As students we rely on many programs that are supposed to help us conquer our everyday challenges as students, yet often times learning and mastering them is a challenge in itself. Yet with every failed attempt we learn, hopefully to create more and more interesting assets, artworks, designs. No other software taught me more about design, about creating and about learning itself than Adobe’s Photoshop.
Ode to Photoshop
It’s been ten years now since we ventured out on our journey together. Can you believe it? Ten years and none the wiser one might think, but you have taught me so, so, so many things. About design, about drawing, photography and life.
A decade. In game development years that is almost a lifetime (remember how game dev years are dog years?). The first version of you I encountered was 7.0 and looking back… I knew nothing. And even now I barely feel like I scratched the surface of the marvels you had to offer me.
But what have you done?
Photoshop in ads, you’ve gotten a lot of bad press. And why? People accused you of creating false body images for young girls. But Photoshop, was that really you? By now shouting out your name across the web has almost become a taunt. “That’s photoshopped!” As though it were an insult. But have you? Have you enabled greedy advertisement people? Looking at the advertisement landscape 50 years ago certainly makes a very good point against that. Misleading Ad campaigns existed long before you were conceived.
I wonder if, 23 years back your creator imagined you would become this popular. That you would be synonymous with not just photo manipulation, but manipulation in general? I honestly doubt it.
And all the things that were created through you. Worlds, characters, creatures, the list goes on and on and on. People have used you to create the most marvellous and inspiring pieces of art we’ve seen in generations.
How do you feel about that? Do you feel used? Are you but a tool? A catalyst for the creative spirit that designers, artists, users pour into you?
Or are you more?
To me you certainly are. As I said before, you taught me about Design. What do I mean?
Shape, color, composition… all these things I had heard of while I was half asleep during art classes, waiting for the teacher to stop lecturing so we could get to the good part. Drawing, painting, sculpting. How puny it feels to look back upon those days when we used our bare hands, when sweaty palms ruined drawings that we’d worked on with such a frenzy and without being able to bring it back… Oh Photoshop. How you’ve changed us. We still draw by hand. But now we use tablets, some even daring enough to draw by mouse, can you believe it?
What you taught me about color cannot even be put into words. After all, no matter how far you reach for the words, color is something you cannot convey through letters on a blank page. Much less a virtual one. Yet you taught me.
Our years together, let us be perfectly honest here. They haven’t been all sunshine and cookies and unicorns. There have been misunderstandings. Yet every time I cursed you, every time I hit that ugly red X to get you out of my sight, you endured it. You never treated me badly for the mistakes I made. For the times I yelled at you and called you names and you took it with such grace, such grandeur only to teach me time and again that it was indeed my own shortcomings, my lack of understanding of your inner workings, or my lack of ability that caused me to fail. Without raising a finger or talking down to me you made me a better visualist. Whatever that may be.
Layers were another thing you taught me and boy did you teach me. Isn’t life just so much better if you think about things in layers? If you order and divide items, lines, colors, people… No wait. Scratch that.
Dear Photoshop, sometimes I feel like I know nothing at all. With every new feature I learn and every new thing I discover, uncover, recover I feel like a child with a crayon drawing horses.
But Photoshop, where will you stop? You allow me to feel and live the limitations of my own imagination. You humble me and remind me that I am just getting started.
P.S. I just started using SAI Easy Paint Tool. I hope you understand.
Ulrika Tegtmeier is a VFS Game Design student, just completing her final project The Banishing