Help my teenage sister unlock the wonder of Photoshop
November 18, 2009 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting a copy of Photoshop CS3 for my younger sister, who's always shown a lot of interest in graphic design. She's turning 16, what beginner's resources can I point her to?

I read the answers to this question, posted several years back, but I'm hoping there may be some more up-to-date sites or books out there. Something targeted to a high school audience, with "funner" real-life examples is the dream.

I'll definitely be pointing her to the "You Suck at Photoshop" web series, even though that might not necessarily be the preferred tone for my baby sister. Photoshopping herself into pictures with Red Sox players is a bit more up her alley...
posted by acorn1515 to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

To go off in a completely different direction, maybe something like Photoshop is too much. I've similarly always had an interest in graphic design, and my parents recently surprised me with a Wacom tablet and a sketchbook program (SketchBook Pro from AutoDesk, but there are others). The Wacom was a God send - and the SketchBook program had the great advantage of not requiring 1301318831938138 lessons. It has support for layers and a lot of basic drawing tools and that's it. Starting there, getting used to the concepts, and then moving on to a more advanced design application might be a better approach.

Or it might not be a better approach at all.

You're obviously a much better judge of that than me. I'm just tossing ideas out there.
posted by kbanas at 1:27 PM on November 18, 2009

I started with Photoshop (four, mind you) when I was seventeen or so. It made a lot of sense to me, but I'd also had a pile of art classes and darkroom work by then, so I understood what most of the tools were supposed to do.

Seconding the idea of a Wacom, as that'd be a great toy. Perhaps the Worth1000 tutorials would be good for her?
posted by cmyk at 1:33 PM on November 18, 2009

I think a couple one-on-one lessons with someone familiar with Photoshop would be really helpful for a beginner. Perhaps one lesson right after she gets the software and another lesson a month later.

I use Photoshop, and much of what I do with it is using probably 30% of what the software is capable of. I think I could show someone the basics in 2 or 3 sessions.
posted by kdern at 1:36 PM on November 18, 2009

Wacom tablets typically ship with light versions of Photoshop and Corel Painter. I'd get her an Intuos 4 and see how it goes.
posted by Scoo at 1:50 PM on November 18, 2009

Adobe has some good "what does this tool do?" basic tutorials. Psdtuts has a mix of free and pay tutorials. Most tutorials you'll find are very hand-holding walkthroughs. I think a better ideas are more open ended assignments like "make a 3 eyed baby" or "make this picture look like Andy Warhol made it" or "make your yearbook photo look like lady gaga". Chances are, she'll be giving these kinds of "learning assignments" to herself. Moderate google skills will help her find techniques along the way.

While I do think photoshop is the right program to learn on (I started on PaintShopPro in high school) most graphic design does not = photoshop.

Illustrator, and vector graphics in general, is a very valuable skill and I wish I had started earlier than college. Also, I don't think I fully appreciated photoshop until I took college darkroom photography classes. (Ooooh so thats what dodge and burn are for!) For many starting out in graphic design, photoshop is a bit of a crutch even. At some point she'll need to follow the rule "If it's not a photo, it doesn't belong in photoshop". Maybe next birthday or christmas you could get her illustrator as a follow up.
posted by fontophilic at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2009

Also, I do love my wacom, and it came with photoshop elements, which I promptly gave away. I made it through many happy years of photoshopping and 2 or 3 years of a college graphic design program with only a good mouse. If she wants to do more than crop and color correct a few photos, elements is going to be weaksauce.
posted by fontophilic at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2009

By the way, CS4 is the most recent Photoshop edition.
posted by Bunglegirl at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2009

I think that, if she wants to 'shop herself into pictures, she is probably more interested in compositing techniques than pure drawing or art creation. Granted a Intuos tablet is a great tool for working with compositing elements but it isn't crucial.
posted by bz at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2009

If the *drawing* part is her deal, then the Wacom tablet would be wonderful. Most kids don't get access to those until a lot later; they are a godsend. (If she's putting stuff together in Photoshop, a tablet is going to be a lot less useful.)
posted by NoraReed at 4:18 PM on November 18, 2009

This is my ex-designer and design manager voice:

Seconding that a tablet plus a cheap/small/free drawing app is a better "gift" than just Photoshop. Also seconding that Illustrator (or any structured drawing program) is probably a more valuable skill-set to develop early.

But that tablet is the sexy gift part, right there.
posted by rokusan at 5:18 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

OMG I love this book. It is not version specific, and it is a few years old, but it does a beautiful job of demonstrating the various tools available in Photoshop, and why you'd choose one over another. The blend modes section is worth it by itself.
posted by Methylviolet at 6:04 PM on November 18, 2009

Also seconding that Illustrator (or any structured drawing program) is probably a more valuable skill-set to develop early.

posted by jgirl at 7:20 PM on November 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I've got one of the other sisters on the Wacom tablet for her, and will definitely coerce one of my Photoshopping friends into a lesson or two for her.
posted by acorn1515 at 9:38 AM on November 24, 2009

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