Welcome to my first blog post and FAQ! 

I am beginning this blog with a question I often get asked, what is photo manipulation? 

Photo manipulation has actually been around much longer than people would assume. Photo manipulation was even used as far back as the 19th Century on glass and tin. Photo manipulation is generally the process of combining 2 or more photographic (or other digital elements) to form a unique image. A photo manipulation can be as simple or as complicated as the artist wants it to be. Some digital artists can use use hundreds of photographic elements to create their artwork while others may choose to only use a few.

other terms for photo manipulation include: 

photo editing, photo composite, photo montage, photo collage.

How did you begin doing digital art?

To make a rather long story short, I began doing digital art after a serious car accident which left me with several injuries requiring surgery. During my recovery phase I wanted to do something to occupy my time. I had always been artistic but could no longer do tradtional types of artwork as it required being in certain positions for extended amounts of time. I was browsing artwork online one day when I discovered a site called Deviantart. I came across several photo manipulations and couldn't believe how beautiful they were and how this beauty could be achieved by the use of only photographs. From there, the rest is history as they say! 

What editing program do you use? Do you recommend a certain one?

I currently use Photoshop CS6, I initially began with Photoshop Elements 10. I reccomend people just starting out to begin with Elements as it has most of the functions of full Photoshop but will allow you to get familiarized with PS functions before moving onto a larger program. There is also free editing programs such as GIMP that has very similar functions to PS.

Why do you like photo manipulation over other art forms?

I actually love all art forms and I also do traditional art such as pencil, water color, oils ect. The reason I love photo manipulation is because it combines so many modalities. You can use photos either from stock or photos you take yourself, you can use 3d renders and digital painting. Because photo manipulation uses all of these resources, I have had the privilege of doing some really neat jobs. Some of the jobs I do include card decks, book and album covers, personal artworks as well as working with photographers and models all over the world.

Did you use tutorials to learn?

Suprisingly I did not use tutorials to learn, the reason is simple. As I mentioned before, I began with Photoshop Elements, most tutorials online use full Photoshop for instruction, when I tried following tutorials I found that I was getting rather confused by the differences in the 2 programs so I decided to just learn by trial and error. When I got PS6, I then began to do a lot of online tutorials. 

Do you have any reccomendations for tutorials? 

I do! I really like the site https://www.psdbox.com/ they have step by step video tutorials that guide you through the process of a full manipulation. They also have other helpful videos on specific things such as using layers and the pen tool. www.Deviantart.com also has a tutorial section where you can find great tutorials by other artists.

What inspires you?

Anything can really inspire me, from movies to nature. In the beginning my real inspiration came from seeing the beautiful pieces other artists created. The great thing about photo manipulation is that inpiration can come from just the photo stock itself. I often begin working on a model, removing the background and prepping and an idea will come to mind in the midst of doing that.

Are there downsides to doing photo manipulation vs other art forms? 

Yes and I will explain the down side of photo manipulation.

1). Stock-stock images are photographs taken by a photographer who then offers their photos for use in art or advertising. You can find stock images all over the web, some for free some for sale. You need to be VERY careful and read the terms of use for each stock image you use. Paid stock sites such as www.Shutterstock.com have liscencing agreements for images that vary in price depending on what you plan on doing with your artwork once complete. In fact, each paid stock site generally has slightly different TOU's so it is important to read them. 

There are many free stock resources, www.Deviantart.com is one of the best resources for stock but each stock provider has different rules as to what you can and can't do with their images. There are also free public domain stock sites such as www.Pixabay.com where you can find wonderful resources. Please note that "Google" is a search engine and not a place to take photos from, each image has an author. You can however choose filtering options at the top of google images when doing a search.

2.) Finding stock-often times you get an idea for an artwork and you go on a search for appropriate stock and come up empty handed. This can be frustrating for many artists. Luckily, if you have enough imagination you can sometimes create what you want using various stock photos.

3.) Cluttered computer-I litterally have thousands of stock images saved to my computer at this point. When making an artwork it can sometimes take me half an hour just to go through one folder and look at my options. It is a good idea when you being collecting stock to have them organized in folders so you know where to find things. Backing up your stock folders is also a good idea incase anything happens to your computer, your stock collection won't be lost.

Do you have anymore tips for artists who want to get started on photo manipulation?

My best tip would be to take it slowly and work on your artwork often. Practice is really the key here. Dont be afraid to try new things and explore your editing software capabilities.  Examine other artists that you admire, what I mean by this is look at their work and ask yourself what it is that you like about their work? Ask yourself how they may have achieved that effect or look and then go try to achieve that idea yourself. Lastly, it is also important to not compare yourself to others, we all learn and grow at different paces, be gentle with yourself and you will succeed.