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Discussion - Altering your own art in Photoshop - The art of Thornwolf — LiveJournal
Discussion - Altering your own art in Photoshop
So I've been thinking a lot lately on this subject and I figured I'd open it up to discussion. When I'm drawing sometimes I don't like how the contrast of my image is turning out so I'll play around with the curves or contrast in Photoshop. Sometimes I'll even go so far as to alter the colors using the Color Balance tool. But I can't help but feel this is cheating slightly.

Often times I work with Open Canvas and alter things a bit in Photoshop. I've had the problem where if I keep switching programs the colors are off sometimes so I don't get an accurate representation of what its really going to look like. In this case, when I switch stuff over to Photoshop the colors are muted slightly. /slightly/. But it still bothers me. People who have used Open Canvas for years say they haven't noticed this, maybe its just me. But either way, a lot of my icons you see here started off looking slightly more muted or different hues before I decided on something I liked. This icon I'm using now? It was done entirely in Open Canvas but when I took it to Photoshop I boosted a bit of the pink and changed the hue of the blue a bit to make it "pop".

Is this cheating? Essentially its my own art, and using the tools available to me is, in a sense, still part of the creative process, because I'm not asking Photoshop to fix my art for me, I'm not even using filters, I'm conciously deciding what looks best /to me/ and what might be the most eyecatching. I intended to do a tutorial based on what I did to create this image with another pic for fierycatthing which she commissioned me to do, but part of me wants to omit the part where I take it into photoshop and decide "wow I really don't like how that turned out, I like this boost in contrast better". I feel that if I were a better artist I would already be able to "see" the colors I want to see and the contrast I want to see without having these easy fixes right at my fingertips, but essentially...isn't that what these programs are for? To make things EASIER for us artists? Take In Design for example, Dad was telling me how complicated the graphic arts industry used to be before Publisher and In Design and Quark...lots of cutting and pasting and hoping for the best when now its just a couple clicks and you're done. There's still work involved, but this tool makes it easier.

So I'd like to open it up for discussion, but please vote in this poll so I can get a general idea of where people's thoughts lie:

Poll #1036574 Photoshop Altering: Cheating or Legitimate?

Do you feel it's cheating to alter the colors or contrast of your own art in Photoshop?


*edit* My internet crapped out before I could edit this and explain, I'm speaking solely of digital art. Personally I feel that if you misrepresent your art by making it look better than it actually is in life, especially if you intend to sell it, then thats a whole other ballgame. Its fine to adjust it to where it looks similar to the way it looks in life if your scanner didn't pick it up, but otherwise I consider it misrepresentation. But thats just my stance.
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yaochi From: yaochi Date: August 10th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)

You're not cheating.

Not unless you are some sort of purist that insists on only using a portion of your tool palette to get where you desire to go.
altonwings From: altonwings Date: August 10th, 2007 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I personally don't think it's cheating. You are, after all, working on unfinished raw art that you have produced. All the old masters throughout history had their own methods for working on fixing things that didn't look right--this is just another tool for the modern artist.

Don't like that angle?

How many individuals are required to produce just 5 seconds of completed animation put forth by a major studio? A couple hundred--all with their various tools of the trade. It still doesn't take away from the artistry of Bambi. Use the tools.
robocoon From: robocoon Date: August 10th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd say for real media yes, for any other digital, no.
emerald_sage From: emerald_sage Date: August 10th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
But what if it's real media and they list it as "mixed media"

