Digital Collage and Painting: Using Photoshop and Painter to Create Fine Art / Edition 2

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The world of digital art has exploded in recent years, with amateur and professional artists alike taking the notion of "fine art" to creative levels never before imagined. In this practical yet wholly inspiring, beautiful book, Susan Ruddick Bloom highlights her own work as well as that of her masterful contemporaries to show just what can be possible when artists take their work a few steps further. Focusing on collage, painting, panoramic, and sketching as well as several other artistic methods, this book's uniqueness comes from a thorough discussion of using both Photoshop and Painter to create stunning digital effects. Advanced artists will be able to dive right in, while less experienced artists can get a refresher on each program's basics in the "Essential Painter and Photoshop Techniques" chapter. Suggested projects as well as downloadable practice images from the book provide the reader with all of the knowledge necessary to emulate the work of some of the industry's best.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Collage and painting offer endless, glorious possibilities for the digital artist. In this book, Susan Ruddick Bloom will help you find your inspiration and make it real using today's remarkable tools, Photoshop and Painter.

Bloom combines an extraordinary traditional artist's background with 20 years' digital experience (dating back to the first 128K B&W Macs). In this book, she hosts 21 of today's most remarkable digital artists. Each walks you through their favorite digital projects -- covering sources for ideas, Photoshop and Painter techniques, work processes, even physical materials.

Collectively, with Bloom's unifying hand, they offer a wonderfully coherent course in creating digital fine art. You'll start with planning and inspiration: finding your concept, understanding what will unify your collage or painting, considering scale and lighting. Next, you'll turn to the "step-by-steps" of digital painting: using filters, brushes, and cloning; and assembling collages in both Photoshop and Painter. The imagery and projects are wonderfully diverse, from still lives to bullfights, portraits to panoramas.

Bloom takes a closer look at some favorite filters, including Find Edges, Photo Filters, Motion Blur, and even some third-party plug-ins. Then, in a wonderful, if brief, chapter on experimentation, Bloom shows how to combine traditional media with digital. (For example, capturing traditional woodcut, intaglio, and silk-screening techniques, and using Lazertran to place your image onto marble, glass, tile, fabric, or even silk.)

The book concludes with five open-ended exercises designed to help you practice your new skills: from building collages based on grids, to painting with the Art History brush and Emboss filter. You needn't use Bloom's sample digital files, but they're downloadable if you want them. Bill Camarda, from the September 2006 Read Only

From the Publisher
Bloom's Digital Collage and Painting giveaway on
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240811758
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/10/2010
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 600
  • Sales rank: 1,010,482
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Ruddick Bloom is a Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at McDaniel College in Maryland. She has a BFA and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is well known for both her traditional wet darkroom alternative processes and her digital darkroom work. Sue has been teaching digital classes since the beginning of Photoshop and has used a Mac from the very first one on the market (128K, with a screen the size of an index card). Trained in drawing, painting, and printmaking, she was at one time a courtroom artist for television and newspapers. Her painterly skills enhance her photographic ones, and her images frequently combine techniques. Sue's work has been exhibited and collected widely.

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Read an Excerpt

Digital Collage and Painting

Using Photoshop and Painter to Create Fine Art
By Susan Ruddick Bloom

Focal Press

Copyright © 2011 Susan Ruddick Bloom
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-096369-3

Chapter One


Where does that kernel of inspiration come from? Does it hit you when you are in the shower or when you are driving on the turnpike? Wherever it takes hold of you, it marks the beginning of the process of making a piece of art. Some artists agonize over each step of the creation process, whereas for some the work flows seamlessly from an inner fountain of inspiration.

There is an endless array of possible starting points. The ah-ha moment can be when you look at the texture of an old wall with peeling paint, the detail on a moth's wing, or the sweep of landscape contours on a hillside. As artists, we can be surprised by almost anything as we explore our world. Anything and everything is at our disposal to serve as possible elements for inspiration.

Often we are taken by surprise when a particular element "suggests" itself to us. The making of art is very intuitive, and the artist learns to follow his nose. The actual making of the art is seldom a smooth ride. Instead, I would compare it to a roller-coaster ride. The process involves many unexpected twists, turns, and bumps. It is full of thrills and can be harrowing at times, but we wouldn't miss it for the world!

Once the seed of thought is planted, where do you go with it? It is important to think this thing through before you begin. What is the total concept? How can you integrate images into the completed work that might enhance that beginning concept? What additional imagery do you need? How do you see it coming together?

Visually, there are many things to consider. If you are using several images, as in a collage, how will you make them read as a whole? There needs to be a uniformity that unites the piece. You want to create a cohesive feel or mood. What will accomplish that for you? There are many unifying factors. Color can be the tie-in for you, or it might be scale, contrast, directionality, or more. We will cover some of these unifying factors in Chapter 2.

