The Dragon

Three months ago, when I looked at “Realistifying” a student’s drawing, I had some high expectations for myself. As a fairly tech-savvy person, I thought I would be able to do 4 or 5 drawings and that it would look like a movie poster… Well, was I wrong!

Although the overall Dragon did not turn out movie quality, I have gained an enormous respect for people who use Photoshop seamlessly. I attempted to make several videos of myself working on the Dragon. However, after a few hours and only a tiny portion of progress, I didn’t think they would be delightful to watch. Not only was I having to pause and watch a 30-40 minute Youtube video, but I was also having to slow it down and re-watch small portions several times to try and mimic their movement or see what tool they had selected.

A massive takeaway from attempting this is how frustrating it can be for a student to put hours into something to only come up with what many would mark as “approaching.” Every day in the classroom, I see students put in extra effort, seek additional support, and are still frustrated at the outcome. As a professional development tactic, I think this is the only way to put yourself in the shoes of a student. To try, struggle, try again, and in the end, know that other people have better outcomes and make it look way easier!

Back to my Dragon. I was very fortunate that I had a young man in grade 7 lend me the picture of his Dragon and allow me to post it all over my blog. There is a piece of me that feels like I have failed him because I thought it would be movie quality, and I believe that is what he expected.

This is the original drawing I had to work from

As I was going through, I had ideas on how to texture things based on what I think a dragon would look like. I will admit that my ability did get in the way of my overall vision; I was still able to learn along the way. Below is an early picture of the progress I was making.

Scales added

At this point, I had been working on this Dragon for a long while. I was several hours of Youtube videos in. I was able to make the general shape. I had a scale texture I used and masked into the shape. Also, with several frustrating attempts, I changed the colour! These were all small successes for me!

Although my overall goal was to “Realistify” this Dragon, I was very curious about many parts of what photoshop had to offer. Learning the layers in themselves was a challenge. The basic premise of if it is on top of the list, it is the top thing. However, when dealing even with this Dragon, there were hundreds of layers to work with. I found myself following Youtube tutorials and working through different projects to learn the tools, which can be found in my Give the People What They Want blog post. There I was able to create some different ones of which I use as my computer background for the time being. I would suggest that new Photoshop users follow tutorials to learn some of the complex tools.

Desktop Background

As I felt more comfortable with these tools, I would go back to work on the Dragon and found myself getting more frustrated because I just felt success in many of the tutorials I followed along with. Patients were a definite need when learning Photoshop. I knew just because I did it 5 minutes ago does not mean I could replicate it again. The Dragon did not turn out exactly how I envisioned when I began this journey three months ago, but here is the grand reveal!

The final product

Things I wish I could have done better would have been the shading on the scales. I messed around with the upper neck for hours trying to blend. I could not figure it out. The spikes are something that looks good but took many, many, many hours. Each one was pasted, sized, and shaded to give an effect. The back spikes are the things I am most excited about. I wish they could have been attached to a cooler-looking Dragon, which was my fault. You will also be able to tell I had to omit some things from the original design because I did not know how to incorporate it with a texture. Looking back, I may have done feathers.

As you can guess, I am no pro when it comes to photoshop. I tried to add a little flair with the castle and moonlighting. Perhaps it was a flop, but I did have fun in the process, although I was testing my patients at times. I can say in the end. I learned more than just Photoshop through my learning project!

I appreciate if you took the time to read my blog throughout this process. Have a great holiday and hopefully you’ll catch me in the next class!

Durston McKenna

Photoshop Transfers to Illustrator

For this week I wanted to do something a little different which is showing how the skills in Photoshop can transfer over to Illustrator. One of the big differences from Photoshop to Illustrator is the ability to create vectors. Vectors are paths that can be made into any size and will not pixelate. When a company is creating a logo they are generally vectors. This way they could put it on a semi-trailer or business card with no distortion.

This week you will see me take an image, recreate it on illustrator, and utilize my photoshop skills in order to show a preview before then creating it. I apologize in advance for the longer video. As I have said in previous posts I am no wizard so it does take a little longer.

Creation process
Preview picture of what they’d like
Re-created vectors on Illustrator
Used Photoshop to show a rendering of what it will look like
Engraving Process

Using Photoshop in order to be able to create a realistic looking preview makes it easier for the client to approve the design. When sending the vector on the white and black it can make it challenging to imagine what it will look like. Although these skills do seem small as you can see they do take a beginner a while to navigate.

When screen recording on my computer I use Streamlab OBS. Streamlabs was popular for Twtich.tv streamers. It was a way they could show their game play while showing their webcam and sharing their voice. It has many capabilities, and would definatly be something I would use if I were to teach virtually again. Also, there is several tutorials on Youtube which makes it easy to follow along.

As always thanks for taking the time to read my blog, hope you’re having a great week!

Step in the Right Direction?

Hello Everyone,
Thank you for checking in with my blog and I hope you are having a great week!

