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My On-Line Photoshop Course

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Photoshop Eagle

Mastering Adobe Photoshop ...

This section tells the story of my enrolling on an on-line, Level 2, Mastering Adobe Photoshop course. It displays pictures of all my assignments, starting with the comparatively simple 'Melon Man' and ending with my 'Final Assignment', spoof movie poster. The pages in this section include details of all the assignments covering Photoshop selection, layers, painting, colours, filters, text, retouching and layermasks. Where appropriate, supporting pictures and photographs have also been provided for comparison purposes and in context, these can be every bit as interesting as the assignment pictures.

The picture on the left displays the Photoshop eagle, that is the picture of the eagle supplied with most versions of Adobe Photoshop. In this picture, the image of the eagle has been extracted from the original picture, rotated, resized, cropped and enhanced, and then placed in front of the the gradient background. For those of you that are not familiar with Photoshop, this could be described as a typical Photoshop type job and there is now no doubt in my mind that this type of job is achieved more easily with Photoshop than with any other bitmap image editor that I know about.

A Little About Me ...

My name is Gilbert Hadley and I live in Liverpool, England. I hold a Level 4 Certificate in Further Education Teaching plus certain other computer and Internet related qualifications. I also have nearly 25 years experience as a computing professional and I decided to add to my knowledge and learn a new skill by enrolling on an on-line, Level 2, Mastering Photoshop course at MANCAT (Manchester College of Arts and Technology). All the graphics on this site are the result of my labours on this course and this applies to both the actual course work, and to the non-course work (e.g. the site furniture or other graphics displayed on the site.).

Following a suggestion from my tutor, Jeannie Harris (shown here on the left after I enhanced her and converted her into a magic roll-over button), to make my work available online for others to see, I decided to create this Photoshop section. Jeannie's suggestion was in line with my own inclination to create some sort of permanent portfolio of my work. This Photoshop section became the forerunner to the reincarnated Web-Wise-Wizard site and it has to be the fastest website creation ever. I first turned my attention to it on a Saturday morning at 8:00am (25-Jun-2005) with the intention of planning, creating and publishing an eight page site by the Sunday evening. There was a lot of work involved and I did not even have a Web Hosting provider in mind at that stage but I did meet my target with some meaningful content displayed on each of the eight pages. The Photoshop section can now be considered as complete although new material is likely to be added from time to time.

Weekly Assignments ...

I enjoy distance and on-line learning and the undoubted highlight of this Mastering Photoshop course were the QuickTime movies. I found them both entertaining and informative and together with the other course material, they taught me everything I needed to know to complete the assignments.

  • Week 1 - Selections  Learning how to select different parts of an image is one of the fundamental skills required to use Photoshop and this assignment familiarizes you with the different methods. You will learn to make decisions about which type of selection should be used, based on the characteristics of the area to be selected.
  • Week 2 - Layers  This assignment teaches you that layers are essential and fundamental feature of Photoshop that you must make sure you fully understand before attempting to do any serious image manipulation. Think of Photoshop's layers as transparent overlays used to create, edit and organize graphic elements in your image.
  • Week 3 - Painting  This assignment teaches you that Photoshop's paint tools can be used for stand alone painting, much like real life tools, or for enhancing existing images. Learn to fill with paint bucket, patterns and and graded draws, areas of a 'dragon sketch' supplied with the coursework.
  • Week 4 - Colours  This assignment teaches you how to improve or modify the appearance of your image using Photoshop's color and tonal correction tools. In the context of Photoshop, color refers to hues, or what we normally think of as colour, blue, yellow, purple etc. Tonal correction tools are used to increase or decrease the range of color values - dullness, brightness, intensity, luminosity, shadows and highlights.
  • Week 5 - Filters  This assignment introduces you to the extensive collection of Photoshop filters that can add interesting effects to your image. There are more than fourteen groups of image filters available in Photoshop and these filters can be applied to an entire image, to a selected area within an image or to an individual layer.
  • Week 6 - Text  This assignment teaches you how to create text directly within Photoshop. You can add horizontal or vertical text and have control over style, size, leading, kerning, tracking and alignment and has a variety of built-in effects such as drop shadow and embossing. Text is enhanced by the use of anti-aliasing to create an illusion of sharpness.
  • Week 7 - Retouching  This assignment starts by introducing you to the principles of image scanning and resampling. It then moves on to demonstrate how to retouch and re-colour images. The restoration of old photographs is a particularly interesting area because digital retouching has largely taken over from the traditional restoration methods.
  • Week 8 - Layer Masks  This assignment teaches you about Photoshop layer masks. This very powerful feature of Photoshop allows great control over how images blend together in the same file. Learn to use layer masks when you want to create a montage where the edges blend gradually into each other.
  • Week 9 - Final Assignment  (2 weeks) This assignment asks you to demonstrate the various Photoshop techniques you have learnt in the previous assignments by requiring you to create a 'spoof movie poster' in which you the student, must be one of the stars in the film.
August 2014: Regrettably, MANCAT (The Manchester College of Arts & Technology) no longer exists and I cannot find any equivalent, Level 2 accredited, online Photoshop courses. In 2014 MANCAT merged with City College Manchester to create the all new Manchester College of IT but Manchester College does not appear to be offering this type of online course. If anyone knows of any similar online Photoshop courses in the UK then please let me know and I will be happy to check them out. Indeed, I personally would be interested to learn about any Level 3 accredited, online Photoshop courses.

