on March 9, 2010
Okay, so here's the deal: I have absolutely no artistic talent. Seriously, none. I can't even put a stick figure on paper with straight lines. However, all that might change. This new book, "Digital Art Revolution," has inspired me to start dabbling in the fascinating field of digital art.
What is digital art? From what I can gather, the author views it as another tool to artistic expressiveness, like a paint brush or a canvas. Digital art is not just about making web designs (although it certainly is that, to some extent.) Rather, digital art is anything you want it to be. It is a medium that is only limited by what you can imagine.
This book gets you on the path to thinking, acting and being a digital artist, a place where a simple scanned picture can turn into an artistic masterpiece. Like any new art medium, critics will probably call digital art low-brow, mindless nonsense. This book frees us from such snobbery and invites us to embark on an artistic journey that is only limited by our imagination.
If you have ever seen any of the author's digital art pieces, you'd quickly see the potential for digital art as a legitimate medium for the finest of fine arts. Digital art allows for a wonderful form of expressiveness that traditional mediums simply cannot touch. For instance, with digital art, you can take an ordinary photograph of a celebrity and turn it into a wild fantasy world with digitally-added nude fairies and a blazing inferno background. Or you can take a picture of fruit and flowers and digitally alter it to create a seascape that serves as a microcosm for the Universe. Or you can turn a photo of an old shoe into a branded logo for your firm. Or whatever you want.
This groundbreaking book is both practical and enjoyable to read, a real mix of engagement and how-to. I don't know of any book like it on the market, as it appeals to newbies like myself and experienced digital artists who are seeking new creative avenues to express themselves. And who knows: it might even make an artist out of me some day!
This is an excellent primer on creating digital fine art, but it has some shortcomings. On a purely personal level, I found the author's preening irritating. By the same token, he is describing, in many instances, his own artwork or his own teaching style. Minor issue and while it was irritating enough to warrant mention, it does not detract from the usefulness of the book.
What does detract is the superficiality of the instruction. Apparently Ligon intends or hopes his book will be used as school text. By my count, Ligon attempts to discuss 71 separate topics, most involving the use of Photoshop, in 247 pages, about two-thirds or so of which are primarily text. That's not a lot of space and it does not permit extensive discussion of any single topic. As a result, an 11 page section ostensibly on masking very briefly covers only a few masking techniques and tries to include five other subjects as well, including sharpening. Very large books have been devoted to the subject of sharpening. In short, Ligon is providing a whirlwind tour of Photoshop. This may work for a paint-by-numbers environment, but for the student who is engaged in solo learning, it may be troublesome.
Another critical skill given short shrift is the pen tool. Ligon devotes a bit more than two text shy pages to this topic. The pen tool is essential any serious Photoshop user and is notoriously difficult to master for many, perhaps most, Photoshop users. It is crucial to compositing and nearly all of Ligon's examples involve selection and compositing to one extent or another.
Finally, Ligon shows dozens of samples of digital art without a word of guidance as to how they were created. Readers, I think, would be better served had Ligon focused on providing more detailed "how-to" instructions.
In the end though, this is a pretty good introduction to creating digital art with Photoshop. At the moment, the subject is still a pretty narrow field and this is a solid entry. I would also suggest Susan Tuttle's "Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements". Same basic topic, but a very different authorial style.
on March 29, 2011
For me, this book is more a forum for showcasing the works from a selected group of digital artists than a book on creating fine art. Although there are numerous tutorials on using the tools and techniques in Photoshop, not one would I consider being anything close to producing fine art. The tutorials are, rather, basic explanations of how to use certain Photoshop processes using mundane images to complete a similarly mundane finished product. If making fine art was the intention of the author, why didn't this book come with a DVD to help explain the processes and provide more interesting images and projects to work through? I also found many of the explanations for completing a process lacking in a clear step by step procedure. It was as if they would skip a step thinking that you would intuitively understand what to do next. If you are working along with your own images, this causes a lot of frustration. In summary, although many of the artist's works are nice have as references, nothing you create from the book will look anything even close to those. And, you will have really struggled to just make those boring images.
on March 17, 2010
I originally got this book with the sole intention of picking up some new tricks using Adobe Photoshop. After reading the book, I not only learned a lot of useful Photoshop techniques, but because of the author's great ability to educate and instruct, was also introduced into appreciating art. The author was able to educate me on some basic art concepts and instruction. Beauase of this, it now takes my photographs to a new level. I now view a lot of my Photoshop enhanced photographs as a very creative form of art. I also have a new level of respect for other "Photoshopped" pieces as artwork. This book is a great work of instruction in Photoshop techniques as well as introducing an appreciation of art in the "digital revolution". Great book!