Welcome back to the journey that is me learning Photoshop! After many hours of messing around with the tools and ever-growing features photoshop has to offer, I created something that I was excited about. I want to warn you I was not excited because it was good, but because it was a step in the correct direction for my end goal: to “Realistify” a kid’s drawing.
I also showed the awesome dragon a student drew for me to try and realistify in Photoshop at 4:02. I told him that I could butcher it, but I will do my best!

The real question is does anyone like the sound of their own voice in videos!?

Stay tuned for a list of videos and tools that I have been using through this journey to help me improve!

Give the People What They Want

Although it was only five responses. I wanted to leave it in other people’s hands. I would have thoroughly enjoyed learning any of these five skills. The results are in… *drumroll*

Forms response chart. Question title: What should I learn. Number of responses: 5 responses.

60% voted for me to learn photoshop and “realistify” drawings or things! I am excited about this. The videos I shared in my previous post from Benny Productions did inspire me to explore this option. Another interesting thing about Benny is that he is a 19-year-old kid from the Netherlands who has exploded on YouTube in the last year. He said he had always been creating but was able to turn his hobby into a career, which I find amazing about the internet.

where am i now?

Since the vote, I thought it would be vital for me to learn some of the ins and outs of Photoshop. However, I do use Adobe Illustrator causally for a side hustle of mine. I am by no means a professional or proficient at it. I learned very quickly that Illustrator to Photoshop, although made by Adobe, function differently even to navigate around. This will take some getting used to.

The last week I have spent time following along with tutorials closely to learn some skills and get more proficient at things that I have seen in Benny’s videos that make things come to life. Skills like illuminating, shading, and overall colour in the photos. Below are some of my creations with the linked videos that I followed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JxCbwn-6bQ&list=RDCMUC_mkC8ChfzCJcuSqSMwvUWw&start_radio=1&rv=3JxCbwn-6bQ&t=441

I hope by next update I will have followed along with more tutorials and become a little I hope by the next update, I will have followed along with more tutorials and become a little more comfortable navigating through Photoshop tools and all the layers I am creating. There are some tutorials around warping and exposure shading that I will need to dive into if I want to make a drawing realistic.

I have a few students at school that create drawings of scary and creative monsters. They build them almost like Pokémon. They have great details, and they outline the strengths and weaknesses of their creations. It would be cool if I could incorporate those into the final product as well.

I look forward to continuing this journey and sharing my creations with you!

What skill should I learn?

As I think about what skill I would like to learn and share my journey, I have many ideas. I have four thoughts around this that I would like to share and get your opinion about. The most important thing for me when choosing is to enjoy learning it. There are many things out there that I have wanted to do, but time has always passed by, and I haven’t for some reason. I want to take this class/assignment as an opportunity to achieve one of these finally.

First: Photoshop “Realistify-ing”
I have minimal experience with Photoshop. I have messed around with a few things in the past 20 months throughout Covid. Nothing good at all, and just following tutorials. However, I ran across this Youtube Benny Productions. He takes drawings and turns them into a realistic type of creation on Photoshop. My first thought would be to have a student in my school draw a picture of a character, and I would try to “realistify” it. 

Benny Productions –> Photoshopping YOUR Drawings! | Realistified! S1E3

Photoshopping YOUR Drawings Again! | Realistified! S1E2

Second: Create a Videogame
As a millennial that grew up playing video games and still finds them as a way to unwind after stressful weeks, this has always been a dream. Create a video game. This past weekend I spent several hours running through tutorials and was able to get the main character to move with different animations. This is a more significant undertaking, but it is something that I enjoy learning about. This one involves several steps. I would need to learn how to use the program, the coding language, and creating sprites. When it comes to this, I would need to create a small goal to have a functional world that I could have an objective and complete it in the game. I still have to do some thinking around this, but I would love your thoughts!

My attempt at a sprite
My attempt at code to make player move


Third: Podcast
This thought is right in the title, a podcast. For this project, I would look to split some of the learning with another classmate Chris Brennan. After researching how much goes into a podcast, I thought it would be good to bring in a partner. 
–> A name
–> Topics for discussion
–> Planning
–> Scripts
–> Recording
–> Editing
–> Creating theme music
–> Adding music

Fourth: Visual Effects/Rendering Software
My fourth and final thought is difficult to describe because the program has various functions that I could explore. The easiest way to describe it without looking too much into it is to create something and add real-world materials and render it as if it was real. The free program I would use is Blender. I followed along with a tutorial for around 3 hours and created the very early resemblance of a doughnut. There are many other functions, as I said earlier, that I would explore. One function that would interest me is rendering a remodel for my house. This would take some exploration.

Early stages of creating a doughnut
This could be the final product rendered with many more hours!

As I said at the beginning I am curious to know what your thoughts are. Would you please take a second to fill out a survey to help me decide? –> Survey