Learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for Real

I use Photoshop just about daily, and have for quite a few years now. I’m familiar with many of the tools, and know how to get a lot of different results, but I’ve always felt like I’m not quite doing everything right — and that if I knew the program better it would help the work I do, so I signed up for a UCLA Extension Photoshop class, and decided to sign up for an Illustrator one, as well.

I’m taking these classes online, which has been an interesting experience — I do miss the camaraderie of the classroom and the real interaction with the teacher, and taking an online class requires a bit more self motivation than just showing up to class once a week since we’re supposed to be checking our class message boards frequently, participating and sharing our work in progress. So far, though, it’s going well, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot.

In the photoshop class, we’ve talked a lot about retouching and correcting photos, which I haven’t done much of before. Now I want to go back to my travel photos from last year and make them even better. We’re also working on creating layer masks, working in nondestructive ways, and creating interesting effects when compositing images.

One project we did was on photo retouching:

Before Retouching

Before Retouching

After retouching

After retouching

For another project, we had to bring together images, as well as use a gradient and creative text styles to create a brochure. I did it for a tour of Oxford, from photos I took there last year.


In my Illustrator class, we have been learning to use the shape and pen tools, and about combining shapes and paths. Our first project was creating a chess board and chess pieces — I decided to make mine little penguins.

Penguin Chess Set

Penguin Chess Set

Our next assignment was to trace logos with the pen tool and then distort the logos with the various transform tools. Here are some I did for the World Wildlife Federation logo.

WWF-LogoTracesSo far, the classes have been going well and I’ve been learning a lot with each assignment and through the great Adobe Classroom in a Book textbooks. I’ll post more of my projects as I complete my assignments.

4 Responses to “Learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for Real”

  1. Kelvin Kao says:

    Haha, I love the penguins!

  2. Francine says:

    I think I was going with cute bird-themed projects after the owl calendar :)

  3. Laura says:

    I’m jealous of all these classes you’re taking. :) I did take Photoshop a few years ago from UCLA Extension and it kicked my butt. It was a lot of work!

  4. Francine says:

    If you ever want to take one together, let me know :) I’m definitely glad that I was already comfortable with Photoshop before taking the class. It’s been great for enhancing my knowledge of the program, but would definitely be much tougher if it was my introduction to the program. It got pretty advanced pretty quickly.

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