Adobe Magazine – June 2007

As you may have heard – if you don’t receive it, yourself – Adobe has just released their June issue of Adobe Magazine for Creative Professionals. I read the cover story a little while ago, written by magazine editor Kimberly Grob. It’s a discussion with Jean-Francois Rauzier and Maggie Taylor about the process behind their digital composites and illustrations and how technology is catching up with their imaginations.

One of the points that I found to be particularly interesting – probably because it’s so true – is that it takes so much time and effort to make things look simple, seamless, effortless. Whether there is a great deal of pre-planning or you’re allowing the art to be created in the moment, it takes a hell of a lot of work to get every detail just right. At the scale these artists work – often in the billions of pixels – everything needs to be just so, because everything can be seen.

Grob also talks about the fact that Photoshop is a tool to help you unleash your creativity. While each filter, brush, selection tool, or action is meant to help you realize your vision, I see so often how easy it is to slip into the pattern of using something because it’s there and thinking that it makes a high quality image. It’s not, “Look, I can use this filter!” or, “I can put a person on a different background!” Granted it’s a judgement call, and a very subjective one at that, but it’s one thing to use a particular filter as an element in your overall process, but another to allow it to dominate your image. Besides, if you use the filters, etc. without massaging the image beyond that, your creation won’t look original. It won’t look professional. It will lack the sophistication you’re probably looking for.

When creating out of the ordinary, crazy, innovative images it is important to find the balance between imaginative and realistic. Even with starkly contrasting elements and a unique vision the effort behind it needs to be invisible, the integration of all the pieces should be seamless, and the tools and effects used should enhance the image, not be the main subject of it. The viewer shouldn’t be overwhelmed with the thought, “This was done in Photoshop.”

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