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GarryP

Can anyone recommend this book for learning digital compositing with Affinity Photo?

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I would like to learn digital compositing (in general, but with Photo specifically) and have found a book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Science-Digital-Compositing-Techniques/dp/0123706386/ which seems to be highly recommended (9 reviews, all 5 stars) but I’m concerned that it might not be what I need.

I’m looking for a book that will take me through things like:
* How to “read” an image and understand how it was taken/produced and under which circumstances;
* How to better understand how an image is coloured and what I can do with it (and what I probably can’t);
* How to manipulate images so they go better together;
* What I need to understand and modify in an image before I start to integrate it with others;
* How to better understand the pros and cons of different techniques and when they should/shouldn’t be used.
I realise the above things are fairly ‘wishy-washy’ as requirements but I don’t really know what I need to learn.

There are plenty of articles and videos on the web about “how to do this” and “here’s a great trick” etc. but they are normally very specific to a certain image/result and I would like to learn the basics in general first – in a progressive manner building up my knowledge, rather than flitting here and there learning disparate techniques – before moving to more complex projects.
At the end of the day I would like to be able to look at an image and be able to say things like: “Okay, I’ll need to do this before I can use it”; or “Ah, they’ve done this with the image so I need to do this other thing”; or “Shame, I won’t be able to use that image because of so-and-so”.

Has anyone read this book and, if so, do you think it will be useful to me, and, would you recommend it for use with Affinity Photo?

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Thought I would bump this up the list - just the once - in case anyone missed it at the weekend and had some feedback.
(I don’t really want to pay £44 for a book and then find it doesn’t do what I need, especially since it’s more than 10 years old.)

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I looked at the link and that is a book for the Motion Picture industry. From your list of things you want to learn I figure you are looking at doing single 'still' images. If I read you correctly then I personally wouldn't bother with the book. I'd look for something else.

What I do when I am bored is look at an image and try to isolate different aspects of how it was made. I'll try to find out where the main light is coming from, is it a composite of studio shots cut tougher or did the photographer take a table and chair out to the woods and light it like that.

How would I do the same / similar image, even if I would never ever want or need to do so, is a great way to learn. I have learned a lot about lighting for photography by looking at paintings.


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Affinity Designer 1.7.3 | Affinity Photo 1.7.3 | Affinity Publisher 1.7.3 | Affinity Designer Beta 1.7.x.x | Affinity Photo Beta 1.7.x.x | Affinity Publisher Beta 1.8.0.499

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Thanks for the feedback Old Bruce.

One of my worries about the book was that it might be movie-oriented but then what is a movie but a sequence of still images? However, there may be other issues that I don’t know about. A quick read of the contents gives me the idea that it might not only be for movie-related stuff (even though the author is from the movie industry) but I can’t be sure as I don’t know what’s involved. One big problem is that I don’t know what I don’t know, so I don’t know what I don’t need to know. So many times have I read through a long article/tutorial and, at the end, thought: “Well, I already knew that. That was a waste of my time.”

The compositing work I want to do will be purely for my own interest/enjoyment and I’m not looking to get into that industry so I was hoping for something that would teach me the basics rather than me having to intuit things for myself and take the long way round. Although, maybe, it’s doing it the long way round that teaches you properly.

I’m still keeping an eye out for other possibilities so hopefully I’ll find something suitable.

If I could achieve something like these videos/images I’d be very happy, but I think they’ll be way out of my league for quite some time.


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Photoshop Creative is great magazine for learning this sort of stuff, haven't bought it in a while, might just be online now but they give away a lot of resources for following there tutorials, most are easy to adapt for Affinity Photo.

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Your bullet list mentions questions from very different areas, for instance

1. taking pictures (> photography > optics, color, light, aperture, time, focal length, focus)
2. digital (file) vs. analog (film) aspects (> density, pixel, resolution)
3. improving pictures (> hue, gamma, lightness, shadows, sharpness, contrast)
4. composing pictures (> selection, mask, blend modes)

You will not find any resource which covers all subjects in the way you might need information. As you say "I don't know what I don't know" also an author or the forum doesn't know what you know already, what is interesting useful or irrelevant for your needs.

