TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: IMPROVING CRAPPY IPHONE PHOTOS

Woohoo! These are the kinds of tutorials that make you feel accomplished after you complete them. Case in point: the Photoshop Curves workshop on Lynda.com 

I took this iPhone shot with crappy, grainy, low-light and competing background clutter, but WONDERFUL facial expressions and poses. And HELLA improved it!

ORIGINAL: Grainy, low-light, blown-out window, distracting lantern in upper right corner

ORIGINAL: Grainy, low-light, blown-out window, distracting lantern in upper right corner

IMPROVED: brighter, more detailed, window toned down, light above man's head removed

IMPROVED: brighter, more detailed, window toned down, light above man's head removed

This took an hour or so of fiddling around with several curves adjustment layers to improve brightness/contrast and color cast, masking of the window to tone down the highlights, the clone stamp tool to add more foliage, patch tool and some clone stamp to get rid of the lantern. 

I think it is awesome-sauce. What say you? 

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: PHOTOSHOP IS NIFTY!

I learned a cool technique for bringing down blown-out, shiny highlights in a person's face. Behold!

Original

Original

With face highlights toned down, slight blur added, and palm removed from background (he was photobombing)

With face highlights toned down, slight blur added, and palm removed from background (he was photobombing)

Ok, so it's not actually that dramatic a difference. But, the one on the right looks a little more profe..... ALRIGHT, I actually prefer the original. It has more dimension and sparkle. 

Still, good tutorial to go through. What do you think?

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: PHOTOSHOP STARTS TO MAKE SENSE

I'm back in it! For the past couple weeks, I've been feeling the familiar motivation - the pull to sit down at my computer and actually learn this dastardly technical program called Photoshop. I've found that, for me, learning is helped immensely by having an actual real-life problem or project I'm trying to tackle. Theoretical stuff gets me nowhere. I watched the "Downsampling for the Web" series of videos awhile back and my eyes glazed over. But then I decided to post my Photoshop projects on this blog and - why hello! - those videos suddenly seem so much more interesting. 

Yesterday, I learned how to use masks and field blur and bokeh effects to create depth of field looks. I LOVE that you can take a regular ol' iPhone shot and give it so much more oomph.   

Original 

Original 

With OOMPH! - Image brightened, statue sharpened, background blurred with a bokeh effect

With OOMPH! - Image brightened, statue sharpened, background blurred with a bokeh effect

The original photo is totally fine. But the second one has that special quality, dontchathink? =) 

TEAcHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: Confession

The confession is this: I'm not writing this blog in real time. This post, I'm actually writing in February 2015, looking back. So this is more of a re-creating of the last two weeks of December rather than a recording of it. It's what I remember and I find that I remember very little. I do recall an exquisitely vivid dream where I checked my bank account and saw $3 in there and tasted real fear. I know there was a lot of work with my college application clients and then holiday parties to attend, and then our New Year's Eve gathering and then suddenly it was 2015 and I had not touched Lynda or my website or any member of the Adobe Creative Suite for almost the entire month of December. So.... what was it all for? What it's all about?

whatsitallabout

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: FROM THE MIDST OF A DEEP FUNK

I spent all of November deeply immersed in learning Adobe Illustrator. I would wake up each morning filled with purpose, jump out of bed, make some coffee and start on the next series of Lynda tutorials. I would create and learn and feel satisfied - like I was building my own stepping-stone path one small paver at a time. And each step was solid and sure, but I could only see two feet ahead of me. But when I finished and it was time to move onto Photoshop, the zing just left me in one great whoosh. I just couldn't find the motivation and the drive. It all felt futile and so small. I was trying to teach myself the very basic, minimum technical requirements and enter the tightly-packed graphic design field against 22-yr-olds with degrees and years of experience. 

So I stopped and I've been sitting here for a couple weeks now. Before me there seems to be a great swamp, full of sucking mud and danger, and I have no idea which direction to place my next step in. 

This is pretty much how I feel right now... so I turned it into an art print:

blahblahblah

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: DAY EIGHT

You know those people who are really inspired by their dogs 'cause their dogs are the best and they love them so? Yeah, that's me now. I took what I've learned so far about shapes and rectangular backgrounds and grouping and created an actual good-looking thing!

wally

Then I wanted to put Geometric Wally in a box to make an art print:

wallyinbox

But he looked weird, just floating there in the middle of this empty plane, so I shifted him a little and got this, which I think looks much more interesting:

wallysidebox

And hey, what do you know? Turns out putting of things off-center creates visual tension and interest - there's even something called Arnheim's Structural Net which purports that the eye is naturally drawn to certain areas of the canvas, including right where Wally sits now. Another graphic design theory stumbled upon!

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: DAY SEVEN

This is crazy! I just straight-up DREW all this tile and all the crazy little flowers and ornate borders using shapes and shapes cut out of other shapes and the blob brush. I have no idea why anyone would need a design like this, but go me!

Also the tiles obviously don't line up perfectly - there's a fair bit of math and careful calculation in Illustrator if you want things to come out perfectly straight. Good thing I found this out before completely letting go of the detail-oriented Shinah-person I created in my law firm job. 

elaboratetile


TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: DAY FIVE

With this ugly heart tutorial, I'm getting the first glimpse of just how powerful Illustrator can be. And how frustrating it makes this program to a newbie. With great power comes great opportunities to f**k things up. I think I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out why a corner wouldn't miter correctly only to eventually find that I had duplicated a line on accident and it was messing things up. I guess this is the learning process, eh?

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: DAY FOUR

Still excited about learning, still going at a break-neck pace. I actually spring out of bed in the morning excited to do my next Adobe Illustrator CC One-on-One Fundamentals lesson on lynda.com (no paid endorsement here, just really love the tutorials so far). 

Today, I did this and felt really hopeful because it's so simple but looks so appealing! Just an orange number with a translucent blue overlay. 

numbertwo

TEACHING MYSELF GRAPHIC DESIGN: DAY ONE

Well, here I go embarking on this crazy journey to transform myself from a boring, boilerplate corporate lawyer to an awesome, arty graphic designer. And doing it as quickly as possible because girl's gotta eat. Thank goodness there are so many awesome resources online.

I started with these two articles, which each list a bunch of additional resources:

Karen X. Cheng's "How to Become a Designer Without Going to Design School" 

DesignTut's "Teach Yourself Graphic Design: A Self Study Course Outline"

So, I acquired Adobe Creative Suite and bought this book on drawing and a book explaining how pictures work. While those are in transit, I signed up for Lynda.com (they give you a free 10-day trial!) and dove into the "Illustrator CC One-on-One: Fundamentals with Deke McClelland" series of web tutorials.

Here's the first circle I drew in Illustrator. It's sad and wonky, like a half-assed Shel Silverstein character.

Also, it just took me 30 minutes to figure out how to get the sad circle I drew in Illustrator into this blog without it looking fuzzy and way in the corner. Still don't think I did it right, but this will DO for now.