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Book Review: Beyond Digital Photography: Transforming Photos Into Fine Art With Photoshop And Painter By Cher Threinen-Pendarvis And Donal Jolley

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As photography changed the world of art, now art is changing photography as the two meet in the digital age. With digital cameras, advances in color printing, and new software tools that allow you to not only capture digital images, but to use those images to create digital paintings. The rules of both branches of art work have changed dramatically.

Where these two disciplines will end up is not for sure, but one thing is certain, growth in this direction will continue to evolve. Beyond Digital Photography brings these two technologies together into an instructive book that uses basic drawing and painting skills and applies them to digital photographs. Beyond Digital Photography is 256 pages and eight chapters.

Chapter One, "Getting Started," will show you what you need get started in digital photographic painting by first looking at some of the hardware and software you will need to set up your studio. You will look at the interfaces for both Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. You will also look at are some of the important concepts like pixels and resolution, as well as tips for working with a Wacom tablet.

Chapter Two, "Painterly Techniques for Non-Painters," is written for photographers who are not comfortable with painting by hand as well as for those who want to explore a filter recipe approach to painting. You will learn how to create a Pop Art look, use filters to create an Impressionistic watercolor, use Auto-Painting, simplify a Photograph for a more hand rendered result, and create a graphic wood cut look.

Chapter Three, "Emphasizing the Subject," now looks at taking a photo and improving the composition design by focusing more attention on your subject. The first technique is to subdue the background to center focus on the subject and the second is to simplify the detail and sharpen the subject.

Chapter Four, "Adding Texture to Photographs," gives your images more feel. In this chapter, you will look at how to work with the Art History Brush in combination with brush presets to create a textured painted look. Then you create a dry media texture look with pastels using a custom cloning brush. Finally, you work with black and white to give the appearance of a charcoal rendering using Blenders and Charcoal brushes.

Chapter Five, "Emulating the Look of Watercolor," will show you how to simulate the look of conventional watercolors. You first look at a soft diffused painting using digital watercolor techniques and blenders. Then you will see how to create a portrait using Photoshop's Pattern Stamp, Pattern features, brush presets and finishing up by adding a scan of watercolor paper that is blended with the watercolor brushwork.

Chapter Six, "Achieving Acrylic and Oil-Painted Looks," explains how to take photographs and applying a painterly effect. Here you will work with Real Bristle Brushes to create a dramatic seascape, work with Artists' Oil brushes to paint a portrait using Chiaroscuro lighting for dramatic effect, use Wet Media brushstrokes and more grain and digital noise to create an oil painting, and use the artists' oils to create an old master style of painting.

Chapter Seven, "Creating Abstract Art from Photographs," now looks at taking a photo and creating a more abstract style of image. The first style is through the use of bright colors and loose strokes to create a more stylized look. The second is through using dynamic movement and emotion to bring out an expressive image.

Chapter Eight, "Composition and Collaging," will show you how to create images from more than one image. Here the first is through the use of many layers using layer masks, clipping groups, and color construction, and then finishing by adding additional elements using paint. The second is to combine two images with a scan of pastel paper and using a pallet mix of chalk and pastel with blender brushes to paint textured strokes.

While users of either of these programs will learn techniques for painting, Beyond Digital Photography will work best for the user who has some experience in both Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. You don't have to have the latest version of these products as most of the techniques used here should work fine with any of the recent versions of each of the software packages.

In Beyond Digital Photography, the lessons are well laid out and make it easy for you to follow. It comes with a "How to Use This Book" segment that walks you through how to get the most from the book. The book is highlighted with side-bar's that help you through potential problem areas.

All-in-all Beyond Digital Photography is a very easy read as well as being written. Even those who can't paint can benefit from this book, thanks to some of the chapters’ focus on filters and/or automatic conversion. If you want to create digital art from your digital photos, then you should look at Beyond Digital Photography for your next purchase. I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.