Prepress Meets The Web ...

The assignments on the Photoshop course could be described as prepress work, which means that the graphics have being created in preparation for the paper printing process. This means that some of the Photoshop files are huge in comparison to the requirements of a web page and an extreme example is one of my Photoshop files for an assignment that weighed in at a massive 26MB in Photoshop PSD format. I would normally expect to create graphics for the web with a maximum size, after optimization, of 15KB or less.

This means that if you want to display these large pictures on a web page then compromises have to be made. Firstly, you have to reduce the dots per inch from 1,200 dpi (typical typesetter) or 300 dpi (typical laser printer) down to 72 dpi (computer monitor). Next, you have to reduce the physical dimensions of the picture to an approximate maximum size of 640 x 480 (or visa versa) so that the picture can be comfortably viewed on a 1024 x 768 (or 800 x 600 at a pinch) resolution computer monitor. Next, you have to convert the file format to JPEG so that the picture can be displayed in a web browser and finally, you have to reduce the file size yet again by optimizing the JPEG file.

This means that in practice, the assignment pictures that are displayed on this site range in size from 12KB up to 48KB. In turn, this means that their download times should be acceptable for a broadband connection, reasonably acceptable for a fast 56K dialup connection but a little slow for a slower dialup connection. To help combat any slowness in download speeds (or a perception of slowness) I have designed a special system that loads and displays the pictures in a manner that I feel is more acceptable with slow loading connections. It is designed to leave the user in control at all times and I would welcome any user feedback on this subject after you have viewed the pictures in the section.

+++ Wisdom Indeed +++
If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.
  Benjamin Franklin

Word Meanings ...

To help clarify the meanings of the terms photograph, image, picture and montage I have adhered to the following conventions in all textual descriptions. If you use the following links to view the examples then please use your browser's Back Button to return to this section.

  1. Photograph:  A photograph (or photo) is a complete image that has been taken using a camera. The photograph may have been retouched or adjusted but it has not been significantly altered. An example is the original photograph of the Indian Army Officer, John Santos, located on the Retouching page.
  2. Image:  In specific terms an image refers to a part of a photograph or picture that has been 'cut out' from the original. An example of an image is that of Jeannie Harris displayed above as a magic roll-over button.
  3. Picture:  A picture can refer to any graphic that is non-photographic -OR- to a photograph like image that is made up of different components taken from more than one source. In other words a picture may look like a photograph but was not taken by a camera as a single shot. An example of the first definition is the 'Melon Man' displayed on the Early Work page and an example of the second definition is the 'Jungle Tiger' picture displayed on the Jungle Tiger page.
  4. Montage:  A montage is a display of more than one photograph, image or picture displayed independently on the same backdrop. It may or may not include added textual descriptions. An example of a montage is the 'Cobra Replica Cars' montage, located on the Cobra Replica page.

Link Directly To This Page ...

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Web-Wise-Wizard - My Online Photoshop Course This is the story of my enrolling on an on-line, Adobe Photoshop course. You can view my assignments, starting with the simple 'Melon Man' and ending with my 'Final Assignment', spoof movie poster.

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