After commenting on another great tutorial that Frank posted recently, I was left thinking that perhaps I've been too lukewarm about using tutorials in class. Both he and Skocko seem to use them to great effect with their classes. For me, I always thought that if I show the students 'the right way' to do something, I've robbed them of the possibility of figuring it out for themselves. I have used tutorials in my class, but I've tried to keep it limited.

However- I've discovered two things (and thank you to Frank and Skocko for helping me get here).

1) For certain things, especially when using technology, there is a right way to do things, and there's just no way around that. Sure you can 'discover' how to make an adjustment layer in photoshop, but its much more efficient if someone just shows you how. For example, I've used this tutorial on making an apple to help my students understand layering and selection in photoshop.

2) Not all tutorials are created equal. Some tutorials (like the apple) are prescriptive- they have a given outcome and are useful for the sort of outcome that I'd look for when I need to demonstrate the "right" way. Other tutorials are open-ended. They teach you how to do something, but what you do with it is up to you. These tutorials are great on a case by case basis for helping students find new directions in which to take their projects.

Consider me converted.

With that in mind, PSDTuts, has expanded into a whole new tutorial network worth checking out. For those of you working in meatspace, Smashing Magazine has a great list of 50 Clever Drawing Tutorials, including one of how to draw Marilyn Monroe (that would be...perscriptive)? After seeing a half dozen Monroe portraits of her at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Show this weekend, I'm sure this is a useful skill for all budding artists.


  1. Frank said...
    Thanks David.
    It is worth the dialogue and made me think if I use them too much.
    Does the "apple" tutorial for photoshop take the students a long time? I may need it next semester.
    Good work as always,
    dsgran said...
    The apple tutorial takes most students one 80 minute period... and sometimes a few extra minutes the next class.

    Oh, I wouldn't go second guessing yourself- we could re-convince each other all day ;)

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