We will assume that the creative bug has gotten hold of you and you are now compelled to make a piece of art. So, hold onto your socks—here we go.

What Is a Collage, Montage, or Assemblage?

What form will the imagery take? Artists throughout time have used marble and stone for sculpture, canvas and panels for paintings, paper for drawing and printmaking, and photographic paper for photography, to mention only a few formats. But, there is a dawning of a new age in art materials. We are fortunate to be living in the beginning of the digital age. For the artist, this introduces a whole new array of artistic tools and possibilities. The computer can be used to make imagery and is yet another tool in the imaginary tool belt that artists have at their disposal.

I attended a superb art college, where I was grounded in all the basics: strong drawing and painting skills, intense study of art history, and a good exposure to a variety of different artistic pursuits, from ceramics to fiber art, from lithography to photography. Mastery of the tools and techniques was a must in every field of endeavor. The artist needs to become so well acquainted with the materials and equipment available that creative applications become second nature. Once some mastery of the materials is in place, the work flows more easily. When a more complete understanding of the tools and techniques is in place, the inquisitive mind of the artist can explore variations on the techniques. So it is with the field of computer imagery. The artist needs to prepare by obtaining a basic body of knowledge about computers, software, and printing devices. Once these elements are in place, the artist can begin to fluidly make art using the digital tools at hand.

In this book, I have chosen to concentrate on two digital applications in the field of art: digital collage and digital painting. I will attempt to explore the endless possibilities in this arena with you. How does the dictionary define assembled imagery? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions include the following concepts:

• Collage

An artistic composition of fragments (as of printed matter) pasted on a surface

• Montage

A composite photograph made by combining several separate pictures An artistic composition made up of several different types of elements

A varied mixture: jumble

• Assemblage

A collection of persons or things: gathering

The act of assembling

An artistic composition made from scraps, junk, and odds and ends

The art of making assemblages

For the sake of consistency in this book, I will refer to assembled images as collages, keeping in mind that in the field of art assembled images could mean many different things, in both two and three dimensions. Traditional collage materials might vary in form, from magazine photos to flattened chewing gum wrappers, from dried plant materials to beach pebbles. Everything is fair game if it can be used for a purpose that enhances the imagery. Our imagery will be digital in nature, but, as you will see later, that won't stop us from making artwork that has a more three-dimensional quality. No digital police will stop you from pushing the artistic envelope. I would encourage you to experiment and explore where these digital tools might take you with your artistic expressions.

What Is a Digital Painting?

Digital painting, for me, usually involves just one image. I start with a photograph that I would like to transform into a painting. I use both a photo manipulation program (Adobe® Photoshop®) and a painting program (Corel® Painter™). I will show you in Chapters 4 and 5 how I approach creating a painting digitally. We will use tools that truly mimic real art materials, such as charcoal, colored pencils, airbrushes, pencils, and paint, but first a word on photography and its impact on the creation of artwork.

Let's put photography's contribution to making art in perspective. Since the daguerreotype appeared on the scene in 1839, artists have seized on the artistic possibilities that photography offers. Artists were the leaders in exploring this new medium. Itinerant portrait painters often converted to the craft of photography and emerged as the first traveling photographers. Samuel Morse, the father of American photography, was in Paris for the presentation of Daguerre's process to the French Academy of Sciences. Most of us know Morse for his invention of the telegraph and other scientific endeavors, but he was also an accomplished painter. Morse brought the techniques of photography to America and later trained one of the most acclaimed photographers of the nineteenth century, Matthew Brady.

The list of artists that have used photography as an aid in the creation of their paintings is long indeed, incorporating such esteemed names as Degas, Duchamp, and Eakins. For some artists, the camera was used to stop-action the position of a body in motion. This was a task easily captured by the camera but not possible for the human eye.

One of the certainties in the art world that seems to transcend time is the dialogue that emerges as soon as a new type of medium is explored. We see that discussion currently, with the advent of digital fine art. Is it really art, if it came from the computer? It is as if the computer has somehow mechanically stained or lessened the artistic output. This cry is an old and recurrent one. Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Steichen are a few of the prominent names in photography that fought that artistic battle in the 1940s and 1950s, when they urged the creation of departments of photography in major museums.

Shortly after the announcement of Daguerre's photographic process was made in Paris, the painters in the French Academy declared, "Painting is dead." If the camera could capture in a few seconds what a painter would take months to paint, what was to happen to the painter? What did the artist have to offer that the camera did not? I think it is no coincidence that painting starts to take a new path in the years that followed. Artists began to paint the essence of a moment in time, creating the impression of the moment rather than a strictly realistic rendition. The Impressionism movement dominated in the years that followed the mass acceptance of the new technology of photography.