The age of a book for the topics in 1. – 3. is not important because those questions are rather physics than software and therefore their basics didn't change over time.

About 1. you will find the a huge number of books, most of them written for laymen. Nowadays unfortunately many of them do describe the use of a special camera model – which isn't important to understand these subjects. Also, they occasionally like to mention design aspects although those are more likely to be questions of taste and therefore individually quite different (I don't mean that is not important but design covers subjects entirely independent from a particular technology) –>  So especially for 1. even an old book might contain the wanted subjects in a more compact and relevant way then those newer, modern, camera related books.

About 2.+ 3. I can recommend this book:

About 4. it seems useful to read in resources related to particular software because the tools and their way of use is relevant and may differ. Nevertheless even a book about film/movie making (as in your initial post) can help to understand the general idea & work of masks and even blend modes – though it would not teach you the mouse moves and menus of a specific software.

Finally I recommend to go to a public or university library to take a look into the books. In my experience the quality of such a book is directly related to the lengths of its register at its end: as more terms are mentioned there as more "serious" and rich of really relevant content is the book.


macOS 10.12.6,  Macbook Pro 15" + Eizo 24"

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While books are nice to own, they become outdated. 

I'd trawl through Youtube, Vimeo etc and find tutorials on what you actually want to do, you'll soon find the people who are concise with information and make to the point video's. 


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

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summersara: That’s definitely something I can look for in my local newsagents and supermarkets. I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere but nowhere near me has a good selection of computer-related magazines. I recently bought a copy of Wireframe, which is more about games, but maybe there are some general graphics tips in there too.

thomaso: Thanks for all of the advice. I have a lot to look into there, especially the books you mentioned. The “Workflow Handbook” has very good reviews but at nearly £60 is maybe a too bit pricey. The smaller (free) PDFs seem like more my level so I might start there and see how I go. Unfortunately the libraries in my area aren’t very large – city of nearly 300,000 people but total library floor space is probably no more than one five-a-side football pitch, maybe not even that – and they only have 15 image/photo books between them. As far as I can see, they’re mostly about photography and I don’t use a camera. Possibly something for me to learn but a lot of stuff I don’t need (choosing a good tripod, etc.) Anyway, thanks again for the advice. I’m sure I can find something to suit.

firstdefence: As I said in my initial post, videos – like those on YouTube – are great for showing how to specific things but I’d prefer to learn why I’m doing those things and, just as importantly, why I’m not doing other things that are similar. E.g. Why am I using an Overlay blend mode rather than a Screen blend mode. Or, how do I know why I should be using this way of selecting things rather than another way. Videos are great at telling you what, but they rarely tell you why, and even more rarely tell you why not something else. Also, I’m the sort of person who likes to have a book to hand which I can bookmark and annotate as I see fit. Difficult to do that with videos. Each to their own though.

Thanks to you all for your feedback.

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> The “Workflow Handbook” has very good reviews but at nearly £60 is maybe a too bit pricey.

Can you do a search for used books? I find it online in Germany as new for € 26 and used for € 18, so less than the half of £ 60.
For instance kennys.ie is an Irish bookstore with new & used books & with free shipping. I guess there will be some even more close to you.


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I try to keep my online purchasing to a minimum number of companies – for security/paranoia reasons – so I don’t give myself much choice when it comes to buying things online. I’ve just looked again at Amazon UK and the NEW paperback is £57.93 (dispatched from New York) but the NEW hardcover is only £19.43 with free UK delivery (dispatched from the UK).  I didn't expect the hardcover to be cheaper so I didn't check earlier.

There are two other new hardcover ones there for around £159 so I don’t know what the difference is. Maybe those are gold-plated.

