Creative Photoshop—Digital Illustration and Art Techniques, by Derek Lea, ISBN: 9780240520469

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, December 2007
Published by: Focal Press
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$39.95 UK£22.99

Award winning illustrator Derek Lea has penned this excellent reference book for Focal Press. Derek Lea's illustration work is a unique combination of original photography, traditional illustration and digital art. In Creative Photoshop, Lea uses his extensive experience with Adobe Photoshop to produce a series of tutorials which will give readers a nice balance of inspirational imagery and technical insight.

The book can be divided into four sections. The first section deals with traditional illustrative techniques such as drawing, painting and coloring. In this section Derek tackles the creation, definition and use of brushes, how to use shapes and layers, emulating the look of graffiti and stencil art and how to trace photographic imagery to create illustrations. It also details several techniques for creating illustrations from sketches and retro art-based stock. This section finishes with a look at how to color a comic-based illustration.

The second section covers unconventional illustrative techniques and methods. The first example uses thermal fax paper and a hairdryer to artificially age paper and also makes good use of scanned images and layering effects. The examples include the use of xerography, creating urban low-brow art. Lea also offers some very cool solutions for creating effective and colorful imagery quickly.


The third section covers the creation of illustrative photography and includes one of Lea's famous tutorials about the blending of architectural source materials with a model's face to create a striking image. Subsequent examples provide solutions for emulating a 3D ribbon peel-away effect, artificially ageing a portrait and creating a dark, moody and surrealistic image of a person peeling back their skin from a selection of different source materials. These images are a lot more complex than I have described, and it's well worth buying the book just to see what I mean.

The fourth and final part covers the use of Adobe Photoshop in combination with other software. This primarily centers on the use and enhancement of 3D imagery. The last two chapters describes the use and editing of vector illustrations and details their application as elements in the development of illustrations. My favorite chapter covers the creation of a morphing pattern based upon the work of Max Ernst. All told Creative Photoshop is an excellent book from one of the best creatives in the industry.

Cons: Not for beginners — of course neither is Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Pros: Well written. Easy to follow. CD-based tutorials and content. Creative and imaginative. Derek Lea succeeds with this excellent book because he carefully brings to bear his extensive practical experience with Adobe Photoshop and the other tools in his arsenal to create some very practical and creative solutions to tasks that illustrators, imageers and designers will encounter in their day-to-day work. Highly recommended.

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