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image technology is the method in which pictures are produced. Since the first images were painted on the stone walls of caves with pigment extracted from natural materials, humans have invented new image technologies to visually express their ideas and experiences. The process of technical evolution was slow in preindustrial societies. For thousands of years, the techniques of creating images were primarily done by the skilled hands of artists and artisans. During and after the industrial revolution however, image technology accelerated to the point where today we see new innovations on almost a daily basis.
The evolution of the visual image is, in part, due to the methods available to the artist. Artistic styles are an expression of the zeitgeist (literally, spirit of the time) of the periods that produce them. As technology evolves, new ideas and visual idioms emerge that reflect the cultural ambiance of their times. This idea is quite apparent in the twentieth century from the speed in which new technologies emerged. The obvious changes in aesthetic values can be observed decade by decade as cultural, political, and technological influences affected visual expression. Each decade of the twentieth century can be associated with distinct aesthetic styles that are part of the ongoing development of culture.
One significant milestone in the history of visual art was the ability to portray tonality. Tonality is the effect of changing light or color on an image. In the real world, we see a seamless continuum of blended color that defines our visual world in light and shadow, and produces a tangible, three-dimensional reality of color and form. Primitive artists made no attempt to express tonality, in part because the technology was unavailable to them.
If you think that digital images are a new phenomenon, however, think again. One of the first methods of simulating the effect of tonal variation was to place tiny individual units of slightly varied color next to each other. We see this technique commonly employed in mosaics from Imperial Rome, like the one in Figure 1.1. Each element of color is a separate glass or ceramic tile. The tiles, placed next to each other in a graduated sequence, produce the effect of varied tonality.
The mosaics of two thousand years ago are the predecessors of today's Photoshop images. Instead of glass, the digital artist uses tiles of light called pixels (see Figure 1.2). Today's scanners can "see" and interpret color information from a continuous-tone image into these tiny units. When the image has been captured, we can, in Adobe Photoshop, select and change the color of pixels individually or in groups.
Creating images by applying color to a surface is one of the most basic forms of artistic expression; indeed, the history of the world can be viewed in the legacy of paintings that have been left behind by our talented predecessors. Throughout history, the technical and aesthetic qualities of painting have changed, various styles have emerged, and pictorial content has evolved.
Representational painting dominated the world for centuries. Paintings contained content that could be easily recognized, whether the subject matter was religious, historical, or descriptive. In the late nineteenth century, artists begun to abstract the tangible realities that they observed to produce art filtered through their personal experiences. Within 50 years, abstraction led to the creation of a totally nonobjective idiom in styles like the Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s and the Minimalism of the 1960s.
Still, the tradition of representation coexisted with abstract painterly forms, but it was reinvented time and again as it reflected the zeitgeist in which it created. Pop Art of the 1960s, for example, introduced us to the idea that the objects and icons of popular culture could be assimilated and even elevated into the realm of "pure art." This concept was revolutionary, because it changed the way we viewed the commonplace.
Though the imagery has changed, the painter's tools have remained pretty much the same over the centuries. Paint, palette, knife, brushes, solvent, paper, canvas or panel, and easel have been around for quite some time, having seen few refinements throughout history. Even the airbrush evolved from an air-driven breath atomizer that has been in use since the eighteenth century. The concept remains the same: mix colors on the palette, adding solvent if desired, and apply them to the painting surface with a brush or knife. Only recently have methods of applying color to a surface been substantially transformed.
Photoshop is a virtual art studio. Through Photoshop's graphic user interface (GUI), you can apply color to an image as if you were painting. Instead of pigment, however, you are mixing colors and painting with light. Photoshop has numerous tools, operations, and filters that enable you to make a photographic image appear as if it had been painted in virtually any style and with any paint medium. You have 16,777,216 colors to choose from and a brush of any size or shape with which to apply the color.
Another significant change in the ability to produce images came about a thousand years ago, with the emergence of woodcuts, which were used to print textiles. In the early fifteenth century, the use of woodcuts and wood engraving began to take hold in Europe as a method of producing pictures (see Figure 1.3). At about the same time, Gutenberg introduced the concept of movable type technology. Printing gave us the capability of producing multiples of the same image-the first big step in mass communication.
Of course, the printed image has evolved over the past 500 years; we've invented numerous methods of imprinting ink on paper, monochromatically or in full color.
In the case of traditional offset printing, the process involves separating colors into their ink components, transferring the information to a piece of film and then to a metal plate. Ink is applied to the plate, and the color is imprinted onto paper.
Photoshop software is used to prepare images for almost any commercial printing technique, including offset lithography, silk screen, and digital press. Artists even use Photoshop to create and transfer images for traditional copper or zinc intaglio printing.
Of course, the most direct method of printing a Photoshop image is to a laser or ink-jet printer. Photoshop files can also be output to film recorders (to generate color slides) and imagesetters (to produce high-resolution color separations). Exciting new output technologies have appeared within the last few years to print super-sized ink-jet images and continuous-tone photographic prints.
In the nineteenth century, in an attempt to revive what was perceived to be the glories of the classical civilization of the Greeks and Romans, much of what was being produced in the art world consisted of the representational, idealized images of the Neoclassic style. In the latter part of the century, the nature of European art shifted. The Impressionist movement emerged with a fresh new approach to painting. Artists like Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and Mary Cassatt produced paintings that were explorations of the quality and nature of light and color.
The importance of the Impressionist's contribution to the way we perceive color can not be overstated. One particular group of Impressionists, the Pointillists, and particularly Georges Seurat (see Figure 1.4; a color version of this image is in the color section), were most influential to the digital art we practice today. The Pointillists worked extensively with color theory and how one color affects the colors around it. They applied paint to the canvas in units, or little dots, not unlike the pixels on a Photoshop document or the halftone dots on a color separation. They experimented with how the eye mixes adjacent colors. Placing dots of two opposite colors-red and green, for example-next to each other will produce gray when seen from a distance. The relative density of the dots affects the darkness and lightness of the perceived color and its tint...
Part II: Color Adjustment and Image Retouching
Chapter 15: Color Management and Printing
Chapter 16: Adjusting Tonality and Color
Chapter 17: Modifying and Mapping Color
Part III: Mastering Techniques
Chapter 18: Filtering Your Image
Chapter 19: Making Difficult Selections
Chapter 20: Advanced Layer Techniques
Chapter 21: Automating the Process
Chapter 22: Overlay Techniques
Chapter 23: Duotones and Spot Color
Part IV: Photoshop 6 for the Web
Chapter 24: Designing for the Web with Photoshop
Chapter 25: Working with ImageReady
Appendix A: Tool Descriptions
Appendix B: File Formats
Appendix C: Blending Modes
Appendix D: Quick Keys