Thursday, March 25, 2010

In praise of mindless retouching

Sometimes I get involved in reading or retouching and I let the TV drone in the background, thinking that any minute I'm going to stop working, find something good to watch, and get my brain turned off (nothing dulls the brain like TV, right?) so I can get sleepy. But before I know it, whatever show I was not watching has turned into an infomercial. By the time Jane Seymour has extolled the virtues of "Natural Advantage" a dozen times, it's definitely time to stop, which is what I'm going to do the second I finish this post.

Since this is an odd post anyway, I might as well say that I was insane to think that I would cover masking AND compositing in one month. In fact, I think one more masking tutorial is all I will do before changing themes for April.

Some tutorials I do simply to share techniques that work for me. Others, I write in order to force myself to expand my own knowledge. The latter is the case with an "Alpha Mask" tutorial that I hope to write. I'm more of a layer mask guy, so this whole "alpha" thing is not something I normally do. I decided to read up on alpha masks and then got distracted (as I am wont to do). Actually, distracted is not quite right. Burnt out from technical details is probably more like it.

So I thought of poor Lucas, my 10-year-old son who has been home sick. Then I thought about how much he hates having his picture taken. Then I pulled out this photo I took of him at the Tate in London:
The photo has that hazy, yellow, bad indoor lighting thing going on. Its meant to be stronger, bolder. Before I knew it, I was retouching as a sort of therapeutic mindless activity.
Before you can say Jane Seymour 1,000 times I stopped and thought, I love Photoshop. Mindlessly retouching, trying things out just for fun (rather than for a client) is great therapy. Its like Photoshop as a form of meditation.

But then a bad synth soundtrack and an saccharine voice talking about a money back guarantee reminds you that its after 1. Before you know it, Joan Rivers is pitching some kind of paint that women can brush onto their scalps to hide their thinning hair.
Must. Get. Remote. Now.


Unknown said...

You made me laugh out loud! : )

Miranda said...

I really love this post. I'm also thinking ONCE AGAIN that I really need to put Elements on my laptop so that I can mindlessly retouch in front of the TV.