If you are unfamiliar with the work of Benjamin von Wong (previously), you have probably not read DIYP in the last few years. Ben creates epic, inspiring, larger than life art and now he released a set of video tutorials explaining how he works. But I am going too fast, let me take it from the start.
Von Wong has done some amazing work, but many of his first creations can be related to his crowd-funded trip to Europe. In this tutorial, Ben breaks down those photographs and explains his entire workflow on editing them. After watching this section of the tutorial, I can say that this alone is worth the package, as the amount of information that Ben fires while editing is incredible. If you know Ben, you know that the pace is pretty fast and expect a rate of about one tip per ten seconds.
But Ben does you one over and also includes two more sections: a Lightroom tutorial section and a Photoshop section. Both are critical for understanding how to optimize your workflow. Hit the jump to see the full review.
As I said, the tutorial is made from three different sections, and I am going to talk about each one:
This is where there is a breakdown process of working with Lightroom. If you are just starting out with Lightroom or if you don’t have a solid workflow concept in place yet, this part of the tutorial is something that you will absolutely love.
By today, I think I have seen tens of Lightroom videos (if not hundreds). I can say that this is a different kind of tutorial. A lot of tutorials are explaining how Lightroom works and what each of the buttons and sections do, and while they deliver the information they are not very engaging. Ben takes a different approach. Instead of explaining what Lightroom is, he takes you through his workflow. While this way of teaching does not tell you EVERYTHING about Lightroom, it tells you what you need to know, without all the boring stuff that no one uses anyways.
You would hear Ben say things like, those were the ones I use but click here and there, to find others that may be helpful for you”, yea, he says this, and this is a great example of his style. He tells you what he does but there is no binding
There are seven tutorials in this section:
- Intro to Lightroom – A summary of the subjects that will be covered in this collection of Lightroom tutorials. Sections detailing the way Von Wong uses Lightroom will be applicable to both novice and advanced Lightroom users.
- Lightroom workflow – Von Wong explains his Lightroom workflow from beginning to end. This description includes importing, culling, editing, and exporting, geared towards users already fairly comfortable using Lightroom, with a more in-depth look at the
- Lightroom Shortcuts – Learn why keyboard shortcuts are useful and how they can help improve your workflow. The shortcuts will be presented in three categories: important shortcuts to use in the Library tab, the Develop tab, and finally, general shortcut
- Develop Tab – An extended description of each of the photo editing functions in the Develop tab of Lightroom. Von Wong explains which functions he likes to use and his thought processes behind using each of them.
- Import to Lightroom – A guide to importing photos into a Lightroom catalogue. Learn additional skills such as how to import from multiple locations at once as well as how to import photos from another catalogue.
- Exporting from Lightroom – Von Wong covers how to export photos from Lightroom. He reveals the presets he uses to achieve optimal playback for Facebook, drafts for clients, watermarking, and full size images for cloud backups.
- Exporting to Photoshop – Covering a couple small details regarding exporting photos from Lightroom into Photoshop, such as editing as a smart object or a regular PSD file, as well as the main difference between TIF files and PSD files.
So you did not buy this tutorial for lightroom, right? Photoshop is where Ben really shines, and he shares a lot of his knowledge, A LOT! I would’ve probably paid the $150 for this section alone.
Again, Ben explains what he does and how he uses Photoshop, as opposed to going over each and every tool. The flow of the tutorial is kinda group based so photoshop tools that are usually used together are presented together. Even if they don’t “belong” to the same family. I found this approach refreshing and since it is workflow oriented it makes it easy to pick up things and have them connect in your head.
The other thing that was great for me is that Ben, being who he is, is giving a lot of focus to image alteration tools. So you will find a wide selection of tutorials explaining how (and sometimes why, which is even better) to enhance a photo.
- Intro to Photoshop – A quick, friendly introduction from Von Wong on what you’ll be learning in these Photoshop tutorials!
- Photoshop Customization – Von Wong reveals how he customizes his keyboard and Wacom tablet for use with his favorite tools in Photoshop. Learn why this customization is crucial for your comfort and for improving your workflow.
- Intro to Color Grading – Learn why color grading is important for defining the mood, theme, and composition of your image. Von Wong describes his four favourite color-grading tools – color layer, saturation, color balance, and curves – and how to use them
- Intro to Healing & Cloning – Von Wong discusses the main functions he uses for healing and cloning. Learn what the differences are between healing and cloning, as well as a look at the tools that are accessible to us.
