Photoshop Newbie
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Buying Photoshop
  -  Mac or PC? -  Using a Digital Tablet with Photoshop -  Photoshop Links

Buying Photoshop:

Photoshop costs somewhere around $600 for Mac and PC versions. The current upgrade price for Photoshop CS is approx. $165 for Mac and PC. You might wonder why Photoshop has such a considerable price—well, it is the graphics program that professionals prefer. If you have some Photoshop knowledge, you possess a definite marketable skill. If you are really keen on learning digital art (and perhaps have your eye on a career in digital art) then you are doing yourself a huge favor by choosing to go with Photoshop.

Photoshop users also have so many diverse sources of support. There is NAPP, a Photoshop-only organization, the Photoshop conventions, seminars, training videos, and multitude of Photoshop sites, and a kajillion Photoshop books! There is no other digital software program that can boast of even a fraction of this kind of support and devotion!

When I bought a recent Photoshop upgrade, I went to , and got a nice little discount. There are many retailers (like that sell Photoshop at a good price, and have special "discounts" that I don't find elsewhere. However, you may want to buy your copy of Photoshop directly from Adobe—they offer specials and discounts that I haven't found anywhere else as well.

If you know of someone who has a copy of Photoshop that they no longer want, you can buy it from them. Though, one thing is very important—you want to have them transfer ownership of Photoshop to you. (This is done through Adobe. Call them for more information.) Do not buy software from anyone who is unwilling to transfer ownership through Adobe. If they are unwilling to do this, beware! They probably plan on selling copies to other people, and you will all be sharing the same serial number. A very bad thing. And a waste of any money you spend!

Another way to go is with an educational version, which offers a substantial discount compared to the "regular" version of Photoshop. It is identical in every way to the "full" version of Photoshop, but is meant for students only. An educational version is also upgradable (or this is my understanding—check with Adobe to make sure). Some retailers specialize in selling such educational software.  Needless to say, you must be a student to get this software! Even if you are taking night classes, you should qualify as long as you have a student ID. The main thing to remember with educational versions is that they are not for professional use. They are for students, for nonprofit works. If you start selling your Photoshop skills in a professional context, it is no longer ethical to use the educational version of Photoshop. But the educational version is a great way to learn the program while you are an impoverished student!

Or, you can go with Photoshop LE, or Photoshop Elements 2. Both are excellent, offer many of the features of the "full" version of Photoshop, and have that familiar Photoshop interface. Photoshop LE is no longer available, but Elements is $99 or less. (You can probably still find LE on eBay for a substantial discount.) You can also get a free copy of Photoshop LE (or perhaps the original version of Elements) when you buy a Wacom digital tablet. Such a deal!

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Mac or PC for Photoshop.

Oh my. Why don't I discuss something less controversial, like politics or religion? But no... I had to bring it up, didn't I?

But it's simple, at least for me. Photoshop is pretty standard on Mac and PC. I know, I've used it on both systems. Except for a few keyboard shortcuts and some other relatively minor details, it's pretty much the same. Simple as that. It's what most of the Photoshop books I've read say as well. I'm just parroting the same information they will give you! 

Your decision on which platform to use has probably already been made. Whatever you are comfortable with now is probably going to be fine...for you. You have to work on the computer, you are paying for the computer. You have the final say about which platform you prefer!

I won't go into the other intricacies of the Mac vs. PC debate—other sites do it far better than I ever could. It is true that Photoshop is a unique program, and some say that Macs sometimes have an "edge" with Photoshop. This may or may not be true—it depends on the system, and the temperament of the user. In other words, the "human factor" is a huge part of it.

One thing I will mention, though—speaking from personal experience, raw speed in a computer isn't the most important thing all of the time. If a person prefers a certain OS ("Operating System", like Windows 98, Mac OS, Linux, etc.) then they will enjoy working on a computer running that OS—even if it runs a little slower than another computer which is running an OS that they don't like as much. I guess that's part of the "human factor" I brought up earlier. And it explains why some artists prefer working on a computer that may be a little slower or a little more expensive. They have decided that even through there are systems that are faster and cheaper, they are not worth it in the long run because their OS is sometimes frustrating, unstable, or does not give a very enjoyable working experience. And perhaps they've also decided that they don't save that much time (even if the computer is technically "faster") because of the unpleasantness (or instability) of the OS.

The bottom line is that Photoshop is a tool, and you are the artist. An artist should be comfortable with their tools. If working with Photoshop on a particular platform is more comfortable for you, why change?

As for me, I own both Mac and PC, and love both systems for different reasons. I couldn't live without my PC because there are certain programs that only run on it. And I discover that I am liking the latest Windows OS—Windows XP. It's got a lot of good things going for it. But I have to confess, I love my Macintosh computer. And Mac's latest OS, (OS X.3), is "the bomb"! It is an elegant and very stable OS. Running Photoshop on OS X is a very nice experience.

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Using a digital tablet with Photoshop:

Ever wonder how some Photoshop artists have such control over their images, and are able to create such detailed and intricate digital artwork? The secret for many Photoshop artists is the digital tablet. It connects to your computer's USB port, and can be used instead of a regular mouse. You use the stylus kind of like a pen, and "draw" your picture into Photoshop. It's much easier to draw on the computer with a tablet stylus than it is to draw with a regular computer mouse.

The Wacom Graphire 3 is the latest incarnation of this great graphics tablet. (If you are in Europe, you can get a great deal on a bundled Wacom tablet and Photoshop Elements 2!) Wacom is the brand that most digital artists recommend. There are other cheaper tablets out there, but usually they don't work very well, and are not worth the price. (For instance, you'll sometimes see the "Pablo" tablet at a slightly cheaper price. But in my opinion, it is inferior and clunky compared to the Wacom. Besides, it never would install properly on my PC, so I ended up returning it! What a hassle!)

The Graphire 3 digital tablet is priced within most budgets, and comes bundled with a "Lite" version of Photoshop. If you don't own any version of Photoshop yet, you might want to consider that you'll be getting a "freebie" version of Photoshop (Mac & PC) if you buy a Graphire! The Graphire 3 also comes with a two-button mouse, which works well on both Mac and PC platforms. (I get to do the "right-click" thing on my G4 Macintosh!) With my little Graphire tablet, I am able to draw just about anything I want into Photoshop, or into any other graphics program.

Of course, there are bigger and nicer Wacom digital tablets available as well, if you can afford one of them. (For instance, the Wacom Intuous 4x5 tablet is a little more expensive, but it comes with a free copy of Photoshop Elements!) Or, as I mentioned above, if you are in Europe, you can get a good deal on the Graphire and Photoshop Elements 2. (Why don't they offer this in the USA? Bummer!)

Even though the Graphire 3 is small and relatively inexpensive, many accomplished digital artists have created beautiful and sophisticated artwork with it. If the Graphire is all you can afford (and you're not alone in that regard!) don't feel that you are "settling" for a slightly inferior product. It's a fabulous tablet and will serve your digital art needs well.

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Photoshop Links

A few good links:

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Much thanks to W. Thompson, for the design of my email graphic!

Mad with Photoshop while High on Mac
Another custom design by W. Thompson, (an MCSE). He likes to tease me since I love to use Photoshop on my Mac! (He creates most of his graphic buttons in MSPaint, by the way. Very un-Photoshop of him!)

All images and graphics © J.R. Dunster 2001 - 2006

Last updated July 29, 2004

  NAPP member Graphics made with Photoshop 7 

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