Photoshop is Hard
my first attempt at photoshop was nothing short of slightly ridiculous. i somehow convinced myself that design skills, or at the minimum understanding this technical tool, was necessary; in fact, i did not need nor use photoshop in my job at that current time. it was a bit of pet project since wire framing a new website and database platform i created was not cutting it–at least not for me. the web developers appreciated my effort in using Microsoft Publisher (ha!) to visually show the user flow, call-to-actions and copy for each section of the site. back in 2011/early 2012, i was unaware of the term UX but i knew wholeheartedly what product i was creating as well as its users. to become last reliant and take on a new skill, i enrolled in a photoshop class at a local community center. the class was super cheap, less than $200 if i recall and only lasted a few sessions.
what i failed to consider or perhaps ignored foolishly was the imbalance of working a full day, commuting and THEN starting class. the instructor was a young woman who had an affinity for design and had no trouble walking through the tool, naturally. she was not particularly dynamic and seemed like a new-ish instructor. the class itself was quite small, mostly working professionals of different ages and abilities. my eyes glazed over a few times in the initial class. i bit off more than i could chew. i knew of photoshop from afar but my goodness–the nuances, the interface, the lingo. photoshop was (and is) serious.
my enthusiasm withered along with my punctuality and willingness to do assigned work. flash forward four years to my current visual design class courtesy of general assembly. albeit annoying, i am not deterred by the intricacies and multiple ways to do one simple task. in fact, my freelance schedule not only allows for such a class but i can commit to office hours and spend time additional time doing homework assignments and research different design trends and resources. in my second (maybe last?) foray into photoshop i’ve come to appreciate visual and graphic designers even more. this revelation is coming from someone who worked at an advertising agency, where the majority of hires were designers.
photoshop is hard for a newbie like me for a few reasons.
i love words. though my high school offered graphic design courses, i never considered the possibility of learning design, photography, typography, etc. math certainly was not my strong suit. i have and continue to lean on my writing background but it’s 2015, and things are changin’. more and more, the workplace is requiring a skill set that includes knowledge or some sort of proficiency with tools like photoshop. my penchant for words will only be enhanced by the visuals that will accompany them. translating language into design is tricky, especially with the countless options to “transform”, “layer a mask”, “shadow” and “crop”, but it will be worth it.
there are shortcuts. watching a design wiz use photoshop is like magic. they manuever all the tools with all the power and geniusness that is afforded to said wizard because of their handle of the workarounds. it is almost like driving. i typically take the longer way because i can never quite trust or remember the shorter ways. that mentality is a farce when working with photoshop. shortcuts rule the day. i just hope i rule them before they rule me.
organize your files or die. at least two instructors have recommended, in both cases stressed, that the key to keeping your sanity is to stay organized. from labeling images to arranging folders, being a tad OCD is a good thing. i like being organized however, when working with different shortcuts, files and folders it is not an easy task to keep it happy and homely. in the words of tim gunn, “make it work”.
in conclusion, photoshop is hard…and i’m learning it anyway.