Friday, July 30, 2010

William Low - Publishing Pixels: Picture Book Illustration in the Digital Age

William Low is the illustrator and writer of some gorgeous picture books, including Machines Go To Work, Old Penn Station, and Chinatown, just to name a few. He has been teaching painting and illustration for over 20 years. Low's illustrations are beautifully painted, and considering the painterly style, it's pretty surprising that he works completely digitally. He switched to digital 15 years ago. Today, in session 1 of his 4-part SCBWI workshop, he'll be giving an intro to Photoshop painting.

Right off the bat, we have a document to refer to with a list of some highly useful shortc
uts, as well as an overview of the layers palette. I took Low's session a while back at a New York winter conference, and I found the info on the document so helpful that I took the document to work with me and referred to it for some time, until I had almost all of the shortcuts memorized. He also hands out some files on flash drives for us to use during the session.

Low starts off by quickly taking us through his process using a sample from his book, Willy & Max. The start of his process invo
lves photo references and models, which he paints over in Photoshop. Amazing to see a piece take shape from beginning to end!

We review some basic shortcuts. Low notes that it's not necessarily important to memorize every single shortcut, but rather the ones that you use the most.

Using some shortcuts and one of the files he handed out to the class, we learn how to create a really beautiful and painterly gradient. This looks so much more natural than simply filling a space with a Photoshop gradient. We also take a look at a file and discuss the importance of using layers efficiently, as well as some new functions in CS4 and 5.

This has been a great refresher course in basic Photoshop functions, and a reminder that it really is possible to create painterly images in Photosho
p. I'd definitely suggest this intro session to Photoshop beginners and anyone who wants to bring a more natural, painted style into their Photoshop work. Can't wait to see what else Low will cover in the other sessions!

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