Back in the day it was called airbrushing and indeed I once wielded this magical, mythical illustration tool myself, long before Digital roamed the earth.
Today Photoshop is the ‘daily driver’ for most of us with more than a passing interest in image editing and illustration, and rightly so, as Photoshop sports an amazing roster of tools which truly make ‘Ye Olde Airbrush’ appear barbaric by comparison. Strangely it is interesting to note that although Photoshop’s digital toolbox is very sophisticated the techniques of masking, painting and shading etc. are still remarkably similar to the days of airbrush and ink.
When I first saw what Photoshop could do I immediately realised that my beautifully made Iwata airbrush was now an antique. The flexibility and speed of working in Photoshop was a total culture-shock from the glacial pace (and the ensuing high costs) of airbrush work, with the icing on the cake arriving in the form of Wacom digital tablets and pens.
So here we are years later and the efficiency of Photoshop has driven retouching work from mainly a salvage operation well and truly into the realms of illustration.
Software advances have significantly accelerated the use of retouching, of course (Photoshop CS5 has just been released as I write this), but much of this type of work is still crafted manually and can be time-consuming as it often requires a high level of actual drafting skills. For professional retouching a Wacom tablet is also pretty much an essential requirement, as is developing some degree of skill in using it. The big deal here is that Photoshop now does so much of the grunt-work that I can spend much more time exploring the more creative possibilities when editing my images.
The photographs shown on this post were part of a website design for Mainstream Renewable Power, and are intended to convey that they are a ‘people company’, so at concept stage I suggested we create images of their own personnel, but with a creative approach that allowed us to feature them prominently as part of their website design and to reinforce the newly developed corporate ID.
Well in advance of the shoot I sourced some real-world props that I could retouch to transform them into elements of the brand, these props were specifically chosen with regard as to how I could illustrate them in post-production to suit our brief. So in this case the photos were shot specifically to be retouched.
I was pleased we were able to accomplish this featuring the real heroes of the company, Mainstream’s own personnel, as opposed to models, and Mainstream themselves were very happy with the results.
Roll-over the retouched images to see the original images we started with...