Try Being Your Own Test Subject for Photoshop Practice

Maybe you don't need any practice in Photoshop, maybe you do. Perhaps you're just looking to kill some time and create something fun, bizarre, hilarious, or something simply unlike anything you've ever done before.

No, I did not appear in any of these movies, though I wish I could claim such a feat. To be honest with you, the first time I ever altered a screenshot of a movie to put myself in it was simply something I did just to see if I actually could do it. There's a slight chance that a little bit of boredom was involved as well. What turned out to be a ridiculous little experiment ended up becoming a great lesson in Photoshop tools as well as gaining a greater understanding of lighting and color control.

Claiming my part in "Lawrence Of Arabia."

Terrorizing the seas in "Pirates Of The Caribbean."

I started playing with Photoshop CS2 back in 2005. At that time, some of the tools within the software weren't nearly as sophisticated as they are today in the current Creative Suite. But as Adobe kept adding tools and options, so grew my interest in mastering each of those tools. These silly little side projects ended up becoming some of my greatest achievements. Not because of the final results, no, but because of what I learned in the process of playing with different methods of masking, filtering, lighting adjustments, and a myriad of other processes.

In fact, before I started playing with these projects, I didn't really have a solid grasp of concepts such as layer masking, grouped masking, and smart objects. But due to the fact that the lighting in the shots of me is always different and that the coloration and tonality are different, I had to learn how to replicate ambient colors, how to adjust textures to match original formats, and even paint in shadows and highlights to match the lighting conditions of the original. In essence, it was a fully involved crash course on more advanced compositing and blending techniques. I learned, by far, more from these projects than I ever did from any Photoshop course I have ever taken.

Saving (or stealing from) the galaxy with Han Solo.

Looking out over Rohan, with Aragorn, in "Lord Of The Rings."

I can tell you this: it's a lot of fun. Granted, you might not have to ever put such involved processes to work in your own photography. But then, you just might. There are more than a few digital artists out there who go to some incredible lengths to create some beautifully out-of-this-world imagery. John Wilhelm, in particular, comes to my mind as one photographer who really has fun with his craft both in camera and afterwards. 

In essence, there really is no limit to what you can create. Sometimes, all it takes is letting your brain go nuts for a little bit and spend some time working on what may, in the moment, seem like a silly project. You never know what sorts of skills you'll gain while doing so, and you might just find a new passion for a different type of digital artistry. Photoshop is a massive collection of powerful tools, so if you have access to the software, don't be afraid to let yourself have some fun every once in a while creating something completely different from what you typically work on. Chances are you'll be rewarded for the effort in one way or another.

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3 Comments

Bruce Allen's picture

This is hilarious. The pirates of the Caribbean and star wars is so on point lol.

Rex Jones's picture

Haha, thanks man!

Tom Heinola's picture

Hah, looks great! And amazing advice, haven't seen anyone else point this out. I've done similar myself too and can agree that something as fun as this will definitely help to learn and improve your photoshop skills. What started as a joke between me and a friend ended up being really fun learning experience.