PhotoShop The New Canvas

FTLComm -Kamloops
February 12, 2002
Images by:
Michael Townsend

We have been using computer technology in graphics since the early 1980s but it has not been until the last five years that the standard means for doing graphics work has shifted from the paints, canvas and drawing board to the digital world of the computer.

The revolution began subtly with the release to the market place of a simple piece of software for the old Apple //e in 1983. The product was called Dazzle Draw by Broderbund and used many of the simple concepts worked out by computer programmer Bill Atkinson and incorporated into his "Mouse Paint" and "Mouse Draw" programs first seen on the Apple Lisa. The difference with Dazzle Draw was that it was a product that was snapped up by the public, adults were a bit confused by it but kids loved it and a simple card and poster making application called "Print Shop" also by Broderbund.

Although the successful early graphic programs were for the 6502 chipped Apple computers and the 68,000 Motorola chipped Amiga and Macintosh machines, there were similar painting and drawing programs for all computers.

One company recognised that this was not kid's stuff and created a killer application. Adobe produced "PhotoShop". There were other high level graphics programs like Denabe's Canvas, Color It, Corel Draw and others but the one that graphic artists grabbed onto was Adobe PhotoShop.

For two years I struggled along using Color It then it was pointed out to me that I would never get beyond where I was until I started to master PhotoShop that was 1996 and ever since, every day I spend most of my time in this applications. Doctoring and retouching old images, cleaning up photographs I have taken and creating graphics for the top of Ensign and Saskatchewan News articles.

Every picture you see in every magazine, every catalogue every poster is almost certainly created using PhotoShop. It is the standard.

Michael Townsend teaches eager high school students in Kamloops (these images on this page were created on a Windows based computer using PhotoShop) the concepts of using the computer for publishing and communications and among the skills he has master is the use of PhotoShop. The power of this application is that it is completely transparent from computer platform to computer platform. It is the same application on a Macintosh or a Windows based computer and once a person begins to understand the tools, the use of layers and transparency then the only graphical limitation you have is your own creativity.

Surprisingly all of us have creativity and tools like PhotoShop let that genius within get out and create for us.

The application is close to $800 and almost everyone will tell you that for the amount you will use it and the power it has it is a good value. But for most people the main and most often used tools for touching up and modifying pictures are in the consumer version of the application "PhotoShop Elements" which retails for about $149. If you have a digital camera or a scanner then plan to get a copy of this application and make some pictures.

The program is not easy to learn or use, it takes time and lots of mistakes but the reward of accomplishment is well worth the effort.

Each day I sit down here to my machine and relish the challenge of an article from a writer and then set to work creating a graphic that will make the story more understandable and more meaningful. Sometimes I get what I am after and sometimes I end up with a mess, but in all cases it is a blast for me. Most of the graphics you see on these pages each day are each created in less than twenty minutes, although that barrel yesterday had to be done twice and it alone took twenty minutes.

If you would like to know more about PhotoShop
drop me a line.

Timothy W. Shire