Artists Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon, in an attempt to make their teachings more affordable, have added a new section to their website featuring downloadable tutorials. By offering these lessons online, Burdick and Lyon are now able to save students 50%, or more, over the price of DVDs. Downloading the viewing software and lessons is easy, but should buyers have any concerns, Burdick has also provided a detailed description of the process, including a troubleshooting section, should the random problem occur (eg. The power goes out halfway through a download...). The videos are compatible with both PCs and Macs (including iPads), and once downloaded, can be watched as many times as desired, but they cannot copied or burned to a disc; only the computer on which the download was originally made is authorized to view the lessons. To date, the pair have posted five tutorials to their website.
The most recent instructional video available for purchase is Burdick's Photoshop Lessons for Artists, a title which immediately caught my eye. Adobe Photoshop CS3 is probably the application I use most after my web browser and mail applications, but I haven't taken a course in the subject since 1992 when version 2.5 was introduced; considering the improvements made in the software since then, I figured I could use a refresher.
In the over-two-hour-long lesson, Burdick covers a variety of topics geared specifically to the artist trying to make the most of their photo reference. The information, though presented on a PC running Photoshop CS4, is applicable to recent Photoshop software releases, whether they are used on a Mac or a PC. Subjects in the video include:
- Transferring photos from the digital camera to the computer
- Organizing images
- Backing up files
- Levels (lightening and darkening)
- Shadows/Highlight adjuster
- History Palette
- History Brush
- Resizing images for the web
- Color Balance
- Clone Stamp
- Printing Photos
- Using the Actions feature
- Using Layers and Layer Masks to combine photos
- Overview of Photoshop tools
- Creating a Black and White image
- Fixing skewed perspective in a photo
- Correcting White Balance with the White Point Eye Dropper
- Stitching multiple photos together with Photomerge
- ... and more.
The lesson begins slowly, with the first ten to fifteen minutes devoted to very basic procedures, but after that, Burdick gets into more complicated issues like Curves and Levels. I would have liked the images of the computer monitor in this particular lesson to have been clearer - the monitor looks like it was filmed directly with the camera rather than through a screen capture program such as Screenflow (Mac only) - but the sound is excellent and there is absolutely no information lost because of the manner of filming. Burdick's transitions through the topics are smooth, and he delivers a lot of information during the video.
When I began watching the tutorial, which I was able to easily transfer from my laptop to my iPad, I was worried that I had purchased a lesson for which my Photoshop skills were already beyond the lessons contained, but to my enjoyment, I picked a lot of new information. For some aspects of the explanation, I had different methods for achieving the same end results as Burdick, but some of those, like using the Dodge and Burn Tool, were methods that are a bit antique, and are probably included for the people who moved to Photoshop after years of physically printing their own film. (Considering my last lesson in Photoshop was seventeen years ago, it's not surprising that I was using out-of-date techniques). Other features explained, like the Action Palette, I had never used before, and I was amazed to learn about this powerful and time-saving tool in Photoshop's arsenal.
Though I could have picked up a current Photoshop manual and taught myself the same information, I am, like most artists, someone who learns best through hands-on activity, or through watching visual demonstrations. In fact, I do have a pretty recent guide to the application, but haven't the time to explore the book fully; when I do open the book up, it is to search for specific directions to do an action which may or may not even be possible through Photoshop. Often, I miss information as I flip through the manual trying to reach the topic I think will help me. Burdick has made it easier for artists wishing to improve their Photoshop skills by isolating those tools best suited to a traditional painter's needs, and presenting their use in a clear-cut manner.
The demonstration, which runs for over 135 minutes, has a purchase price of only $20.00 USD. In comparison to the excellent, full-length videos Scott Burdick has done through Lilledahl Productions, which range in price from $75.00 to $195.00, these online tutorials, albeit shorter in duration, are much more accessible. I am likely to purchase and download another lesson in the near future, as I liked what I saw, and hope to help fund more of these such videos from Scott and Susan.