With the recent launch of, The Art of Dodge and Burn, I was excited to hear that the talented Krunoslav Stifter was the presenter in the third DVD of the High End Retouching series. He has always been a guy with tremendous amounts of knowledge and also a very good teacher. So this was a perfect continuation in the series with Krunoslav leading the way.
However, does it translate into a great DVD and is it worth your time and money? Also, how useful is it to you? After all, the price is $249, so you want to be sure you are really getting your money’s worth. I also want to be sure this review not only goes over the DVD, but really allows you to have your questions answered on how valuable it is as a consumer based on varying experience levels.
Often DVD’s are great in the trailer but sometimes don’t really showcase or teach very much. They just show without explaining on what is going on. It takes someone who is both knowledgeable and a great teacher to make a DVD like this work. There is so much misinformation out there that it is very important I recommend the right set of materials as I am putting my name behind it.
With that in mind, this will strictly be a review of the DVD, rather than an explanation of each section. This will allow me to emphasize the sheer quality and value of this DVD.
So who am I? My name is Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch. I am a full time high-end photo retoucher who specializes in editorial and commercial work. I previously did the official review for the second DVD in the series, “Beauty & Hair Retouching High End Techniques by Natalia Taffarel.”
The first thing that really caught my interest in the DVD was the trailer and table of contents, which are both shown above this review. Although the title is referring to the Art of Dodge and Burn, it seems that there is much more information presented! The DVD itself is 10 hours long and includes all the working files with the layers in tact for you to follow along with.
If you look under the ‘Sample Clips’ section above, you will see the video for the trailer. It shows an overview of what he goes over in the DVD. You can also see the table of contents above which gives you an detailed look about what to expect.
After getting a chance to see the entire DVD, I was pleasantly surprised. I had high expectations going into it. Not only did it meet them but it surprisingly exceeded them. It is quite hard to have that happen after all these years of looking at material. In the end, I also picked up a few things of my own that I was not aware of prior. It’s amazing how Photoshop can keep on surprising you after years of working with it. Since the second part of the series, I haven’t seen a DVD as good as this one.
The way Krunoslav presents his information is very clever. He designed it in a way where it’s not hard to follow along if you’re a novice, yet still very exciting even if you’re a seasoned professional. He always provides examples of what he goes over so it’s not a foreign concept when you hear it for the first time.
Another great aspect about the DVD is that he doesn’t only go over the techniques but also explains the range of use each technique can be put toward. Learning a technique on its own is useless if you don’t know exactly when and where to apply it. Krunoslav doesn’t just teach the techniques, but also expresses the principles about when and why to use each of them. The end result is that the information isn’t just applicable to just beauty or fashion but to anything at all!
Vocabulary and terminology is also very important to understand. He takes some time to go over these specific terms so you aren’t lost. Essentially, he makes sure you understand the basics before actually getting into retouching to help you follow along easily.
You can tell he doesn’t hold back in his knowledge. I am surprised it was simply called, The Art of Dodge and Burn. In reality, it should have been called, the Principles of Retouching, because he divulges so much information that you come out it with much more than you bargained for.
I’m sure you’ve sat through tutorials where it all goes over your head. As you keep watching, all you see is a cursor fly across the screen without understanding what is going on or what the presenter is pressing to be able to achieve the end result. This is not the case here. I’ve always said, that the magic of retouching goes beyond just understanding these tools but knowing when and how to apply them. He really delves into an important element, which are the preferences, setup, and keyboard shortcuts that really allow for optimal efficiency. Often, the reason why people have a hard time putting new techniques into motion is a lack of understanding what preferences to apply before going forward with them. With this DVD, he goes over all of it so you can follow along very easily.
What I appreciate, above all else, is the time he took to organize all the information presented, which makes it completely clear and very visually engaging. He doesn’t leave you guessing anywhere. For example, there was a section in the DVD that talks about keyboard shortcuts. He took into consideration what keyboard you have based on what part of the world you live in. Usually, when people talk about shortcuts, they will talk about mac or pc shortcuts options, but not the type of keyboard you have based on where you live. That’s just a small example of the level of detail that he goes into.