on August 10, 2010
Digital Art Revolution is a Photoshop book written for traditional media artists who want to begin using Photoshop. Unlike most of the three bazillion Photoshop books out there, it's not written for photographers. Actually, it's kind of hard to describe just how different this book is. It's not industry specific (gaming, commercial illustration, film, etc.); rather, it's audience is pretty much anyone who wants to create images. Starting with basic design principles, the book delivers a thorough introduction to Photoshop. Absolute beginners may find the book moves a bit too fast, but I'm not sure. It's hard for me to evaluate that, since I know Photoshop quite well. On the other hand, the writing is clear and concise, the illustrations and screen shots are helpful and large enough to see, and it just may be the best introduction to Photoshop ever written. It's a big book (250 pages, 11×8.5'), but it's still amazing how much information it manages to cover.
First-time author Scott Ligon is a frequent lecturer, digital artist, and director. He is the coordinator for the digital foundation curriculum at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he teaches art. The author's fine art background and orientation lend a fresh and exciting flavor to the book. The work of 44 artists is showcased throughout, but the examples here are not the usual commercial digital fare flooding the internet. This isn't another Photoshop eye candy book filled with speed paintings, vampires, and gun-toting, barely-clothed buxom babes. And that's a good thing. If you spend much time (as I do) browsing the work on Deviant Art and such sites, you start to see how much artists are mimicking each other. Ligon encourages us to bring forth our own unique vision, rather than trying to copy what's popular or trendy. According to Ligon, this is the beginning of the Golden Age of Digital Art, and everything is possible. "Take advantage of this time when anything can happen," he says. "There are vast areas of possibility that have never been explored. It might as well be you who explores some of them."
This is an excellent book, especially for those just beginning their digital art journey. For all artists, there's plenty of food for thought here, about process, method, and technique, especially when working digitally. If you want to stop copying the ideas of others, but don't know how to start creating your own work, this book is a wonderful guide. Don't miss it.
on March 12, 2010
This book is a great resource for digital artists who want to take their work up another notch. Scott walks you through the basics of how to improve your skills with Photoshop, how to think outside the box and gives you great ideas to work with. Very well done and well thought out instructions to help you create digital masterpieces! Paint on (digitally!).
on March 23, 2010
This is absolutely NOT like any other Photoshop book! It's got a lot of technique in it, but also a very unique and useful "world view" bunch writing on how to hone yourself as an artist. Whereas most books are simply on the mechanics of the software, this covers that, but also covers using the software as a tool to actually create.
on March 21, 2013
If I could ever pull enough students together in this isolated area to offer an Int/Adv Photoshop class, this might be the book I'd go with. Very creative and beautiful work. There are many approaches on Photoshop use and unfortunately, many end badly. Here's a smart way to go about making fine art. They got the title right. This is worthwhile. I'm still digesting, lots to read here, beautiful imagery. This is inspiring and that's what I was looking for. If you like Maggie Taylor's work, this is along those same lines, very cool stuff.
on August 11, 2010
I'm finding that the Author has a tremendous capacity for addressing the needs for beginners
through people with an existing understanding of Photoshop.
As a beginner, I have scoured the bookshelves looking for a "how-to" book that understands
my lack of experience and creates step-by-step methods of getting me acquainted with the
Most of the books that I've seen seem to take for granted that you will immediately understand
the technical jargon which loses me right off the bat.
It's about time a book like this came out to help the beginner! I am both enjoying the style
in which it was written as well as my "Eureka" moments gained from successful excercises.
on August 10, 2010
I'd like to focus my comments on what Scott Ligon identifies as one of the goals of the book: "This is a book that familiarizes readers with the fundamentals with the fundamentals of the visual language and then shows them how to apply these principles to digital art." (p.21) There are, of course, many 'how to' books, but combining that with 'why to' (as JD Jarvis and I did in Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists, 2005) is a rare enterprise. And, of course, there are many paths to take to engage readers, whether artist, art critic, art collector, curator, student or those with a general interest in the subject. This is an excellent book to restart the conversation; there is far too much art illiteracy, even among those who pretend to be the keepers of crown jewels in museums and galleries. Art in digital media is a very democratic adventure; the challenge is to create 'good,' 'beautiful' and 'strong' art. Ligon provides excellent examples of the variety of technical toolsets that can be used to create the art image as well as fascinating and compelling examples of 'good' art.
The reader comes away with a sense, encouraged by Ligon, that the dynamism of contemporary art continues to grow -- not supplanting crayon, pencil, oils, cut outs or whatever -- but adding a new platform for making art and indeed in a revolutionary way. One could say, by way of analogy, that a horse and buggy can take one from San Diego to New York; but taking a car, a train or an airplane are equally available. Are these newer modes of transportation revolutionary? One could argue that these are just faster and carry heavier loads, but what is a revolution anyway?