Pixels, dimensions, layers, densities, vectors, masks, brushes, and filters; they all serve their own purposes. At first, everything is a confusing and intimidating blur. But once one learns how to use them all in tandem, it becomes an art. That was my goal, to learn the art. Just like all projects, I had to start somewhere. I began by downloading a program on my old pc called GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program). It had plenty of features similar to Adobe’s Photoshop, and its interface was just as overwhelming. I was almost dismayed enough to give up right after the download, but I didn’t want to quit before I even started.
So it was time to start learning, YouTube is and always will be my main source for tutorials, so it was the logical place to start. I typed “GIMP for beginners” into the search bar and hoped I would find something good. Next thing I knew I had watched ten hours of videos in the last three days. I just couldn’t stop. My lust for learning the program just wouldn’t stop growing. I was manipulating photos, and creating digital sketches of my own; it was truly something else. After a while I was confident enough to start displaying my pieces on Facebook—what a high schooler move I know. But I was getting plenty of positive feedback, so I persisted. It gave me motivation.
After a few months it was time for our high school’s annual pep-rally. This meant that someone from our class had to design a t-shirt for the event. It seemed like a better time than ever to truly put my skills to the test. So I made a shirt on my beat up laptop. After 4 hours of staring at a computer screen, I had finished, and it was a masterpiece. That basic .jpg file, 96kb in size, with a resolution of 960 × 558 pixels, was the pinnacle of my graphics carrier. My design ended up being the class’s shirt that year, and I never used GIMP again.
The next year, my senior year, I took photography. It was a class built around Photoshop. Much like GIMP, Photoshop is a powerful digital design program that’s been around for over twenty years. It was new, and again intimidating. With all the knowledge I picked up over the past year about digital photography, it wasn’t as hard as I thought to grasp. Eventually I knew Photoshop like the back of my hand; if my teacher didn’t have an answer to a question I had, I would look it up and have an answer for the both of us by the next day.
Today I have seven of the latest Adobe programs on my Mac, Photoshop being one of them. I’m working at Washington College’s Geographic Information Systems, at a position that’s tailored to my digital imagery skills. All that work, all that experience, and all of that lust to learn is now starting to pay dividends. It was all worth it. The lesson to be learned, don’t give up after the initial download. Don’t be intimidated; just persist. Persist until all that was set out to be achieved has been.
-The Shirt Final Draft