SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2012

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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@r+ Photoshop for Painters, Part I Adjustments Panel Add Adjustment Layer Figure A. Figure B. David Gran A dobe Photoshop is a powerful tool that can be used for creating original artwork, as well as for photo manipulation and editing. That means that it's also an excellent tool for manipulating other images like students' paintings. Manipulating photos of works in progress can allow students to quickly and efficiently visualize a number of different possibilities for their work. On the other hand, Photoshop is a complicated program, and there's barely enough time in the school year to get all of your projects done, much less introduce sophisticated software into the mix. Luckily, you don't have to dig too deep into Photoshop to see impressive variations with minimal effort. To get started, we don't have to look much further than adding some adjustment layers. Adjustment Layers One discussion that often comes up with students is pushing contrast in their work. Add this layer by clicking on the "Create new fill or adjustment layer" icon in the layers panel (fig. A). This will bring up a selection of adjustment layers, including brightness and contrast. This will open a 24 December 2012 SchoolArts window that has two adjustment sliders. These tools will allow your students to quickly examine and evaluate the areas of the painting that could use further work. Curves In photography, the ratio of the lightest to darkest values of the image is known as the "dynamic range." Manipulating this ratio is easy by using a curves adjustment layer. Without getting into too much detail, you're basically looking at a graph of the tonal range of the image. Now, you can change the range of the image by adjusting the diagonal line that runs across the graph. If you try grabbing and moving it with the cursor, you'll see that you can very quickly manipulate the ratio of values in the image. The most common and effective use of the curves layer is to bring out the contrast by creating an "s curve." Do this by pulling down the line slightly at the first line and up slightly at the third (fig. B). What you are effectively doing is removing a lot of the gray tones from the image. In the example of Natalie's self-portrait, you can see that some areas of the painting would probably benefit from a little more contrast, where some might be better off left alone. Saturation Sometimes we could use a little more color in our lives. Sometimes we could use a little less. The hue/saturation adjustment layer gives students a few more sliders to adjust; changing the hue allows them to preview different color schemes relative to their current one. Changing the saturation allows them to envision their work with more or less intensity of color. Taking It Further Taking just these three adjustment layers out for a spin is enough to get some pretty useful results in examining a work in progress. Students can investigate even further with the other available adjustment layers. When that's exhausted, Photoshop has a whole world of ways to tinker with your imageā€”but don't forget to save time to get back to painting. David Gran teaches high school art and film classes at the Shanghai American School in China and is the author of The Carrot Revolution, a blog about twenty-first century art education (carrotrevolution. blogspot.com). david.gran@saschina.org Look for part two of this article in the January 2013 issue!

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