Digital Collage and Painting: Using Photoshop and Painter to Create Fine Art, by Susan Ruddick Bloom, ISBN: 0-240-80705-7

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, September 2006
Published by: Focal Press/Elsevier
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$49.95, UK£27.99

Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter IX are programs that you always leave with the feeling that you're just scratching the surface of their capabilities. This book does an excellent job of showing just what these powerful programs are capable of when you've got a specific creative project in mind. The creation of digital collages and paintings are very artistic applications of Photoshop's capabilities and something to which Painter, as a natural media emulation tool, is dedicated.

At over 600 pages, "Digital Collage and Painting: Using Photoshop and Painter to Create Fine Art" is a hefty volume which is bursting with hints, tips, case studies and example based projects. It also features coverage of several third party plug-ins and tools including Nik Color Efex and the AutoFX range which augment the already powerful features of both Photoshop and Painter.

Susan Bloom is well qualified to author this book, being a Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Art & Art History at McDaniel College in Maryland. She teaches respected courses on the subjects covered by this book and is also a very capable photographer. The book consists of 13 chapters organized into 3 distinct sections. To attempt to cover each chapter in detail is beyond the scope of this review, so I've chosen to focus mainly on how well each section achieves its goals.


In section one, Planning and Inspiration, the reader is taken through concepts, factors for consideration and then through inspirational examples provided by the contributing artists selected for the book. The short introductory chapters are light and easy to follow and only serve to cover the basics. The inspirational sections feature and impressive list of digital artists such as Julieanne Kost, Stephen M. Burns and Audrey S. Bernstein, all of whose work I am familiar with, and as well as many others who are well chosen for their ability to showcase the creative possibilities inherent in Photoshop and Painter. Each artist discusses their equipment, history and their creative process and takes readers through the process of creating one of the selected projects.

The second section deals with the process of working with the featured tools. First a chapter on painting with Photoshop and then one with Painter and then chapters on creating collages with both tools respectively. In all chapters the use of brushes, filters and layering techniques help to build a picture of the very powerful capabilities to be found in both these programs. The chapters also provide some very useful tips on how to create your own edge effects, creating background textures, hand tinting photos and on creating grid based photo-collages.

The final chapter in this section covers the creation of panoramic images, which until I came across this book, I must admit I never really thought of in the context of being collages. The coverage is quite comprehensive and also discusses and provides tips on a whole range of issues that artists and photographers producing panoramas will very definitely encounter.

The final section deals rather grandly with artistic considerations and looks first at the use of filters and effects in your projects. The coverage, even though it is not comprehensive, does succeed in showing what can be achieved with the judicious application of both stock and third party plug-ins. The chapter on experimentation however, was actually one which I enjoyed the most because of its coverage of output techniques and media. The suggestions for paper types were something which I had considered, but now formed a reminder for me to rediscover. The last few chapters are dedicated to exercises you can explore by yourself. The lack of a tutorial CD is disappointing, though the projects can be found via the Focal Press web site.

Cons: No tutorial CD.

Pros: Digital Collage and Painting is yet another reason why Focal Press have become one of my favored publishing imprints. Excellent coverage of Photoshop and Painter. Contributing authors and their featured projects are well selected. Well written. Excellent examples. The book is well written and researched and it provides a wealth of information which is both relevant and useful. The range of projects showcased and each artist's insights are something we can all benefit from. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. For anyone interested in digital painting or creating digital collages, this one is highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:

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