So over the past few weeks I have really gotten into this online graphics tool called Pixlr.com. Pixlr.com is a cheaper alternative to Photoshop in that it’s free.
First, I do have some hang ups about using graphics software for editing because it feels like I’m cheating. To me, drawing seems like an organic process, so when I use the computer to correct mistakes or make enhancements, I tend to feel this sense of shame. I also wonder if it’s not my own set of high expectations that allow me to believe that I should be able to have the skill sets to produce work that’s either blemish free or that I should have the ability to correct errors on the spot.
Photographers edit and enhance their work all the time with computer software, especially now with the Instagram for the iPhone. To their credit though, they are creating their work through the use of technology, more specifically the digital camera.
In spite of my personal issues I do realize there is some value in using editing software. When you have your work photographed, the camera’s viewpoint can actually be a little different than your own. There might be some issue where the color is slightly off because of the lighting, or that the details of the subject matter don’t translate as well as they do in person. My picture, Nine Ladies Dancing was a perfect example of that.
My first introduction to making major editing changes happened with “Clean Heart.” I was messing around with another free online software program called Picasa. Shown below is a picture of “Clean Heart” which I drew using oil pastel on a blue project board.
Later on I started messing around with the program a bit more and wondered, hey, what if I changed the color of “Clean Heart”? Then I saw this one editing feature called Glow under the Effects tab. I selected it and it created a sepia glow in the center of the heart. I printed it out and actually liked it better than the original. The background is gray but it looks like it has this hint of light purple when printed. The sepia center makes the subject look more alive.
So now I’ve been going back and looking at other pieces. I just finished editing Praise In the House which is my black and white piece. I used the cloning tool to even out the skin tone in the faces since a couple of them were looking a bit streaky and blotchy. As I was doing this I was imagining myself at a spa, laying on a chair getting Photoshopped, where someone was cleaning up my blemishes using the cloning tool. There’s gonna be some major money in that if that technology comes into existence!
Once I started editing however, I kept finding more things that needed to be corrected. At what point do you stop? I felt like I was feeding into my perfectionist tendencies. This piece was completed about eight years ago, so the control with the pen was not up to par. In the end did it matter? This is actually one of my more popular pieces.
And that’s probably what I want to avoid. I don’t want to go so far overboard that I lose the identity and character of the work. I don’t want it to be too perfect or too technical. Then there’s also the risk of screwing it up altogether. I liken it unto a person who is dissatisfied with their looks and has multiple plastic surgeries to correct their “faults” only to discover that the end results are even worse than their original appearance.
So how do you feel about editing with the computer? Feeling guilty about it or guilt free?