New technology has the force to propel art in new and unexpected directions. Change and growth always seem to come with controversy. I'm reminded of the quote that, "Only babies with a wet diaper want a change." The rest of us usually find reasons why we don't want to change. Change often requires retooling ourselves and a large chunk of time to learn new methods. It is easier to impugn these new methods than to learn from them, so beware! If you start to create art with the methods contained in this book, you may indeed be criticized and classified as a lesser artist. Wear the banner of pioneer proudly, though—you come from a fine tradition of artists who have dared to explore new materials and methods to see what those new technologies have to offer in the making of their art.

A word of caution should be extended early in this book. Using the computer to create art will not make you an artist, just as using pastels can't make you an artist. Ultimately, over time, the artwork will be judged on its own merits artistically. Your challenge will be to learn the techniques that this new form of expression offers to you. Once the vocabulary of the digital art world is well known to you and you can understand and practice the techniques, your artistic vision will be what separates you from others in the field.

Ultimately, the tools really don't matter. They are quite simply the tools that allow the art to emerge. Picasso could use a discarded bicycle seat to make art, and Jackson Pollock could fling paint onto a canvas. It was a matter of some controversy whether the work of these artists deserved the title of "art," but over time their vision has come through and the work can be seen in context.

Expect to invite some flack as a digital artist. Some art shows do not allow the inclusion of digitally produced art. Lack of knowledge about this field is the primary culprit, but some of the fault lies with ill-conceived and poorly executed artwork, produced without much consideration of basic art and design concepts. Educate yourself as an artist. Continue to explore opportunities to learn more. Sign up for workshops and courses. Go to museums regularly to study at the feet of the masters. Get together with other artists to work, talk, and critique. The myth of the artist tucked away in an attic garret making masterpieces is just that—a myth. Art is both a visual and an intellectual endeavor. You can never be too knowledgeable. Art is not made in a vacuum but is created in context with our society and current events. It should be no surprise that the art world is being transformed in the digital age, when society and commerce are undergoing enormous upheavals in this new digital world we live in.

Think It Out First, Assembling the Needed Images

It is very important to think through the intended project. What tools will you need? What imagery will be required? Try to extend the project out in your mind. Brainstorm a bit around your idea. Keep notes and draw thumbnail sketches. Maybe try a few little painting and sketching exercises around the concept. One of the things I have discovered in teaching, and in life as a whole, is that most people often pursue their first thought. Given a choice, most people will select the easiest and fastest track, and it is easier to go with that first idea than to take the time to think it through more thoroughly. It is often the case that the fifth or twelfth idea would really work better, but most people never allow that possibility to occur. Take the time to explore your initial concept in depth.

What do you want to communicate? Are you trying to go for a mood or evoke an emotion? Are you trying to create a political satire? What is your intended message? What would be the best method to convey that concept? These are the moments when the course of the project is determined. Take the necessary time to let the idea germinate well.

Will you need to initiate an artistic scavenger hunt to find the necessary imagery for this project? In these litigious times we live in, I think it is always wise to rely solely on your own imagery. Use your scanner as a camera. It is a cheap and very effective tool. Use your digital camera as a collection device. Freed from the consumption of costly film and processing, digital photography has created a willingness to gather a vast array of imagery.


Excerpted from Digital Collage and Painting by Susan Ruddick Bloom Copyright © 2011 by Susan Ruddick Bloom. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Dedication ix

Part I Planning and Inspiration

Chapter One Concept

What is a Collage, Montage, or Assemblage?

What is a Digital Painting?

Think it Out First, Assembling the Needed Images

Are You Drowning in Digital Files?

What is the Intended Output Size?

Chapter Two Important Considerations Before you Begin

Unifying Factors




Noise and Grain


Tree House Exercise

Rotating, Distorting, and Transforming


Directionality of Light

Quality of Light

Dramatic vs. Subtle

Projects: Places That Never Were

Australian Boulder

Hawaiian Waterfall

Menace in Venice

Chapter Three Inspiration

Digital Artists and Their Work

Dorothy Simpson Krause

Susi Lawson

Mary L. Taylor

Eric Scala

John Derry

Theresa Airey

Martin Addison

Alexander Kruglov (Shurelo)

Ad Van Bokhoven

Karin Schminke

Tony Sweet

Jason Seiler

Huntington Witherill

Cynthia Brody and Thomas Morris

Mike Thompson

Alex Jansson

Bruno Mallart

Cliff Cramp

Claudia Salguero

Janet Stoppee

Part II Step-by-Step Painting

Chapter Four Painting in Photoshop with Your Photos

How to Use Photoshop Filters and the History Brush to Create a Digital Painting

Using the Art History Brush to Create a Digital Painting

Using the Pattern Stamp to Create a Digital Painting

Using the Art History Brush and Emboss Filter to Create a Textured Digital Painting

Photo Illustration Using the Find Edges Filter

A Glorious Use for the Glowing Edges Filter as an Oil Painting Tool

Edge Effects for FREE!

