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Video Training Review: Photoshop Studio: Lessons In Digital Painting with Bert Monroy

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Photoshop Studio: Lessons In Digital Painting is the companion DVD to Bert Monroy's book Photoshop Studio with Bert Monroy: Digital Painting. In this video, you get to meet with the author as he explains on a more personal level the techniques that are described in the book.

Photoshop Studio: Lessons In Digital Painting is a very interesting concept and one that I hope is continued with more authors. It is contained on a single DVD that runs just under two hours and can only be used on a computer based system. It is aimed at users new to digital painting and those who want to move into this medium. The author goes over the material in what are essentially 11 lessons.

Photoshop Studio: Lessons In Digital Painting with Bert MonroyLessons 1 & 2 provide a brief introduction that show you the Berkley home where the artist lives, and then you get a tour of his studio. In this tour you will get an insight into Monroy's influences, how he got started, why he refers to himself not as a photo-realist, but rather as a hyper-realist. Finally you will see the set up of his equipment and how it all interacts.

Lesson 3 — "How I work" — examines the management techniques that Bert Monroy uses to create a digital painting. First it starts with the inspiration. He explains where this comes from. Then he shows how he takes reference shots, does sketches, and takes notes. The latter of these is very important because the photographs do not always capture all of the detail that is really there so instead he has to refer to his notes. Next he shows how he also uses Adobe Illustrator for both illustrations, as well as to set up perspectives for his paintings. Finally he shows how he organizes everything on his computer system for reference and easy access. When you have this many files, you must have good organizational skills.

Lesson 4 — "Light & Shadows" — looks at how light and shadows interact. In this lesson you will see how you can use light to create a mood. To do this you have to study reality, and see the impact that one object has on another. You must not rely on imagination, rather you must see reality. Here he shows how to create models as well as how to insert new objects into an existing scene.

Lesson 5 — "Reflections" — now takes a look at how reflections work within your digital painting. Some are easy, like the reflections of a mirror, and others are harder, like the reflections on glass, or through glass. Here Monroy guides you on how to make reflections look real.

Lesson 6 — "Layers & Layer Styles" — describes how the instructor uses layers. For digital paintings as complex as his, he not only uses many files, but many layers in each file. Here he clearly shows you exactly what he does and how he does it. Next he goes into the use of Layer Styles and shows you exactly how they can be used to create effects like drops of water.

Lesson 7 — "Textures" — are important as they relate to how objects relate to each other. In this lesson you will look at how to create stone and complex wood reliefs. Then, for the stone you will learn how to create several effects like adding distress and giving it perspective, and for the wood you will see how to add burl and graininess and other effects.

Lesson 8 — "Smart Filters" — demonstrates why these are great for experimenting with since, like layer styles, all of the steps that you use are recorded within the layer. This way when you find something that you like, you can see the steps that were used to create it. You can even modify existing steps, all without harming a pixel of your image.

Lesson 9 — "Alpha Channels & Calculations" — will try to bring you up to speed on one of the most valuable techniques in Photoshop. Here Monroy describes the Alpha Channels as a mask that works as a reusable selection. They let you control what is selected. In this lesson you will see how to place gradient highlights and shadows using Alpha Channels and Calculations, and then you will see how lines on the headlight of the red truck (front cover image) was done using the same techniques.

Lesson 10 — "Patterns" — can be simple and complex. In this lesson you will see how to create a very complex pattern of beans. By starting off with one singular bean, you will see how to create a pattern that looks random.

Lesson 11 — "Brushes" — are the instructor's favorite topic since he is at heart a painter. Now you will learn how to create a brush as well as modify an existing brush. In this section you will learn to create a brush to paint a flock of birds flying.

He concludes with a summary some of the new technologies that have made this product so much more enjoyable to create art work and that you should treat this type of work as fun and enjoy yourself with it. Also on the DVD are several bonus PDF files that touch on brushes, channels, filters, layers, and pen tool patterns.

Photoshop Studio: Lessons In Digital Painting is incredibly well done and in a very personable manor. You are right there in his studio and he is showing you, one-on-one, exactly how to create these wonderful pieces that can be used to create these works of art. As an instructor, he has a very down-to-Earth style that makes the video hard to put down. If you want to learn how to do digital painting, if you have been to one of his classes, or own the companion book, and want to see these techniques come alive, then I very highly recommend this video.

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About T. Michael Testi

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