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2 hours ago, GarryP said:

There are two other new hardcover ones there for around £159 so I don’t know what the difference is. Maybe those are gold-plated.

Could be out of print, therefore 'rare'.


MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012) Mac OS 10.12.6 || Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 10.14.5

Affinity Designer 1.7.3 | Affinity Photo 1.7.3 | Affinity Publisher 1.7.3 | Affinity Designer Beta 1.7.x.x | Affinity Photo Beta 1.7.x.x | Affinity Publisher Beta 1.8.0.499

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11 hours ago, GarryP said:

but the NEW hardcover is only £19.43 with free UK delivery (dispatched from the UK).  I didn't expect the hardcover to be cheaper so I didn't check earlier.

Often the hardcover is available some years before the paperback. So possibly the offer you found sets the price in relation to the age of the book, possibly thinking the paperback would be a newer edition and therefore more valuable. The £ 20 sounds good! Even if a newer edition will contain updates about various software (there is a chapter comparing RAW development in various tools) then the main and major info, the basics about image processing in general, are still valid.

  >  £159 (...) gold-plated. 

Such astronomical prices are available in Amazon here and there for out-of-print books. They are often (if not genuine antique books) set by any weird algorithm, not by a human decision. Sending a request to the shop may help to clarify the price.

Here's an example for a slim software book, 2009, out-of-print, seven offers: from € 22 up to 169 € ;)
 
https://www.amazon.de/gp/offer-listing/3211892117/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used
I was looking for this 4 years ago, then there was only 1 offer – for € 230 !


macOS 10.12.6,  Macbook Pro 15" + Eizo 24"

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17 hours ago, GarryP said:

If I could achieve something like these videos/images I’d be very happy, but I think they’ll be way out of my league for quite some time.

1552893795_Cananyonerecommendthisbookforlearningdigitalco_-https___forum.affinity.serif.com_index_php.jpg.343feba2605f0192eaf15398f4280c7f.jpg

Possibly not. The samples have all in common that they use • mask • blend mode • saturation. These are rather simple techniques in a way they create a non-real image and are less right & wrong, compared to visualizing reality, as one needs for pure improving (developing) a photo or RAW file. The difficulty in such an image might be more a matter of taste, look & feel (> design): To choose its elements, its sizes and positions (> composition) and decide their visual impression. When I think "I don't know what I don't know" and "why not (...)" it will not prevent me from creating an image in my mind, in front of my inner eye. Once I see it there then its making-of is easier... and feels less being limited to a technical understanding


macOS 10.12.6,  Macbook Pro 15" + Eizo 24"

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18 hours ago, GarryP said:

firstdefence: As I said in my initial post, videos – like those on YouTube – are great for showing how to specific things but I’d prefer to learn why I’m doing those things and, just as importantly, why I’m not doing other things that are similar. E.g. Why am I using an Overlay blend mode rather than a Screen blend mode.

Again, the internet is awash with this sort of information, as an example, this was posted not longer ago on here: https://photoblogstop.com/photoshop/photoshop-blend-modes-explained it gives great detail in relation to the blend modes and reading it gives a lot of insight, not only to the blend modes functions but their relationship with each other.

I'm afraid I have little time for books, I can find what I want and what explanations I need via the internet much faster than selecting a book and then browsing through it to refresh my memory or rekindle my understanding of a process.

The internet is one big library.


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials - FeedbackInstagram & Flickr

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Thanks for all of the extra advice everyone. I’m sure I’ll find something suitable.

Cheap book shops – the ones that sell remaindered items – are sometimes good places to look.
A while ago I got a brand new copy of “Type Idea Index” by Jim Krause, which has a recommended price of US$24.99, for just 99 pence. (And sometimes charity shops don’t know what they are selling.)

Also, if anyone is interested in internet book pricing, this podcast episode https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05w5d72 is quite interesting (regardless of the podcast name).

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