May 13, 2005

First Time With Photoshop – Scott Kelby

I was kind of “late to the game” when it comes to Photoshop. While most of the experts I know started either at version 1.0, or they were using Photoshop before it was even called Photoshop, I didn’t get into the game until Photoshop 2.0 was already out.

At that time, I owned a small design studio and we were still sending out all our photos to be shot with a stat camera and then we’d manually paste the resulting halftones (which were awful by the way) into our layouts.

The first time I saw Photoshop, I got really excited about the idea that we could finally have some control over how our halftones looked.

I got even more excited once I realized that we could gang multiple photos onto one sheet of Linotronic film, because then not only would we get the quality we were looking for—we’d also save a ton of time and money. In fact, after the first time we output to Linotronic film, we never sent out for stats again.

So that was the practical side of Photoshop for me, but it wasn’t until a few months later that the light bulb really went on for me. I had been struggling along, picking up a technique here or there, but there were few books on Photoshop at the time, and the Internet wasn’t really up and running yet, so I was pretty much on my own. The more I used Photoshop, the more I could start to see what could be done with it, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get there on my own. It wasn’t long before I had a long list of things I really needed to learn, so I finally hired a local Photoshop consultant by the name of Manuel Obordo. He was one of the two Photoshop experts in my hometown, and he had worked at a digital prepress service bureau that was doing four-color separations using Photoshop before I even knew what Photoshop was.

I still remember to this day, he charged $45 a hour, and at that time, it seemed like an awful lot of money, but I was so desperate to learn these things, I went ahead and hired him for an afternoon (OK, truth be known, a friend of mine wanted to learn Photoshop too, so we split his two-hour minimum fee and we both learned at the same time).

Manuel was going along, answering all my questions, and he did a really thorough job, but it was his lesson on using the Pen tool that changed everything for me. When he left, I was so excited I started drawing paths and knocking things out of backgrounds that really had no business being knocked out. I was a Pen tool maniac, and I was selecting everything in sight.

His two hours of time—that $90—turned out to be the best investment in my Photoshop career that I would ever make. I was finally able to make professional-looking selections, and honestly, that sent me over the top. Sometimes a little thing like this acts as a catalyst to propel you to learn more, and it was mastering the Pen tool that did it for me. Once that happened, I only wanted to work in Photoshop, and I felt that every other program I had to work in was just keeping me from where I really wanted to be.

This is one of Scott’s early Photoshop jobs, a cover story from 1994 about Apple’s eWorld. PSN had a bit of a struggle getting Scott to send it in, he said in an email: “You might want to put some kind of disclaimer with it like “This sucks. Scott knows it sucks, but it was a long, long time ago, when everything he did sucked so much that it just didn’t matter.” Or something along those lines. :~)” When asked if we could quote him he said, “Sure, why not. It’s the truth. :)

As time went by, I became friends with Manuel, and in October of 1993 I actually hired him to teach at a one-day Photoshop seminar I hosted at the Tampa Convention Center. The seminar was a hit, and I’ve been teaching Photoshop ever since.

I actually ran into Manuel a couple of years ago at Seybold in San Francisco (and more recently at a local Applebee’s restaurant) and he’s still involved in imaging technology to this day. I guess Photoshop just gets under your skin. The program has so much depth, and you can do so much with it, that you never feel that you’ve learned it all. You always feel like there’s more to learn, and the more you learn, the more you realize how much there’s still to learn. You never hit the wall—you just bounce off it a few times until you finally break through, and once you do, a new side of Photoshop reveals itself to you, and believe it or not that makes you want to learn even more. It’s a crazy cycle indeed, but you have to admit—it sure is fun!

To be sure that the article doesn’t leave the impression that Scott does only a highly manipulated style of Photoshop work, we’ve included images from Scott’s personal portfolio of photography where the manipulation is subtle. . .




Scott Kelby is a busy boy. In addition to duties as President of the National Association of Photoshop Users he’s the editor of Photoshop User magazine as well as the newly renamed Layers magazine (formerly Mac Design Magazine). Scott is Educational and Training Director for the Adobe Photoshop Seminar Tour, which he co-founded in 1993. There are currently four different tours on the road in 2005, and you can see Scott training live on the Down & Dirty Tricks tour (inspired by his bestselling book of the same name). These tours visit major cities across the United States and the UK.

Scott also leads the top Photoshop convention, Photoshop World Conference & Expo scheduled for Boston, MA, September 7-9, 2005 at the Hynes Convention Center.

He will also be speaking at the Mac Design Convention in Tampa June 21-23 and at the Great Lakes Digital: Photoshop Soup2Nuts 2.0 June 24/25, 2005 in Ann Arbor Michigan where he’ll join; Thomas Knoll, Dan Burkholder, Bruce Fraser, Michael Grecco, Richard Newman, Jeff Schewe, Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann.

Scott’s most recent book is now shipping; Photoshop CS2 for Digital Photographers. This major update to the award-winning, record-breaking book is even bigger, even better, and exposes even more of the pros’ most closely-guarded secrets, including a special chapter which shows, for the first time ever, step-by-step how to set up Photoshop’s color management.

Each year Scott trains thousands of professional photographers on how to use Photoshop, and almost without exception they have the same questions, the same problems, and the same challenges-and that’s exactly what he covers in this book.


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