Trust Your Experience

This semester, one of the subjects on offer specialised in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Now I’d never used illustrator, but I understood paths. I’d dabbled in InDesign, but wasn’t an expert. What I do consider myself an expert in is Photoshop.

Here’s a gem from 2005.

As a kid, we didn’t really have any games on the computer and the internet was very limited – Australian dialup in the 90s with parents who needed the phone line for their home business. My sister was studying graphic design, so what I had constant access to was photoshop. After 20 minutes of solitaire got boring, I could spend hours clicking buttons and trying out effects to see what they would do and what kind of art I could create.


Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 11.34.12.png
Some 2009 gold.

I kept this up throughout my adolescence, literally just playing with photoshop for fun; it was my favourite game.


Of course, to play this game I needed a lot of source imagery. The funnest projects were made from pictures of people I knew, so I had to take a lot of photos. The more photos I took, the better I got at that too.

Eventually, I had had enough practice to convince my brother-in-law that I was worth hiring as a photographic assistant.

In that job, I learnt not just how to frame a photo, but how to light it and how to think about the way it will be displayed and the information I wanted to retain. He also taught me a lot more about photoshop, including advanced selections, masks, and paths.

So this year, I was pretty confident in telling my program director that I didn’t need that digital imaging subject. Yes, there were things I didn’t know about illustrator and indesign, but there are so many amazing tutorials online and my genuine interest in this field would motivate me to teach myself as I had done with photoshop in the past. Below is the evidence I submitted to satisfy a prior-learning credit.

Example 1: My online interactive CV 2016. (Adobe InDesign)

Example 2: Editing product photography 2015 – using layering to show best aspects of the watch and stamp-tool to clean up surfaces. (Adobe Lightroom + Photoshop)

Example 3: Vector illustration from scratch 2009. (Adobe Photoshop)
Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 11.49.37.png

Example 4: Editing Product photography 2011-12 (for Bridgehead Australia web design company then Boylen Bridgehead publishing company). Using layers to show best lighting on all aspects of bottle. Contouring for external use. Stamp-tool to clean up images. When working here, I would do 5-10 of these a day among other tasks. (Adobe Lightroom + Photoshop)
Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 11.50.09.png

Example 5: Product Video for Harcourts enterprise app 2015. Editing, compositing, animation. (Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop & After Effects)
(password-protected video link supplied)

I was really glad I’d dropped the course so that I had time to dedicate to extra-curricular offerings such as the DIA Live Design Competition, from which I learnt a lot and got to interact with professional designers as peers rather than teachers.

I was still able to keep tabs on what my classmates were learning and even offer them help with their work. The lecturer was really kind and allowed me to drop in on occasion, should I find any of the lectures interesting (one on infographics was right up my alley).

I also had time to do some freelance work for my sister’s graphic design business and my girlfriend’s game development company, both using illustrator, which I taught myself on the job.

The project below required me to take original character artwork and adapt the components to fit a specified form, so that each of the elements could be used in a paper-doll app.

After seeing how messy the layers in the original file were, I had a lot of confidence in myself. It reminded me of my first degree in filmmaking, when I saw the confident male students making obvious mistakes, I decided to stop passing up roles for them and start believing in my own abilities!

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