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Colin Smith

Colin Smith
Photoshop Cafe

You seem to be fully devoted to Photoshop. What attracted you the most when you opened the Photoshop for the first time?

I think it was the ability to do realistic drop shadows that first got my attention. What a surprise when I found i could do way more.

You have worked with so many versions of Photoshop. What do you think of the gradual progress of the software?

I started on vs 2.5. 3.0 was a Godsend with the ability to add layers. Then in 4-5 there was a lot of emphasis on making things editable and easier to add effects. 5.5 - Was all about the web. 6.0 was a major upgrade, taking web and type to the next level. The big thing on 7.0 was OSX and XP native support. 7 has some really sweet productivity tools and is excellent for the digital photographer with things like the file browser, healing brush etc.
Where will it go from here? Hmm my guess is perhaps digital video and closer integration with after effects. I would really like to see Imageready integrated into Photoshop.

As a professional, what feature of the Photoshop you think unbeatable?

The biggest thing Photoshop has over the competition is excellent stability, flexibility and a huge feature-set. Also the fact that it is industry standard is very important, this way it ensures that there will always be an excellent support base around the product.

Tell us your opinion about Image Ready. Do you think it is one of the best gif animation software in the market?

I use Imageready for all my web related image preparation. There are probably better programs out there for animations, but I am not a huge fan of animated gifs anyway, I find them to be pretty annoying on a webpage a lot of the time, not to mention they really slow things down.

Do you think there is any serious competition to Photoshop?

There is competition from Paintshop Pro, Corel Photopaint and MS Image Composer. But Serious competition? I don't see anything coming close.

How much importance you give to third party plugins?

That all depends on what I'm doing. If I am creating artwork for fun I usually don't use any because I enjoy the challenge of figuring things out on my own. If I am working on a commercial project, then I will use whatever tools will help me to accomplish the results as quickly and easily as possible. There are some really useful plug ins from Extensis, Alienskin, AutoFX, Procreate and Andromeda. Also the plug in site has some good ones.

You have created an astonishing artwork with Photoshop. The minute details of that artwork are amazing. Can you tell us the concept behind that artwork?

Thanks. When I am working on a photorealistic image, I am looking for the little things that take an image from realistic to photorealistic. They are usually the small things like light reflections, overlapping shadows, textures and atmospheric effects. Sometime I will create a lot of layers to get the exact result I am looking for. The secret is to not try and finish the whole image in 1 sitting, but rather be patient and work on one section at a time.

Your tutorials are quite different from others. Again more towards minute details. Do you think a person should have fine art background to become Photoshop professional?

If you learn the software and try to understand how it works, you can produce almost any effect without resorting to painting it in. However an art background will never hurt. A developed eye is one of the greatest assets and with practice and patience anyone can develop an eye.

How was the experience of writing books on Photoshop?

Late nights and lots of coffee. Actually I have really enjoyed it, its a lot of work, but the results are worth it.

What is your basic approach while writing book?

I really enjoy teaching other people how to do what I do in plain English (Or whatever language the book is translated into). I could try to impress everyone with my knowledge, but that would be a very boring book to read. I personally hate books where the author rambles on about him/herself and you need a dictionary to read it.

Do you think writing really make you learn a lot?

Sometimes it does. You have to really understand how to do something yourself, before you try to teach it to others. Writing also causes me to explore features I may never look at unless I have to. We get set in the ways we do things and tend to ignore new features. The pain of change sometimes outweighs the connivence of a new feature. But when you are writing, its your responsibility as a teacher to explore the best way to accomplish a result. This means that you are constantly re-evaluating your techniques. In a nutshell, this is an excellent thing because it forces you to grow.

We have heard that running forum is a difficult job. What is your experience about photoshop café forum?

It can be a very difficult thing as its very time consuming. I am very lucky though with the cafe, and I think its very unique because I have 7 of the most awesome, tiresome, helpful and friendly Moderators on the planet! Because of this, it has attracted very cool people to the forum and everyone is just really nice and helpful. The jerks don't usually hang around long because we are just not impressed with all their baggage and we just want to get on with what we love and thats creating art.

You have won so any competitions. What was the best moment among those competitions?

I think when I won the guru award at Photoshop World in LA 2001. There were so many great entries and I really was surprised when they called my name.

Can we expect another great book on photoshop in near future?

Without a doubt and also expect a lot more interactive training. The CD project ( was a huge success and I had a blast shooting the videos.

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