A Kind of Magic
As designers, we probably spend an awful lot of time trying to explain what is and isn’t possible in this or that given timeframe. It’s an occupational hazard – and a by-product of the speed and response times enabled by this brave new-ish digital age.
It can often be something really quite positive, with clients amazed at the speed and variety of things that are now possible with print or web based ‘magic’…
BUT there’s one huge wave of misconception that seems set to throw grit in the gears of the freelance and small studio design ecosystems… and it could trickle down, like a champagne flute fountain of sewage, on other aspects of projects that do actually require considerable time and effort to complete.
It was the myth of Photoshop
Possiby the one and only design program most people have heard of is Adobe ‘Photoshop’ – and it seems to provide a new and exciting verb for a semi-informed blagger to throw in to conversations.
How many times has ‘That’s been Photoshopped’ been used in the papers, on the TV, in the office cafeteria or down the pub as a catch-all way to describe some sort of image manipulation (good, or bad).
The problem is that there’s a misconception about Adobe’s loveable-but-bloated cash cow that has started to firmly take hold. It’s the belief that this ‘new’ technology means a capability to make instant one touch changes to any image in the time it takes someone to think of that change. Just like the misunderstanding of synthesizers in music in the 80’s, there is an expectation that it is easy, instant and limitless in how it can be used.
Fixing a hole
Popular beliefs about Photoshop certainly aren’t all positive spin. An awareness of the ‘badphotoshop’ school of image manipulation has raised its head in popular culture. Through a torrent of stupid and crass photo edits on magazine covers, to the over use of blur, airbrush and other features; the ‘magic’ view of Photoshop is now balanced with the idea that it just makes things look fake and rubbish.
Now you would think that the bad photoshop examples would make people a little more thoughtful when approaching the feedback and sign off for design projects… hmmmmm. (and once more… hmmmm)
You Just May Be the One (but can we have red hair, a blue jumper, be holding an umbrella, in front of the Eiffel Tower… and look the other way?)
Don’t you just love it as a designer when you find or take a nice image, pop in some lovely copy and make it all just so. It’s great, and life is good… But then, somewhere in the shadows (and highlights) the myth of photoshop starts to have its debilitating effect.
Someone, who has heard about the myth of Photoshop, thinks it would be great if it had a slight tweak. Great you think, and tweaks are what photoshop is there for… But the tweak is tilting a head, moving an arm or generally treating the scene as a 3D tailor’s dummy. No, no, no!
So to end my ramble (with some sort of point) this is just a plea to use photoshop in a way that won’t make things terrible and obviously ‘photoshopped’…
Do – improve, tweak and lightly edit photos
Do – cut out, mask and generally enjoy the limitless creativity
BUT DON’T – try and change/cobble together the limbs and body on a simple photo (that is supposed to look like a photo!) just because someone believes in the myth of photoshop. Don’t do it. Stop. (unless your boss shouts at you, obviously… do it then, but then go away and write a blog entry.)