I’ve been a fan of Jessica Sprague since her days as a Contributing Editor with Creating Keepsakes magazine. Discovering her online class offerings in late 2009 was a revelation. I signed up for Type+Writer 2, followed by Brush*Abilities and Pen Tablet Basics for Scrapbookers. In the past four years, I’ve signed up for fourteen self-paced and instructor-led courses, along with countless projects and shorter tutorials.
There are so many things to like about Jessica’s classes. Her instructional design is solid. Course goals are clear before you register. Assignments build on one another to reinforce and strengthen new skills. Class materials include a mix of quality digi elements and freebies found online. (Learning her secrets on where to go for free fonts, brushes, and textures is worth the registration fee alone!)
In short, I believe the classes at JessicaSprague.com are worth every penny.
Tonight, I completed my last project in the self-paced class Digi: In Deep – Advanced Digital Scrapbooking. I’m a reasonably strong Photoshop user, and I’m not intimidated by the idea of creating a digital layout. What this class did for me, however, is give a chance to try a workflow different from my own. I found some things I’ve been doing the hard way. I love those moments where you find a tool or feature in Photoshop and smack yourself in the head: “Why didn’t I know about this sooner?!?”
So here’s a look back at the four “weeks” of lessons.
Lesson 1 had us creating complex shapes with vector drawing tools and the marquee tools. We used a simple round brush to created a scalloped border. We did a lot of work with clipping masks, and learned how to “hang” and “wrap” digital elements correctly. That was my big take-away: how to combine string and a tag and a title to duplicate a look that’s easy using paper supplies. Oh, and working with brush presets. The “spacing” field finally makes sense.
Lesson 2 involved more custom shapes and clipping masks. It also introduced shaping text and creating a custom shadow on a journaling card. My take-away was the shadowing technique and the Warp tool.
Lesson 3 introduced .PAT files, taught how to use type to create a photo mask, and included the steps to create digital vellum.
Lesson 4 is probably where I learned the most about streamlining workflow. I already use some of the hot-keys for common functions, but this lesson gave me a chance to work with ones I wasn’t familiar with. I played with the different methods of bringing digital elements into Photoshop, and learned which one works best for me. And as we worked with blending modes to create TTV borders, textured cardstock, and a sepia-tone photograph, I began to feel more comfortable with blending modes overall.
The class also included a Cre8ive Challenge following each lesson. They were a chance for more practice on the key skills, and resulted in a 6×6 album of quotations. Very fun … and effective!
Photoshop is a software package that reveals itself like a rosebud. Or, maybe an onion, if that sounds a little too frou-frou. Each time you use Photoshop, you peel back another layer to discover more tools and techniques. The more you use it, the more you learn. Digi: In Deep was a fun way to do just that.
Now I can’t wait to get started on Digi: In Deeper!