Let’s be honest: being stuck at home in quarantine sucks. I was bored out of my mind… until, I started an awesome program called Startup Dojo, and began trying to figure out how I could use this time at home to level up. I have never been very good at self-learning, because I hadn’t done it before. So, I wanted to turn this summer into an opportunity to change that.
With the help of my Startup Dojo mentor, I set my sights on a new challenge. I have always been interested in graphic design, but never gotten the chance to really go deep and explore. I wanted to see if I could learn this awesome skill – in one week.
Step 1: Research
At the beginning, I didn’t really know where to start because this was all new to me. So, the first step was to scour the internet. With the help of my Startup Dojo mentor, I found a course on a site called Udemy. Udemy offers online courses for almost everything out there, and I was able to find one that required no experience whatsoever and was not too long with a length of 6 hrs. This was going to be my primary source of material.
Step 2: Setting Goals
My goal was to get to the end of the course, completing every assignment and lecture. I also set a goal to do a couple of project ideas I found online. If I was able to do both those objectives, I think that I had a sufficient understanding of photoshop, enough to say that I could use it as a skill in the future.
Step 3: Learning
I spent the first five days of my challenge going through and completing the Udemy course. It was extremely informative, and I was able to do all the assignments with a good understanding of each featured tool being used. I learned about the basic tools, like the brush and crop tool, as well as photoshop's file system, learning how to properly save an image as either a photoshop file or a normal image file(e.g jpg, png). I learned about layers as well as layer masks and adjustment layers. I finally learned about the filters, like the gaussian blur. I learned a lot from the course, but I wasn’t finished yet. I still wasn't completely fluent with many of the tools, and if I wanted to be able to use photoshop, I would need to master them.
I spent the last two days finding photoshop projects online and trying to replicate them with my own images. My goal was to use these projects as practice with the program’s tools, as well as learning about a new tool that I may not have known about. An example of a tool I learned was the noise filter tool. It allowed me to add small dots to my photo, making it look more grainy. I used this tool on a very dark blue background to create a starry night sky, with the noise representing the many stars. I was able to exercise my skills with layer masks and adjustment layers more, and found out a few tricks about them I did not know before.
In those last two days, I was able to practice with photoshop on more complicated projects, and I feel I came out with a bit more knowledge on the program that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
Step 5: Reflecting
Before I started this seven day period, I knew little to nothing about photoshop. Now I have an entire portfolio of awesome Photoshop projects, that I made!
Even more importantly, I now know how to teach myself new skills. I had never done a project like this before, so it was honestly, a bit of a steep learning curve. In hindsight, I made some silly mistakes when it comes to my approach to learning. But now, I know exactly what I need to improve. Who knows… Maybe I will learn my next skill in 5 days
Lessons Learned / Next Steps
Here are some things I have learned about learning
Build a Distraction Free Environment. When I was going through the course, I found I had a lot of distractions around me, and I am very easily distracted. By setting up a place without these distractions, I think I could have gotten to more resources and overall have increased my efficiency by a lot.
Get Familiar with the Software. As I learned photoshop, I realized that there were a lot of keyboard shortcuts that could speed up my workflow. So, I could have saved a lot of time if I had dedicated time at the beginning of this process, to just learn everything that I could about the software.
Address the Root Problem. Whenever I encountered a problem, I would brute force my way through it by trying every possible solution I could think of (i.e. completely restarting the project). I wasted a lot of time doing this. You know what they say, ”Work smarter, not harder”. Going forwards, I will focus on first finding the cause of my problem, then researching it, and finally implementing specific solutions.
Check out my website to see my entire portfolio :)