Airbrushes have always fascinated me, how they work and the photo-realistic look they produce. Years ago, BD (before digital), I bought a very nice Paasche double-action airbrush and spent several months trying to learn how to use it finally giving up in frustration. I put it away for a while and then found a wonderful school in Villa Park, Illinois, called “The School of Airbrush Arts”. I thought, “Well, why not enroll?”, so I paid my tuition and went back to school to learn something new.
Some Time Later
I came out with a diploma in airbrush illustration and photo retouching a year and a half later. Immediately I put it to good use, when I secured a job as the head airbrush retouching artist at a professional photo lab. Subsequently, I went to another professional lab, all the while improving my airbrushing abilities and skills.
The Digital Revolution
Next, the digital revolution happened and I found my hard learned skills were no longer needed because Photoshop had arrived and everything I knew about airbrush photo retouching could now be done digitally in a computer. Not to be done in, I set to work learning how to use this new image manipulation and editing program. At first, Photoshop totally overwhelmed me. Even in the beginning, it was so powerful I just didn’t know where to begin. So I sat down, focused, and decided I would learn how to do one new thing in Photoshop every week.
Eventually I learned more and the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. All things quickly became easier because of what I had learned at the School of Airbrush Arts about photo retouching. Everything I knew still applied only I didn’t need gouache (opaque watercolor paint for the non-artists) to achieve my results anymore.
Now, after many years, my Photoshop techniques and skills have improved and I can say confidently I know a thing or two about digital retouching. So for what it’s worth, I am sharing some of my abilities with everyone out there in cyberland. How to replace a sky in an architectural exterior photo is below. I do this for my customers and it can really help improve the look and feel of an exterior image. Along with some other retouching tricks I have learned along the way.
Before – Raw, Unretouched Image with the Ugly Sky
After – New Sky and Photoshop
Believe it or not this is exactly the same image, after some digital magic.
Comments are welcome!
Footnote: Sadly, the School of Airbrush Arts did not survive the digital revolution and is no more.