Book Review: Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle's book on digital art using Photoshop Elements

Book Title: Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements (includes a CD with Digital Design Elements)
Author: Susan Tuttle (See her blog)

Mixed media artist alert! If you have been wanting to use Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) to do mixed media art, but haven’t found the right book, this is the right book. Photoshop sounded like a great idea to me years ago, but I took the course twice and each time, within a week of the course, I had forgotten most of it. Sure, that has a lot more to do with my learning style than the teaching style, but there is so much to learn with Photoshop, and our examples were, well, practical. It was a course for business, not art. This is the course for art.

If you are scared of technology, Photoshop or Elements, you’ll be fine with this book. Right in the beginning, you are told what you need–and a graphics tablet is preferred– how to create a blank file, how to set resolutions, and all those confusing icons are explained, with pictures of the icon right along with it. Tuttle has crawled into the mindset of the fearful and writes from there. It’s comforting.

It’s also encouraging. Photos used in the book are also on the CD, so you can work along, step by step. Didn’t understand? There is no one rushing you along. You can flip back to the section that described the project or what you will be doing and start over.

Tuttle is also logical. It goes from easy to hard, but never to boring or preachy. Each project has a list of technical skills you’ll learn and actual tools necessary for the project.

What will you learn? Here’s a list of project from the book:

Manipulating Images (using techniques to aler one or two photos). Here you’ll learn how to create vignettes with color fill layers, color adjustments, designing with type and overlaying textures.

Painting & Drawing (applying brushwork and filters to mimic traditional art). In this chapter, you’ll learn making drawing with artistic filters including colored pencil and dry brush, replicating the look of traditional paintings–abstract, paint-rich look; tinted daguerreotypes; painterly, transparent layers. You’ll also be introduced to color fill layers and working with a photo.

Pasting Pieces (layering elements to create digital collages.) This is the mixed media artists dream–you’ll be merging transpaent layers, working with photo and lighting effects, creating collages, using a color brush tool and working with scrapbook kits to achieve the faded, 3-D look of a real scrapbook page.

Seamlessly Blending (merging images to create montage art). Mixed media gets more attention here with creating custom brushes, showing movement with blur effects; creating shadows with the burn tool, replacing part of a photo and adding gradient fill layers.

Altering Art (incorporating traditional art into digital works.) In addition to enhancing original art, you’ll learn how to use art as a background, deconstruct and reconstruct art and blending multiple layers of art.

Whether or not you use Photoshop, this step-by-step book uses real art and real art projects to help you get better. Just looking at the book to look at the great projects is worthwhile. It will inspire you to get busy.

Disclosure: I paid for this book, which I ordered through North Light Craft Books, the publisher.  I received no money or compensation of any kind to write this review.

-Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach. She is writing a book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art. It will be published in June of 2011.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle

  1. Thanks for this recommendation – have just ordered it online. I have been trying to teach myself about PSE, and bought a book or two, but this sounds more like what I really need.

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