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Creating Graphics Clients Love (and pay for!)

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Creating Graphics Clients Love (and pay for!)
A Creative "Real World" Product Review



David Chandler-Gick reviews Creating Graphics Clients Love (and pay for!)


David Chandler-Gick
David Chandler-Gick
Backyard Productions
Dynamic Media Group

Article Focus:
David Chandler-Gick takes a good look at Creating Graphics Clients Love (and pay for!) Volumes 1 and 2 for Adobe Photoshop produced by PixelPops Design, LLC and concludes that for the neophyte who has never really used Photoshop, this series is an investment that will get you up and running quickly, creating graphics that will make you look like an experienced Photoshop user.

Click here to find out more information about PixelPopsBrian Gunn, Russ Jolly and Lance Gray are the team that form PixelPops Design. Lance is the front man for the (currently) 2 volume series Creating Graphics Clients Love (and pay for!) for Adobe Photoshop.

I'll start by first off mentioning that these PixelMonkeys are three of the most industrious Videographers I've been privileged to know. Secondly, I'll be sure to point out my own personal luggage that I bring to their offerings: As a general rule of thumb, I despise all things stock. Stock footage, canned animations, royalty free graphics and music. In my humble opinion, these are crutches that most “wannabe” video professionals have a tendency to over-rely on. Now, this may seem sanctimonious to some readers who use the animated Rab-Byte cupid in every wedding video they hand their brides, but is that particularly creative?

Let me qualify something else: “General” and “Rule of thumb” both meaning that I'm not dead set in my beliefs.

Enter PixelPops.

Like the majority of the Digital Juice offerings, flexibility is king, and PixelPops offerings are some of the most flexible. Yes, you can use their stock offerings as-is and create a beautiful graphic for your projects. But best of all, you can use this not as a final solution, but a starting point, allowing you to truly make it your own.

Yes, I've gotten this far and have yet to get to the subject.

It's important to point out that PixelPops collection of Photoshop Actions, aptly titled Pop-Ins, are one such example. Used as is, great. Used as a starting point, even better.

Creating Graphics Clients Love (and pay for!) for Adobe Photoshop is like going behind the scenes of the Pop-Ins (And with Volume 1, you actually do!)

The Cons:

Lance tends to over-simplify the Photoshop commands, and yet takes the long road. While he does point out that Ctrl-T (Command-T) are keyboard shortcuts, he uses the mouse click Edit – Free Transform route instead. Carpal Tunnel, anyone?

A lot of screen time is wasted in teaching Photoshop basics, instead of getting into the meat of the video. In the time spent with redundant explanations (such as how to create a new file) I cannot help but feel we would be better served by having a fifth project included.

Missing files. The mini-CD ROM included with volume 1 is missing a referred to stone pattern. Also, it would have been nice to have the referenced styles that were used to create the final project.

Volume 2 does not have a CD-ROM* at all, making it impossible to “follow along” (We learn by doing)

The Pros:

Production value is high. Unlike a lot of 'How To' videos that have been offered by young start-ups, this series is shot well, lit well, and I was especially impressed with the clean screen shots from the PC laptop.

Lance is soft spoken and on target. His manner is not over the top and it's very easy to follow along on volume 1. In volume 2, he does manage to pick up the pace about halfway through, using shortcuts instead of longer mouse routes. (And no, my intention is not to rhyme)

I've been using Photoshop since version 3, and Corel PhotoPaint Version 3 & 5 before that. Admittedly, I have a basic understanding of layers and I've been able to “get along” but I'm certainly no expert – at least Adobe ain't gonna be calling upon me for future upgrade input. I was pleased to learn a few new techniques using Masks and Alpha channels that I've always struggled with in the past. Lance really makes it look so easy.

For the neophyte videographer, who has continually heard that they “need” Photoshop to create professional graphics for video, yet have not the first clue what Photoshop is, or what to do with it, this series is perfect! After speaking with one such Photoshop newbie, it was dead on. He was amazed at what he could accomplish with Photoshop, and he's never even heard of a jpeg let alone what PS can do.

The Content

Volume 1

There are 4 projects, each step by step. Pictured here are two final versions of one project that is included on the CD-ROM. The PixelPops version and the one I played with.



Again, the one thing that I appreciate is the ability to be able to diversify, and make the final graphic my own.




This was the final project on volume 1, and the pattern and style used for the stone tablet were not included on the CD-ROM, making the output vastly different from what was intended.


Volume 2

While each of the 4 projects are beneficial if somewhat difficult to follow without the data files*, I found the DVD project to be the most enlightening.

The DVD project gets into the use of Layer Sets and how they can effectively be used in the creation of a DVD interface. And Lance frequently refers to techniques discussed more fully on volume 1 – In other words, volume 2 is just that: The second in a series. This is nice in that we are not constantly being pandered to, that we have viewed and learned from volume 1.

Lance’s coverage of Adjustment Layers is awesome, and unleashes a world of possibilities to the free spirit within.

Cow Rating:

Volume 1: 4.5 Cows --

Volume 2: 4 Cows --
In a nutshell, these two volumes are an excellent start to a series that has a lot of promise. For the neophyte who has never really used Photoshop, this series is an investment that will get you up and running quickly, creating graphics that will make you look like an experienced Photoshop user. For those who have been using Photoshop for awhile, this is still a good refresher and inspirational resource.

I can't wait to see what’s next from the PixelMonkeys!


*Update: Since the writing of this review, Lance has announced that the files used on volume 2 are now available for download at www.pixelpops.com



David Chandler-Gick
Backyard Productions / Dynamic Media Group
Creative Cow Event Video Forum Host



Article © 2003 by David Chandler-Gick. This Publication © 2003 David Chandler-Gick and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.




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