I was also hesitant because I am not sure how advanced this class gets... I wanted to take the advanced lighting class with Sam Nielson, but I wasn't positive that my lack of Photoshop skills would not impede my learning.
SO! I took the intro to digital painting class with Andrew Hou and I watched the first lesson, completed the first assignment and watched some of the video feedback. I did the "self-taught" one, so I don't get feedback on my own work.
One thing you might like to know is that with the self-taught class you have access to like... 60 different critiques of people with all different types of art styles. So if you are like me and are not willing to spend the extra money, it's okay. Just take some time and look through the many critiques available.
So I started the first class today, and I handed in my first assignment (The ballerina at the end of this post). I started drawing with Mr. Hou while he was talking (I drew a very similar silhouette) and my first character ended up looking a whole lot like his!!!
I feel like I already knew this method of sketching (using many layers, multiplying the layers and building up the shapes). BUT! I do think that actually sitting down and doing this with another person talking you through it changes the subtle ways you approach photoshop sketching, and it is for this reason, I feel like the first class has helped me a lot.
I also feel a little more motivated to sketch directly into photoshop. I always used to do the scan/trace method. This is really unnecessary.... if anything, taking a pencil drawing and re-drawing it into photoshop from scratch (no tracing) is actually a nice way to refine characters. You can look at your original pencil sketch, draw the silhouette in photoshop and refine the silhouette to be more readable, more exaggerated, and tweak the drawing to be exactly the way you want. By not tracing the original sketch, you are looser and you may come up with something completely different than what you started with!
This first lesson only covered sketching. I think we are going over tone in the next one.
So far so good. I think I'm getting my money's worth!!!!
Here's my assignment I handed in... a simple sketch in photoshop (no tone except for the original silhouette, simple shadow and white to clean up the edges and add a bit of detail).