It’s not Photoshop, dammit!

Steve MerrymanArt2 Comments

Today the Bloomsday folks unveiled the 2019 Bloomsday Poster. Yeah, they did a few other things, too. But the poster is what I focus on. Why, because it’s my poster, my concept, and my artwork.

This is the third in a series of four.

This is how I create this series:

  1. In late 2016, I assembled photo references for all four posters, and arranged them into a large group.
  2. I split the large image into fourths.
  3. For each poster, I take the segment for that year and use it as a basis for my sketch. Here’s the preliminary sketch for this year’s poster:
  4. Once the sketch is complete, I work in Corel Painter to establish a color palette and use that palette (mostly) to paint the image.
  5. I then incorporate the artwork into a layout file and send it to a local offset printer.

If my headline sounds a bit testy and defensive, it’s because I constantly have to explain that these aren’t photo manipulations, but honest to gosh digital paintings. It’s not Photoshopped images. It’s not filtered photos. It’s original art created by my hand, painted using digital tools.
I’m tired of hearing how digital art is somehow “not real art”, or that I’m just using photographs and “making them look like paintings”.

Uh… bullshit.

Yes, I use reference photos (photos that I’ve shot myself), as most realist artists do. I even do a little tracing at the outset because it helps speed the process. But after the initial sketch, it’s all painting, and even though my tools are digital, my methods and techniques are based on traditional oil painting processes.

I'm quite pleased with this year's poster. I was even able to sneak a family friend into the group, which will be a fun surprise.


Steve Merryman is a cranky old fart. He writes about things that make him tick, and things that tick him off. You may object to his views; you may think he's a moron; and you might wish to tell him so. In return he would remind you that his lack of concern for your feelings is only exceeded by his indifference to your opinions. Good day, Sir!

2 Comments on “It’s not Photoshop, dammit!”

  1. Outstanding artwork. I have always admired those with the talent for and the drive to create such work. Every once in a while I get an urge to purchase “stuff” for drawing, and give it a shot. I imagine it would end up looking like bad stick figures and don’t. I give myself karma points for NOT inflicting that upon the world.

    My bet: family friend is in upper right corner.

    1. Thanks, John!
      I’ve been doing art since I could hold a crayon and scribble on a wall. I’m a better artist than writer because my writing efforts tend to be more sporadic.

      This poster art took roughly 30 hours from sketches to final art.

      The family friend is the girl at the bottom in front. Originally I had planned for a guy in that spot, but it wasn’t working, so I found a great reference photo of her and swapped. She’s pretty thrilled to be the “star” of the poster.

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