I'll be watching to see the final. :)

  7. Believe me Sadami, I am no computer know-it-all. My second computer ever came with this Jasc Photoshop software to use for a limited time, I liked it, I bought it--Then that software a more advanced upgrade called Pro 8, I bought it--that's the one that if I knew how, I could doctor photographs by adding vector layers. I have no idea what those are nor do I can I tell what they do for the photograph. But just these four simple checks are helpful. The tricky part is really knowing what you are checking out--composition, color value, balance. Those we learned from books, years of doing and school. The photographic softwares are just an aid we can use when we're too caught up in the work to see clearly.

    Hallie, There are no projectors in the studio or transfer paper on my shelves; everything is drawn free-hand. Free hand drawing is my strongest attribute; painting is not. These four Photoshop effects are for checking out free hand work accurate or a skewed with regards to color balance and composition. They offer other ways to look at your work and judge your progress.
    As for mandalas--one was enough for this over-the-top hopelessly mindful yogi. It'll be croquet balls in the corner pocket.

    Me too Celeste. In spite of Sadami's warning I have been pushing this watercolor beyond appropriate handling just to see what happens. Though I won't pitch it--it has been a valuable learning experience.

    I seldom have to photo-shop check my acrylic work, but this watercolor, I thought it would be a good idea to really see how it was going. Sure enough I found it could use some strengthening of values and some item in that lower corner for balance. Converting to black and white is a fantastic aid.