SO I HERD YOU LYK PHOTOMANIPULATIONZSH
I spent some time today looking through the new submissions in the PhotoManipulation galleries. I done this in order to gauge what the 'average' user is submitting, and what themes are interesting people.
The majority of submissions were by new practitioners, and what they lacked in technical skill, they more than made up for in imagination! Ive been introduced to a whole new world of eight-breasted animal hybrid women and other exotic curiosities!
With those funky considerations aside, what I have assembled here is some pointers that will assist new PhotoManipulators in their journey of self-improvement. Some of the points here may even be helpful to intermediate manipulators, hopefully there will be something here for everyone.
IMAGE RESOLUTION / CLARITY
The use of lo-quality / lo-res source images is an issue that affects many of the submissions in the PM gallery. Many Deviants may say "Why the hell does it matter..?" - in response I'd argue that it is one of the most integral aspects of producing high quality manipulations. A frequent question that is asked of established manipulators is "Why is your work so crisp / clean? How do you achieve that quality to the finish..?" It is most likely due to the fact that the artist is using high quality stock resources.
The basic premise here is that stock images are the raw building materials of the manipulated work; the higher quality the source files, the higher the quality of your final output. We don't have to go offsite and start signing up to third party stock-photography sites in order to improve our work; a basic understanding of pixel-based resolution will enable you to create more pleasing work. To get you started, here are a couple of basic guidelines to reinforce these principles:
Cellphone / Webcam photos are generally not going to cut it. Sorry to piss on many collective bonfires, but I think its worth discouraging people from using these types of images in manipulations. Low-end digital cameras are not out of peoples price-ranges - and if you really are poverty stricken, use DA's excellent free stock resources, many of which are great quality / resolution.
Here is a directory containing hundreds of DA stock accounts - more than you could ever need! fantasystock.deviantart.com/ar…
And here is an awesome directory of 'Unrestricted' stock accounts (meaning there is more freedom in the image usage: lawrencededark.deviantart.com/…
A mahoosive directory which compiles stock resources groups, pretty kool because it categorises them making it easier to locate what you need: news.deviantart.com/article/12…
Gain an understanding of Image Resolution, DPI and quality - lo-resolution source files will generally make your work look 'scrappy', Ive found a great little article online which explains image quality in an easy to understand format:
Image resolution, DPI and Quality
Take these pointers on-board, because its little things like these that seperates the amateurs from the pros
(Kind thanks to `FantasyStock who assisted me with linkage) x
GETTING MORE 'PUNCH'
A lot of the work submitted by new practitioners lacks 'punch', meaning the source images used to create the work are dull because of poor lighting conditions or incorrect camera settings etc. A simple way to get the most out of your source image is to use the 'Levels' command in Photoshop (Image > Adjustments > Levels).
Levels is simply a way of tweaking the contrast of an image, using sliders to control the 'levels' of the blacks, whites and midtones. I found a charming little video tutorial that explains the concept beautifully:
This girl has a cute voice! ^-^
More impact can be achieved, but just be cautious in not 'over-doing it' - sometimes only the most subtle of adjustments needs to be made. Check out the video, start getting to grips with Levels, your work will get better. I promise you
FILTERS, FILTERS, FILTERS
Ok, so you just got PhotoShop, and your messing with the awesome 'one-click' filters. Noones going to deny you the initial joy of toying with these fun effects, but as a manipulator you should outgrow your useage of them after your first week of practice.
Killjoy! they cry.. Well, Im gonna let you in a little secret; all Photoshop practitioners can recognise a filter from a mile off, so unfortunately nobody is going to think your kool because your pic has an awesome sketch effect applied to it.
"..What am I to do, its all so overwhelming??!!11"
Well, there are some things that you can get your head around immediately that will enhance your skills immensely. First and foremost, the act of cutting out or 'masking' is something well worth knowing. A lot of new practitioners will use the eraser tool or 'magic wand tool' to achieve the effects they desire, but there are other methods which are just as simple to do but with infinitely better results. Learn the industry standard ways of cutting / masking, here are some resources to help get you started with that:
Layer Masks Explained by =kuschelirmel-stock: kuschelirmel-stock.deviantart.…
Layer Masks, bread and butter for the PhotoShop manipulator - layer masks allow you to blend components using black or white brushes and gradients, and are excellent for seamlessly merging elements in a manipulation.
Pen Tool tutorial by =kuschelirmel-stock: kuschelirmel-stock.deviantart.…
..Now then, this ones a bit more advanced - but it is integral to learn it early in the game. Remove objects with clinical precision, and achieve the super-smooth edges as demonstrated by your favourite DA manipulators.
=kuschelirmel-stock's full tutorial directory: kuschelirmel-stock.deviantart.…
Some of the best tutorials Ive seen, well worth a look
PhotoManipulation Tutorials on DA: browse.deviantart.com/resource…
Check out the tutorials on DA and just let rip! The more you do, the better youll get. Simples.
..So, instead of applying a filter to an image, and uploading it to DA - try out a tutorial, and share the results of that with us instead
COPYRIGHT / COPYWRONG
Its unfortunate, but a lot of the images that I viewed today were very blatent copyright infringements
In the world of the tinternets, I know a lot of people think that anything posted online is 'fair-game' and can be stolen indiscriminately - I know this first hand as I have had my work ripped on many occasions by other graphic designers, russian websites and myspace layouts. Stealing copyrighted material does make you look amateur my friends, and experienced practitioners will not respect you as a peer in the community.
I understand that new fish dont know the 'rules of the game' - so lets raise some awareness so we're all singing from the same hymn sheet. When I first started, I was using pictures of celebrities and not crediting, but I changed my ways as I wanted to become a serious artist. A previous GM championed these issues much better than I ever could, so Im going to refresh our collective memories by directing you to the great articles she shared with the community:
What is valid Stock and how to credit wilderwein77.deviantart.com/jo…
This one is absolutely essential if you wish to participate on DA as a photomanipulator, and as you become a better artist - correct citation of resources will enable you to receive DDs.
Digital artists and stock: do you play nice?news.deviantart.com/article/76…
A great article outlining resources and reiterating stock policies. Another essential read.
Three cheers for `IreneLangholm
YOU STILL READING??
Ok.. I think that will do it for now, I was going to mention over-use of certain stock images, but my fingers hurt now, so Im going to call it a day.
I genuinely believe that these few small steps can enable anyone to become a better PhotoManipulator, and in turn increase the talent pool within our diverse gallery. I look forward to seeing new practitioners go crazy and blow us 'old-dogs' out of the water with some seriously messed up styles and technques which are yet to be discovered!
Get busy folks, and most of all - have fun!