Life Without Photoshop

Posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rob Hogg
Rob Hogg

What if Photoshop had never existed? Would our lives as designers be easier without the expectation of perfection or less progressive and frankly boring? There would certainly be fewer ridiculous requests such as “can you make the elephants look... happier?” or “that girl’s eyes are closed, please open them” (true stories from my years as a designer). Also, celebrities would have spots and cellulite given the camera never lies (happy days).

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Without image editing software we would rely on the art director to construct a concept with more care and attention to detail and the photographer to capture a near perfect shot. The photographer could enhance the image during development with masking, burning and combining photos. The final retouching could then be done by hand with paint, airbrushing etc. but at a far greater cost in time and money then we are used to today.

old photo

In fact image manipulation has existed in this form since around 1860 when photographers would physically cut-out and paste images back together creating new composites to then be re-shot.

This very odd looking family photo for instance where commercial photography studios used these techniques to add in missing family members.

Relying on the photographer to provide us with a finished shot is frankly unrealistic given the demands of today's clients. They need attention to detail and budgets are tighter than ever, so most images are finished, perfected and even created from scratch by a designer using Photoshop. Just this week I replaced a model's bright red inappropriate nail varnish with some nude nails I transplanted from a nice lady on Shutterstock. It was quite good fun, quick to do and rendered the image usable. That's what is great about Photoshop for 99% of designers 99% of the time. It's a tool for making our lives easier (which makes the designer happy), our images more beautiful (which makes the client happy) and our time more efficient (which makes my boss happy).

There are of course some brilliant artists who use Photoshop as their weapon of choice. Take for example the images below that where created from motorbike parts for the NEC Motorbike show using a mixture of photography, hand illustration and Photoshop.

NEC Motorcycle show illustration
MIA122 Bike Show A2 Poster

And these beautiful cover artworks which where created by artist Levente Szabo? for the 2016 BAFTAs depicting the nominees in Best Film category. Each was digitally drawn using superimposed images to re ect the theme of the 2016 BAFTA ‘Window to Another World’.

Bridge of spies
Bafta 2016 illustration

Levente shared some of his creative process with the design of the eventual winner - The Revenant.

Revenant Moodboard

I messaged a group of my ‘designer’ friends with the question “What would your life be like without Photoshop?” and received a variety of responses including “Ahhh, good old trusty Photoshop, the make-up of life - the best thing to ever have happened to designers” , “Love it, but I really hate that’s it’s not a secret”, “I’d never liked it - it’s just a quick photo touch-up service” and my favourite “Seriously, it’s Friday night - get a life”.

My sister, a designer of few words, merely sent this:

graphic design is my passion

I think I get her point.

Which leads us nicely on to talking about Photoshop in the wrong hands. Design could be one of the biggest industries that suffers from the “I’m not paying that! I’ll do it myself” syndrome. It’s understandable why people do it, especially small businesses with not much start-up budget. The problem is that the market is so in ltrated with nasty lea ets and adverts that someone inexperienced has thrown-up onto a page, it has actually become perfectly exceptable. I’ve even known a fairly well-established company swap their design agency for someone already working for them who “knows how to use Photoshop”. There’s no ne line between ‘knowing how to use Photoshop’ and being a designer, there’s a gaping chasm of many years of hard work, understanding of design fundamentals and more importantly - natural creativity and talent. You can’t replace that with a piece of software.

Without Photoshop or even a computer in fact, I know I could nd another way to create a logo. Perhaps using illustration/painting/collage/ photography or a physical 3D model. Because I am creative and that’s what makes me a designer, it’s not depicted by the software I can or cannot use.

Would the idea of perfection in our concepts, photos or artwork would still exist without Photoshop, yes it still would because clients, the design industry and society would eventually have demanded this level of perfection whether or not there was a tool to actually perform it.

Here at Miramar, Photoshop is very widely used from concept creation to photo enhancement/manipulation and website design visuals. However, it is just a tool to aid our jobs. If Photoshop had never existed we would still be here, a creative collection of designers, nding other ways to express our ideas and to realise our clients needs. We shouldn’t be worse designers without Photoshop, we would just have to go about things very differently.

To see what our design team have been creating in Photoshop over the last 12 months click here..........

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