Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In Praise of Photoshop Filters

The paint tube was invented in 1841

Photoshop 1.0 was released in 1990

The other day I stumbled on to a dog art site that offered both digital and acrylic dog portraits. The thing that struck me as odd is that the site claimed to use "no Photoshop filters". I found this odd as both their acrylic and their digital work looked very filter oriented. Let me also say that the work was not half bad at all. The perplexing issue was why this artist felt the need to disavow any use of Photoshop filters. If the site's claim is true then this digital artist is missing out on some of Photoshop's strongest tools.

Here at Art Paw we use Photoshop filters in all of our works, even the most heavily painted piece is going to have some filter somewhere beneath the smudgy wacom paint layers. We do like to say that we do not rely on filters alone to achieve our results, and so we too may be guilty of down-playing the importance of filters. A digital artist that is good with filters and has learned the art of combining several filters, and adjusting their opacity to achieve spectacular results should not be ashamed of their knowledge, or feel that it is somehow inferior to traditional painting. I am blessed to have a number of traditional artist friends and associates that seem to respect my work, and digital art in general. I do realize though that there will always be "purists" that feel that Photoshop and digital art is in some way cheating. I would have to pause and ask a painter that considers themselves a purist if they are indeed mixing and grinding their pigments to create their own paints? I am sure that when commercial paints in little shiny metal tubes came onto the market place there were probably some old hold-outs that swore up and down that "true artists" will always mix their own pigments the old fashion way. I see the computer in much the same way as commercial "tubed" paint. It is a tool, just one more tool for an artist to explore.



Amen, Rebecca! WOO HOO! That was very well said! While my blog features only my fine-art stuff, my background is in graphic design. I was a GD for 7 years and now I teach Photoshop and Illustrator to my high school students. Filters are your friend, and they are an art in their own right! And you have mastered them!

For traditional painters, there is an ongoing debate about utilizing photographs in the painting process. Purists are against it. Well, I paint dogs and there is no way I could get one to sit for the 3+ hours it takes to paint them, so if that makes me some new-age non-traditionalist, so be it.

Despite my extensive Photoshop background, I am IN AWE of the work you do, and I couldn't do it. No way. Keep rockin', girl.

Rebecca said...

Wow, thanks so much for the comment Christine! I like how you point out that working from a reference photo at all can make you a "new-age non-traditionalist" in some eyes. Too funny. Yea, we all just need to keep pushing the boundaries on whatever media we approach. And push those boundaries not based on art history or what others are doing, but push them for ourselves, reaching outside out own personal comfort zones.

Kathy Weller said...

Right on, sistafriend

cowbelly said...

Man, I feel like you were sitting on my shoulder when I posted this new ranting post on my blog tonight:


In your comment Rebecca you wrote about "pushing boundaries not based on art history or what others are doing, but for ourselves, reaching outside our own comfort zones."

I feel this comment exemplifies my point #1 in my post- "be true to your heart when expressing yourself creatively". An artist or photographer can be true to themselves no matter what their media. Being unique and developing your own style is more important than following some outdated 'rules' on how to do it.

There are graphic designers that spend upwards of 18 hours one one art piece! They do this on a computer- does this make them less of an artist??

I think not!

If it looks fantastic- who cares how it was made?! Sheesh.... :-)

Mary Rose said...

WOW just wow! Its so great that I was just googling for a nice image of a tube paint when I come across your blog. I really love your artwork. :)

Rebecca said...

Hi Mary-
Thanks for the praise. The paint tube is an istockphoto.com image purchased for one dollar. A lot of folks like to google around for "free" images which is always cool for reference work however if you should actually ever have need to republish a photograph, then istockphoto.com is the best deal in town for commercial reuse. I use them all the time for blog images.

battery said...
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