Digital is a type of media is it not?
camelai From: camelai Date: August 10th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think it is cheating to use any of the tools available to you. If anyone tries to tell you that it is, ask them if they gather, grind and mix their own pigments for paint/colored pencils/pastels/what have you. Limiting yourself to old tools to be "pure" just seems like a waste of time, to me.
The only problem I can see is "fixing" a real media piece with digital tools. The problem is not that it's cheating, it's just that your real media original is not quite the finished piece. If you have no problem with that, then there's no problem, is there? :)
yaochi From: yaochi Date: August 10th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Sometimes the real media is just the beginning.
digitalis From: digitalis Date: August 10th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Hell no! Hell, I can't imagine NOT doing it. :P
nesting From: nesting Date: August 10th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
It's all about presentation. it's not cheating because I make the decisions to use those tools to make my art better, cleaner and it opens up a whole bunch of new possibilities. It's another extention of mixed media. It's what photographers do in the darkroom.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: August 10th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Thats another thing, photographs, awhile ago if you asked me I might have said "well yes its cheating a bit to alter your photos in photoshop" but yanno...I took photography class and thats essentially what we were doing with burning and dodging and all that fun stuff..we were altering what was already there. Why /not/ make it look better?
hbruton From: hbruton Date: August 10th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a staunch user of traditional methods but I have no problem at all with folks that change things digitally. It's just another tool. So what if it's different from the original? You want to produce multiple variations of one traditional media pic? More power to you. Have fun, explore, create.
vivadawolf From: vivadawolf Date: August 10th, 2007 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
It totally feels like cheating, but I still do it!
I suckkk at making colours right....after I alter it, its like, ugh, why couldn't I have done that in the first place?! Oh well.
tania From: tania Date: August 10th, 2007 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Photoshop is a tool; use it. It'd be cutting off your nose to spite your face if you had all these awesome tools at your disposal and refused to touch them.
shadow_weaver From: shadow_weaver Date: August 10th, 2007 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
No it isn't cheating. OC is a great painting program but it sucks for editing. I put every thing I paint in oc back into ps to finish it off, crop edges, do fonts, brighten and up the contrast or do other tweaks.

Is it cheating to use more than one brush in watercolor? Is it cheating to use color pencils on top of watercolor? No of course not. Mixed media is perfectly fine as is using more than one comp program to make your art the best it can be!
doodlesthegreat From: doodlesthegreat Date: August 10th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Everyone from DaVinci to Warhol altered their own work as they felt necessary, so you're doing fine.
steppinrazor From: steppinrazor Date: August 10th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
The vast majority of art -is- cheating :P I mean, unless you're one of those fine arts "process" sorts (where the act of arting is more important than the final result), then it doesn't really matter what methods you use to produce the best piece you can (as long as it doesn't involve blatant thievery, like tracing or something).

I had a professor who would scan in his work and play in Photoshop to see what colors would work where, before going back to his oil painting.

So, yeah, I don't see why it would be a problem (unless, like you mentioned, you're selling an original, but making it look better on a sales ad than it does in person).
turbinerocks From: turbinerocks Date: August 10th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm one of those "fine arts process" types, and my medium IS Photoshop. ^_^ I'm not into planning paintings out, I like to let things happen to surprise me, and when I have 40 layers of photoshop blend layers, it's easy to get surprised!
saitenyo From: saitenyo Date: August 10th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope, I consider color adjustments, levels, curves, layer modes, etc. to just be more tools that if I find useful, I ought to use.

Obviously artists should not rely entirely on said tools to create good art for them (not like those tools could do that anyway without actual skill behind them). But why ignore a tool that can help you improve what you've already created? I don't think it's any more cheating than, say, glazing a finished piece with a new layer of watercolor to adjust the colors would be cheating.
henchman409 From: henchman409 Date: August 10th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
It's not cheating, and I do it all the time. I prefer PS for its wide range of tools, plus OC doesn't have a CMYK setting and is therefore kind of dangerous if you're looking to do print work. As for the Photoshop/OC issue, you might want to check and make sure your monitor settings match your Photoshop color settings.

Just so you know, almost every one of my sketches has been digitally altered in some way. You sketch something, you love it, you scan it, and when you see it at 25%, damned if the head isn't too small. Thank god for Photoshop, I say.
turbinerocks From: turbinerocks Date: August 10th, 2007 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Damn right! Tweaking proportions after the fact is so satisfying. ^_^
buttfacemakani From: buttfacemakani Date: August 10th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it still takes considerable talent and skill to know that you need to alter the color of something, and if you have the means with which to do it, then all the better for you. It also shows that you care enough about your art to actually enhance it in that way. And of course after time, you'll learn how to compensate in the first place and not have to alter the colors afterwards.

Or at least that's what I'm hoping for for me xD.
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