Scanner Edge Effects

Film/Photo Edge Effects

New Photoshop Mixer Brush

Using John Derry's Third-Party Brushes

Chapter Five Painting in Painter

Simple Cloning Techniques

Impressionist Cloner

Pastel Cloning

Oil Paint Cloning

More Oil Painting

Bristle Oil Cloner

Combining a Variety of Mediums into One Painting

Adding Texture to Your Painting

Old Masters Inspiration

Photo Illustration

Photocopy-Inspired Painting

Auto Painting - Painting in a Hurry

Smart Stroke Painting

Make Virtually Any Brush a Cloner

Illustrative Sketch Technique

Painting Approach with Blenders

Edges and Cloning

Painterly Edge Effects

Chapter Six Assembling a Collage in Photoshop

My Scanner is a Camera

Simple Cloning Techniques

Simple Collages

Collage with Lighting Effect

Suspend True Scale

Themed Collages

Suspend Reality

Pile on the Layers

Combining Diverse Objects with Blending Modes

Shadow Power

Gridded Collages

Collage Possibilities for Wedding Photography

Look to History

Simple Kaleidoscope Collage

Gradient Tool for Smooth Blending

Allow Yourself to be Flexible in the Creative Process

Chapter Seven Assembling a Collage in Painter

Using Painter's Image Hose

Using Painter's Unique Brushes for Texture in a Collage

Using Colored Paper and Lighting Effects

Combining the Power of Painter and Photoshop in a Collage

Chapter Eight The Paradox: The Absolute Truth and the Exquisite Lie-Creating a Panorama in Photoshop

Concept and Preparation

Exposure Controls, Proper Overlap, Tripod or Not?

Relying on Layer Transparency and Layer Masking

Step-By-Step Panorama Instructions Using Collaging Techniques

"Grab Shot" Panoramas

Faux Panoramas

Themed Panorama-Style Linear Collages

Mirror-Images in Panoramic Format

Hurry-Up Panoramas-Using Photoshop's Photomerge

Auto-Align and Auto-Blend

Printing Panoramas

Fractured Panoramas

Precision Oriented Panoramics

Auto Pan


Pano Sweep Technology

Part III Artistic Considerations

Chapter Nine Filters

Using All the Great Filters Available in Photoshop

Favorite Photoshop Filters

Find Edges

Isolate and Blur

Photoshop Photo Filters

Motion Blur

Creating a Black and White Pencil Sketch Effect Using Filters

Similar Effects in Photoshop and Painter

Third-Party Filter Plug-Ins

nik Color Efex Pro Filters

Applying Filters Selectively

Lucis Pro 6

Craig's Actions

Totally Rad Action Mix

Combining Filters and Actions

Topaz Filters: Adjust 3, Simplify, Clean 2

Totally Rad Dirty Pictures

Alien Skin's Snap Art


Exposure 3

Chapter Ten Experimentation

Combining Traditional Media with Digital

Printmaking: Woodcuts, Intaglio and Lithography, and Silk-Screening

Overprinting and Collaging


Lazertran onto Marble, Glass, Tile, Fabric, and Silk

InkAID-Making Your Own Inkjet Paper

Japanese Inkjet Coated Papers

Thinking Creatively: Paint It, Draw Oh It, Tear It, Glue It, and More

Combining Drawing and Photography


Creative Use of Papers for Albums

IPhoto Books

Epson Story Teller Photo Book Creator Kits

Kolo Albums

Blurb Books

Art Leather Books

HP Photo Book

Other Album/Book Possibilities

Chapter Eleven Projects for You

Project 1: Gridded Collage Exercise

Project 2: Masks and Transparency Exercise

Project 3: Panorama Exercise

Project 4: Painting in Photoshop

Project 5: Painting in Painter

Chapter Twelve Essential Photoshop and Painter Techniques to Master

Photoshop Selection Tools

Photoshop: Transforming for Scale

Photoshop: Layer Adjustments

Photoshop: Layer Masks

Photoshop: Art History Brush

Build Your Own Brush

Photoshop: Blending Modes





Photoshop: Using Layer Adjustments, Layer Masks, and Blending Modes Together

Editing Your Images: Retouching-Cover-Girl Skin, Brightening Teeth and Eyes

Painter Basic Papers

Painter Cloning Brushes

Cloning Without a Cloning Brush

Chapter Thirteen Resources

Suppliers: Equipment, Software, Tools, and Artist Materials

Digital Collage and Painting Web Site


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