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Painter and Photoshop each have their own strengths. And I find using them together gives you a very powerful toolset that is hard to beat with any other combination of applications that I know of. If you've got Painter and Photoshop, you've got just about every tool you need to adjust, tweak, change pixels that is possible. I have a certain working methodology that I am going to describe to you in which each application is taking advantage of it's own strengths and I call it the Photoshop Sandwich with Painter in the Middle workflow. And what I find is by starting and ending in Photoshop and using Painter in the middle, that gives me the correct tools for the correct aspect of the job as I go through my workflow.
First of all, Photoshop is the first layer in the sandwich and this is where I do all of my image preparation. Things like resizing for intended output. Sometimes I do border treatments to images and it's important at the beginning rather then the end of the job, to add any additional border that you may want to add because if you have sizing requirements you would rather do the image at a 100% scale with that additional outset of the non-image area to work in for any ragged edged borders or painterly edge borders. Whatever they are, it's best to figure all that out at the beginning. So I do use Photoshop for just getting the image sized correctly. Secondly, the tonal and color adjustment. Photoshop is unparalleled when it comes to adjust color and tone. So I take advantage of Photoshop's world class tools for just that purpose in preparing my image.
And then finally if there is any retouching or compositing work that has to be done. Once again that's the domain of Photoshop and I really prefer to use it's tools. That's the first segment of my Photoshop sandwich with Painter in middle. Now let's look at the middle, which is Painter. OK, secondly now this is the middle part and to be honest this is where you are going spend the most time. Even though there is Photoshop on either end of job, Painter really is where the bulk of the work gets done and of course for expressive interpretation, creating brush work or applying brush work over a photograph, there is no better tool than Painter for that. The central expressive area of the workflow is by far the most critical and you take advantage of Painter's arsenal of expressive mark marking tools to do that.
So all of the brush work gets done in Painter. Any texture application that I want to apply, I use Painter's tools for that. As I mentioned if you are going to add a border when you do that in Photoshop then the border treatment that you may add to it, you'll do in Painter, but because you did the correct sizing in Photoshop earlier, you'll have that extra white blank space around the outside of your image to paint into, so that you have got that extra edge available to work with. So Painter let's you work with expressive mark making tools in a way that you can't do anywhere else.
And then for the third part of our sandwich, we go back to Photoshop and this is where I finalize the image. When you paint in Painter, you are mixing pixels and so sometimes some of the saturation of color gets a little dulled down because of that intermixing of color. So there are times where you are going to need to do some color correction. Just local tonal adjustments. Particularly in the world of portraiture, you can do some tricks in Photoshop to emphasize the subjects face and de-emphasize some of the non-subject areas of the image through various dodging and burning type techniques. And then finally I use Photoshop to do the final conversion of the image to the intended output profile. If you are working either with your own printer or with a commercial lab that prints out out your work, you need to be able to ship them the image in whatever their workflow dictates.
So a lot of times they want it in sRGB, or they want it in a Adobe RGB, but whatever it is, Photoshop is definitely the application to do all of that work in. So this Photoshop sandwich with Painter in the middle workflow, works very well for me. And I have taught it to a lot of people and many people I know now use it. I really encourage you to especially if you do have Photoshop and you are learning Painter or if you have Painter and you want to learn Photoshop. Together, they are just the best set of tools you could possibly have to do just about anything you want with pixels in the world of image making and expressive mark making.
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