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Second go ’round.

This is a work in progress.  Bailey is my parents’ dog, and the painting will be a late birthday present for my Mom.  This painting served as my rehearsal for the early stages of another DVD for PhotoshopCAFE, because in it, I’m painting another little dog.  At this stage, the rehearsal is over, because every painting is different and digital painting is not a step-by-step exercise.

Recorded a couple of sessions this morning, and I’m amazed at how easy it is this time around.   There are a few simple (and probably very obvious) reasons for this.

This is my second DVD.  I found the first one, Cartoon Illustration Techniques in Photoshop, to be incredibly stressful.  I’d never done a DVD before, I was learning the hardware, software, and was obsessed with making sure I included everything I possibly could for the beginner as well as keeping the experienced user interested.  That’s actually tougher than it sounds, because as in all things, once you’ve learned a skill, you often forget how to break it down to simple steps because it has become instinctual.

I took guitar lessons a couple of years ago.  My instructor is a very talented musician and excellent teacher, but every once in awhile after he showed me a particularly difficult finger picking song, he would go to break it down into a sequence and he’d have to take a few minutes to remember how he did it.  The playing of that song was so instinctual and set into sense memory that to break it down into individual chords and finger movements was tough for him to do.

That’s what it was like teaching all of steps I go through every single day when drawing editorial cartoons.  And while I’ve heard from a number of people that bought, enjoyed and learned a lot from that DVD, I’m glad I did that one first and saved the current one for second, because frankly, this one is a hell of a lot more fun.

This DVD is not for new-to-Photoshop beginners.  Anybody who wants to learn digital painting should already have a working knowledge of the software, at least for the techniques I’ll be teaching.  I don’t have to say, ‘this is how you open a document,’ or ‘this is how you create a layer.’  With the cartooning DVD, if I missed a step that I take for granted, it could really confuse someone who has never used Photoshop before.

With painting, there aren’t many ‘step by step’ lessons possible, because every painting is different and if I tried to do the same painting twice, the end result wouldn’t look the same.  With this DVD, I’m only doing one take for every session, and oddly enough, I’m fine with it.  The painting itself will take 15-20 hours.  I’m not going to redo two or three hours unless it’s absolutely required.

So this time around, I’m winging it, creating a painting from scratch, from the first brush stroke to the last.  Most of the stuff I’m talking about is whatever pops into my head based on what I’m seeing and thinking about the image in real time.  Listening to the playback of the sessions I recorded this morning, yes, I did notice a few uh’s and um’s.  Thankfully, not many as I do try to speak well on a daily basis, but nobody’s perfect.  With the last DVD, I would re-record the whole session to minimize that.  This time around, I’m leaving them in.  Because what’s also in there, which can’t be scripted, is animation in my voice, the excitement that I feel when I paint.  I love that!  Having that in there is worth a few um’s and uh’s, because I know that multiple takes would make that go away.

Recording the last DVD took a long time, kept me up nights, and was one of the most stressful things I’ve gone through in the past year.  This time around, I decided that I’m going having a good time with it.

So if you do decide to part with your hard-earned money and take a chance on hearing what I have to say and teach about digital painting, I hope it’ll be evident to you just how much I love this work, and that as a consequence, you’ll forgive a few uh’s and um’s.

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