Task: Photoshop Paths Self Portrait

Task Brief

Technical exercise to strengthen ability working with the Pen Tool, Bezier Curves and the Paths Palette in Adobe Photoshop.

Looking at the style of portraits by Julian Opie, create a self portrait in Adobe Photoshop, using only the above mentioned tools.

  • Pay attention to the Opie aesthetic
  • Portrait
  • A3
  • Similar colour palette

Creation Process

I began this process full of confidence, having spent the summer exploring Adobe Illustrator. Surely the tools work just the same, right?

It’s probably worth mentioning what tools I use while at home. I’ll be aiming to review my current set up very soon. I feel very comfortable working with the following 3 tools, but I founded researching what produces to buy for my level left me with more questions than answers. Perhaps I need to up my research skills, or there isn’t enough information out there that resonated with me.

  • Apple, Macbook Pro 15” (Mid 2014) 2.2GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB.
  • Apple, iPad Pro 10.5”
  • Wacom Intros Draw Pen Small Graphics Tablet
  • Coffee, black

The graphics tablet is great for working in small space, while the iPad works as a second monitor. Adobe tick a lot of boxes with CC. If you don’t know this feature already – when using Photoshop CC, download Adobe Preview to a iOS devise (currently unavailable on Android), connect via the same wifi network or old fashion cable and thats it. You’ve not got a second screen with the sole purpose of previewing your work. It may not sound a lot, but its a real time saver when working nose to pixel.

Arriving home with great excitement, thinking that I’d breeze through the task, I took a – terrible – selfie and drop it into Photoshop for reference. Of course this would be a trace exercise. Free handing something like this, at this stage? That’s many levels above my skills at the moment.

It only took a few moment to discover that I was well and truly out of my depth with the task at hand. I just wanted to run back to Adobe Illustrator, were I knew the task would be so easier. The tools and Layer, although similar, work slightly different between the two programs. Thankfully a workshop was being held the following day at uni. I continued to explore the tools a bit further that night and made a list of things I needed to gain from the workshop.

The workshop was prefect. It seemed like all of my questions – and more – were answered without me asking. The workshop started at a pace that didn’t increase or decease in the whole 3 hours, with every action carefully expand in such a way for everyone to grasp. My knowledge gained on Photoshop since joining Plymouth Uni easily outweighs years of Photoshop dabbling.

Round two…

I got home, again with excitement, but this time with a clearer understanding of how to complete the task. The next few hours lead to many mistakes and refinements, taking two clicks forward and one click back. It wasn’t long before I had a tangible piece of art on my screen, but I still had more layers to complete. It wasn’t too long after that, that I realised that my housemate had long gone to bed, and that I should probably do the same soon. I made a few notes and planned to complete my ‘to do’s’ in the morning.


The morning came, and I went, out the door to engagement other than finishing my work. I knew I’d be home by afternoon and the piece complete by evening. Throughout the day I keep looking at the image, making mental notes of things I like, didn’t and things that didn’t but worked. Once I got home I powered through the list and got ready for export. If I had more time, I would have like to have made the image longer. The original version ran to the middle of my chest, where as the finish piece ends at my shoulders; effectively going from a medium close up to a close up. There were too many texture and shades that had to be drawn in. With other deadlines approaching, the cut made sense.

Overall I’m really happy with the result and can see it’s uses far beyond a university set task. I’m happiest most with my progression in Photoshop over a short space of time. I’m still in disbelief just how much we’ve been taught since starting the course, and thing that I once believed to be very complex. With so much talent in the room already, if these technical exercises continue in this fashion, my classmate and I will produce some amazing works!

Me - Shorter.png

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