What’s Next?

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In December of 2023, we saw the very last issue of Photoshop User, Scott Kelby’s long-running membership magazine. I first wrote a Hot Tips entry over ten years ago, and that lead to a few feature articles before finally landing my own monthly column. Even with that span, I was a relative newcomer, with many writers being around at the beginning.

Having not only the opportunity but the obligation to write every month kept me in the Photoshop game. Every new release, new feature, new technique saw me tinkering and exploring. It did get exhausting and stressful at times, but having a purpose is a great way to keep pushing forward.

Without the recurring demand, however, I admit I’m in a bit of a slump. So to get back in the swing of things, I have made some plans that I’ll share with you below.

First, let me revisit my interest in writing about Photoshop. In the mid 90s I got a job writing data-driven animation for a small startup. On my first day, the graphic design lead quit and the boss asked me if I could use Photoshop for illustration. I’d never even opened the app before, but I said “Sure!”

I immediately signed up for night classes and got hooked after the first session. But sitting in a 60-minute class twice a week wasn’t getting me what I needed, and certainly didn’t put me on good terms at work. So I spent all my free time looking for little projects and tasks. I’d bring these to class and by the end of the semester I was guest teaching.

Most of what I found online at the time was pretty basic. Then I found a forum that had a unique collection of people, led by Greg VanderHowen – a true Photoshop luminary. The forum was dedicated to learning about Photoshop, not by publishing tutorials but by engaging in problem solving. The basic formula was that someone would show up with a question and the community would find as many different ways to solve the problem as we could. It was called Photoshop Techniques. I have the mug.

When there weren’t questions, there were challenges. “The Council” was the central body of admins and moderators who also generally happened to be the most dedicated. We took it very seriously, and I still keep in touch with many of those friends. Some went on to work for Adobe (and at least one landed in the credits screen!).

During this time, we discovered our own ways of approaching education and teaching, most often through collaborative sharing and problem solving. Many of us relied on foundational knowledge, taking care to explain WHY a given technique or tool behaved the way it did. Some used that knowledge to drive amazing experiments, creating looks and reverse engineering effects long before they were popular. Certainly before you could hit a filter or ask a chatbot to create something.

My own teaching style comes from this era. I prefer to decompose tools and techniques and then build them back up so others can find their own variations. After all, I mean it when I say “Never let your tools get in the way of your art”!

That’s what I intend to do here: continue writing and sharing what I can. At the moment, I don’t have a serious plan to monetize my writing, but I am looking for opportunities to teach and write. I’ll explain more about that in another article.

For now, I plan to revisit a lot of my Photoshop Proving Ground content and update it. Since I’ve already been paid, it’s only fair to make most of it available for free. If you’re a KelbyOne member you can get the originals online, but you should check here since I will be refreshing the content to reflect current techniques, technology, and interfaces. When possible (and practical) I will try to make files available or point you to stock repositories so you can try things out on your own.

Through all of this, I will be on the lookout for new challenges and keeping up with industry news. One thing I couldn’t really do in my column was editorialize, but no such rules exist here. Look for more philosophical articles from time to time, as well as guest spots and blatant self promotion.

I’ve added a script to collect suggestions, too. If you think of something you’d like to see, whether it’s a technique or me blathering on about some topic or other, head to the Contact forms or find the User Feedback box on the lower right of many article pages. Problem solving is what got me into writing about Photoshop, so hit me up!

For now, I’m going to focus on getting content up regularly, and that means digging through my archives. I’m really looking forward to stretching out and expanding this blog, and you’re a huge part of why I do this – without readers, I don’t have anyone to write for. Let me know you’re out there, even if it’s just to say hi!

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