As you can tell by now, this DVD is strictly not just about dodging and burning, I would call this essential learning material for Photoshop in general. As you can see by the table of contents, it really does cover all your bases. Believe it or not, even the table of contents is like a teaser. For example, the sectioned titled, Brush Settings, is almost 30 minutes long with each second being squeezed with pertinent and comprehensive material.
You get to go inside his mind and go along with him as he goes through every step of the process. The DVD’s title undersells the entire curriculum of what it offers. Even though it goes over dodging and burning in complete detail, it also goes over his entire retouching workflow as a whole.
A fantastic aspect is that he includes optimal ways to assess perfect working conditions to get the best results from your image. Being able to express how to get great results is a very difficult thing to do as it encompasses all these unique elements that most people never explain.
How often should you step away from the screen?
How often should you be taking a break?
Are you setting up a plan of attack before actually retouching?
What is your posture like to gain optimal comfort when retouching?
How do you prevent eye strain during retouching?
Seeing first hand, these tips being put into words, is just an added bonus on why I really feel strongly about recommending this DVD to anyone. Because retouching is more physically strenuous than most people think, and they need a plan on how to become efficient and equally comfortable. You can’t put a price on these tips from someone who spends hours a day working in front of a computer. That is the other dimension I am referring to and there are a lot more things to be taken into consideration that he goes over.
In my opinion, you could use this DVD and have it replace one class entirely.
So regardless of how experienced you are, put down your ego and grab this DVD! You’ll be impressed and will learn something new. As I mentioned earlier, even I picked up a few new things that I was surprised I didn’t know.
Here are a few questions I received from others as I was reviewing the DVD:
Is he easy to follow?
I tried to follow the DVD in the eyes of both a professional and a beginner. I felt that with the information provided, it was relatively easy to follow regardless of your level of experience. If you ever do get stuck anywhere, remember that this is a DVD and you can always go back to it over and over again.
Is he clear?
The way Krunoslav teaches, clarity was the biggest strong point about the DVD. Although English is not his first language, he slows down and takes his time explaining every topic with examples.
Is it comprehensive?
It was more than comprehensive regarding the dodge and burn portion because it goes into more than that, which is reflected by the the topics in the table of contents. It’s safe to say, that if you’ve been stuck anywhere with dodging and burning effectively, it will answer every question you’ve had. Consider this an essential part of your training library.
What does the DVD include?
It includes over 10 hours worth tutorials and every single working file that the tutorials go over. This allows you to follow along perfectly.
How valuable is it (cost vs benefit ratio)?
With the cost being so low in relativity with the information being provided, it’s highly valuable. If you’re also a beginner, it could take place of an entire semester’s worth of knowledge.
Do professionals learn anything?
Yes, especially if you’re very artistic based. I find that in the realm of Photoshop and retouching in specific, we’re either very visual and artistically based or technically based. It’s rare you get both sides converging. It was very technical yet applicable to both sides. I learned a lot more than I bargained for. I can see that a majority of people will walk away with something useful that they can apply right away.
Does it clear up misinformation found on the internet?
Youtube and online tutorials have plenty of bad information. If you’ve been frustrated with dodging and burning, this will make sense of it all.
I could go on forever writing about the details of this DVD but I do not want to spoil it. At the end of this DVD you will have a better understanding of Photoshop, the tools provided, as well as the techniques and process of dodging and burning as a whole. It really demystifies all the bad information out there, and also accumulates all the good information into one source that you can revisit at any time. The information surpasses just dodging and burning and is an invaluable asset to your collection of knowledge. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this DVD. Krunoslav is a wealth of information and he will surprise you with what he has to offer. To say this is comprehensive is a little bit of an understatement, as grand as that claim seems.