I really like Adobe Photoshop. As most folks know, it remains the flagship image-editing program on the market, even if less expensive products like Paint Shop Pro have managed to level the playing field on certain levels. But while I've played with Photoshop on and off for a number of years, I can't consider myself a digital artist by any stretch of the imagination; I know that I've only scratched the surface of what the program can do in terms of visual artistic presentation. That's why I enjoy books like O'Reilly's new Creating Photomontages with Photoshop.
The book is translated from French and features the work of a group of talented professional designers. There are several reasons to enjoy the book - well, if you're into preparing or creating digital imagery, that is. First of all, the book is graphically gorgeous, presenting lush, full-color images that document the creation of various designs. Second, it documents the entire process of creation, taking the reader behind the scenes of a variety of original creations, including a perfume ad, an illustration for a major newspaper, an image for a corporate presentation, and then a piece created purely for its artistic expression. Each of the different images is created by a different artist, and the artist outlines the creation process in step-by-step fashion, from inspiration through final result.
The biggest thing one draws from a book like this is how painstaking the process of creating a truly top-flight image really is; there's often a sense that since something is created on a computer, that it should either be "easy" or "quick." As Tai-Marc Le Thanh notes regarding the use of Photoshop's clone stamp tool, however, "the problem with the Clone Stamp is that people often use it too quickly." As each of these artists documents the often slow progress of their images, you see how important each step can be to the final result, and why it is important to take the time to "do it right." Patrick Colladre's concept art for a data processing company required images of exotic fish in interconnected bowls of different shapes (in order to illustrate the company's ability to develop different and unusual software applications to handle particular transactions). Stage two of the process was photographing the fish, which Colladre says "turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated," as "photographing fish is a very demanding speciality." Colladre ended up trying multiple ways of photographing the fish, ultimately having to arm himself "with patience" as he had to take lots of pictures to choose from later. These basic components are part of the foundational aspect of the ultimate product, and here again we see exactly how much work goes into the end result.