A Novice’s Journey through the Land of Photoshop

Here’s what happens when you use every tool in Photoshop on one image.

Image shows a blobby green creature saying "what am I doing here?" on a background of clouds, with several portions of the cloud image showing alteration.
An image I made by using every tool in Photoshop


Of course, that’s only what happens when you use every tool on one image when you don’t know how to use Photoshop. For the Augmented Reality group, I am responsible for the visual aspects of the how-to guide we will be creating to teach instructors how they can make pedagogical AR apps of their own. That means I’m learning Photoshop and InDesign from the ground up, without ever having used them before.

There are a few different strategies for doing this. One is just to mess around and see what things do, a strategy responsible for my strange alien image. Another is to Google how to do specific things when you want to, which I’ve certainly taken advantage of. Also, you can pursue tutorials that will teach you how to use Photoshop. I’ve decided to use a mixture of these strategies rather than pursuing a formal tutorial as my central means of learning because I heard from more experienced Photoshop users that formal tutorials are not always useful for specific applications. I looked for something that could help me get a sense of what the possibilities are without spending large amounts of time on things that might not be useful to me. This 25-minute video tutorial, from the site Lifehacker, taught me how to use most of the photo tools in the program. Then I messed around with this image of the Grand Canyon. In this image, I used Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, and the Dodge, Burn, Sponge, Blur, Sharpen, and Smudge tools. See the before and after in the slider below.

So I’m now learning to use Photoshop a little better. I’m still not sure what the specific demands of the how-to guide will be, but I’ll have Google and all the tutorials the Internet can muster at my side when they arrive. I’m looking forward to it!

Last year, I wrote for viz., the DWRL’s now-retired visual rhetoric blog. I talked a lot about how images make arguments, operating under the assumption that every image is rhetorical. My goal for the how-to guide will be to make the images support the rhetoric of the text in the guide. I want the images to make the reader feel like they are competent to create an app like ours. I am not sure yet how Photoshop will help me do that, but as I continue to explore, perhaps I’ll discover how.

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