- Intro to Layer Blending Modes – Learn what layer blending modes are and what effects they have on your images, as well as how they can help you enhance your final product. Texture layers, gradient maps, radial blur, and high-pass filters are discussed.
- Intro to Masking – Learn everything you need to know about layer masks in Photoshop: what they are, how to use them, how and when to use them effectively, and how masking can be applied to your workflow.
- Intro to Pen Tool – A detailed pen tool lesson to acquaint you with the pen tool and get you ready to practice with this Photoshop feature. Learn how this tool can be invaluable to your workflow once you’ve mastered its operation.
- Intro to Selection – Discuss the different tools and methods used to make selections in Photoshop. The four main selections tools that will be discussed are the quick select tool, pen tool, lasso tool, and channel masking.
- Brush Customization – Covering basic brush functions such as opacity and fill, brush customization, as well as hardness and softness. Von Wong discusses how he approaches each of these techniques and which keyboard shortcuts can be used.
- Channel Masking – Discover the channel masking tool in Photoshop. Though not the most flexible tool, channel masking can be employed for some complicated masking situations. Learn how the tool works, keyboard shortcuts, and situations ideal for this
- Frequency Retouch – Learn what the frequency separation technique is, how it works, when to use it, and how Von Wong uses it in a new way to give you the ability to transform a hard light into a soft light.
- High Pass – Discussing the high pass function in Photoshop. Learn the pitfalls of over-using or misusing the high pass function, as well as small tweaks you can employ to improve the performance of the tool.
- Liquify – Learn how to use the extremely intuitive liquify tool to easily and effectively to enhance your final image. Learn how to liquify without being destructive to your image as well as shortcuts to use with this tool.
- Quick Select Advanced – A detailed recap of the quick select tool in Photoshop. Take a look at situations in which this tool is the ideal function for the job and others where this tool isn’t the best choice.
- Color Grading – Von Wong demonstrates the practical use of color grading by applying it to his photo of the Underwater Realm before it has been color graded. This will show how the colors are affected by color grading an image.
Lastly, there are 5 tutorials that Ben calls Live Edits. And this is what they are. Ben edits a photo while chatting through the process and tying everything together. I did not watch them all yet, but the ones I did watch were a huge push to my understanding how to use Photoshop. A tutorial about the tools is great, but to actually see them being used live is a whole other experience.
It is probably not as god as being in the same room with Ben and peeking over his shoulder, while annoying him with questions, but it is the next best thing. While talking 60 miles an hour, Ben knows that we want to learn so he does a pretty good job at explaining what he does and why.
If you want to either have a go or to better understand what you saw in the tutorial, Ben includes 6 full PSDs that you can open and go over them layer by layer and pixel peep over every little detail.
There are 5 Live Edits:
Fire – A simple deconstruction of one of Von Wong’s iconic fire images of Andrey Das. Watch him discuss each layer of the edited image, the thought process behind the edits, the tools used, and watch a live edit to further understand the
Ballerina – An overview of the edits made to this ballerina image. Learn the thought process behind each step, a breakdown of the tools used, and watch a live edit to further understand how each step was executed.
Underwater Realm – A breakdown of the challenges presented in preparing, shooting, and editing Von Wong’s iconic Underwater Realm image. Review the layers of this image and learn what Photoshop techniques were used to bring all the elements of the image together
Chester – Von Wong discusses one of the most difficult images he has ever edited. This photo of professional retoucher Chester Van Bommel was not only an abstract, fantastical image, but was also put under tough scrutiny by Chester himself.
Cecilio – Using the steps reviewed in previous episodes, Von Wong brings to life an image that didn’t display its full potential straight out of the camera. Learn how Von Wong uses the tools of Photoshop to help perfect this image.
It would have been perfect if
So, by now you know that I am a big fan of the DVD and wholeheartedly recommend getting it. There one thing that I wish was integrated and it would have been perfect. There is an easy way to navigate between the videos, but there is no way to mark a video or to skip to different part of it. There are about 4 hours of tutorials in the DVD and the pace is so fast and information-packed that there is no way someone can take it all in one sit. So, it’s pen and paper for tracking your progress.
This is definitely a tutorial set you would want to get. The amount of information is amazing and the presentation is smooth and easy to digest, which is important when ingesting so much. The DVD costs $150 which I think is a steal. I would probably pay this just for the live edits even if there were no Lightroom and Photoshop sections. But hey! They’re there :) and are awesome!
[The Von Wong Retouching Tutorial, $150]
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