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Perfecting the art of Photoshop

Posted in:
Interviews, by Mark White
September 1, 2017

Brazil-based José Augusto Hykavy shares with us his artistic influences, his favourite tools and why practice makes perfect in Photoshop

José Augusto Hykavy is a perfectionist and clearly very ambitious. “Currently, my focus is graphic design, but I like motion graphics,” he tells us. “This is something I’d like to explore more.” In two years, José has amassed more than 35,000 Behance views, and is looking to work with even more clients in the future. We caught up with him to ask about his relationship with Photoshop.

Island Tank

When was it that you started to use Photoshop?

From an early age I was influenced by art through my father, who is a professor of arts. He used to do college work at home and I was always watching and helping. I always liked to draw and paint at school, and I was quite good at it. I first used Photoshop in 2009 when I took a technical course on the software, and from this moment, I began to explore and learn techniques and tools through tutorials on the internet just for fun. Four years later I started working as a freelancer.

A lot of your work has a very toned, 3D-inspired aspect to it. Do you incorporate 3D software?

They’re only Photoshop! No 3D software at all. I saw an isometric composition project from Fabio Araujo on Behance. I found it really interesting and decided to do my own, in two different compositions. At first, I wasn’t very confident that I could do it, but it looked good in the end. I used really basic Photoshop tools, such as the adjustment layers and masks, clipping layers and techniques that most people know.

Is there anyone else who influences your work?

Yellow Mello Studio, Lee Howell, Jack Usephot and Anil Saxena are some of my artists to reference when I’m making photomanipulations and retouching images. There are many talented artists and designers inside and outside of Brazil that I seek inspiration from. I believe that design should be pleasant to look at but at the same time striking; I like art that is creative and unique, and significant in some way to its audience or customers. In a world where so many people offer such similar products, artists must provide a different edge in order to create better first impressions. I want to draw attention with my work.

Tropical Paradise

What are your favourite Photoshop tools?

I love using a real mix of tools. Most often I use adjustment layers, masks and clipping masks to build my compositions, but the basic tools such as the Brush, Polygonal Lasso, Clone Stamp, Dodge and Burn are really useful. All tools and resources used in the right way are essential to the success of a project.

Do you sketch something out first or just dive in to Photoshop and start experimenting?

Sometimes I like to make sketches before starting my work because it facilitates the development of ideas, and it can give me a general idea of what the intentions of a piece should be; this might be essential for the job. The sketches are made in minutes though, avoiding any kind of commitment to stick to the sketch. I like to be flexible enough to make any kind of adjustment with the finished picture.

Village River

What makes a good composition?

An incredible composition depends on several factors. You need to know your tools, and how to work with colours, shadows and perspective, but it’s also important to understand how to merge elements as a whole. However, creativity, willingness and patience are important – time and dedication to work on the image until it’s perfect. One piece of advice I can give to beginners is to never stop learning, studying and working on new things. Practice makes perfect and becoming good at something never happens overnight. I guess my secret is that I’m never content with my work. I always want more; I strive to work harder and do better.

As a perfectionist, do you have a favourite piece you’ve created?

I don’t have a favourite, no! I adore all my work because I dedicate myself to it, but I do have a special fondness for my isometric images, because this is an area of design I’m passionate about. In my work, I like to do everything with great love and attention, and work on every detail for my client.

Have you had a good reaction from your work online?

I have, it’s been a great surprise to receive so many appreciations for my projects on Behance. I joined the site in 2014, and I didn’t have too many projects to start with. By 2015, I started receiving comments, appreciations and followers. Now I’m working on several pieces for clients, thanks to people reaching and finding me. Behance has definitely given me great visibility.