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Master Digital Photo Manipulation with Prof. Sonya Shannon


Prerequisite courses/skills/other restrictions:

  • PMCG-422 Introduction to Photoshop
  • —OR—
  • PERMISSION FROM PROF. SONYA SHANNON to enroll with advanced standing when you present a portfolio of original work that clearly demonstrates intermediate-level Photoshop compositing/illustration skills.

  • Your own licensed copy of Adobe Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) (latest version: 23.4.2)

  • Good internet connection, zoom, and webcam
Teaser graphic for expert digital photo illustration with Master Artist Sonya Shannon.


This is an advanced Photoshop class with emphasis on compositing using Photoshop CC. Our focus is to build advanced visual and technical skills to create artwork and images that engage the viewer and clearly communicate complex ideas. Your grade is based on attendance and participation in class, presentation of homework assignments, and a final completed assignment to be reviewed during our last session. Class participation means sharing constructive criticism during review of others’ work and clearly explaining your aesthetic choices and technical processes when it is your turn.


This is an online class using Zoom, Google Drive and Canvas. You are required to be visible on video (camera ON / Start Video) for the duration of the course. Each session is recorded for later review. Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged.

Praise from Students

Transformation Oracle
"Sonya helped me define the creative focus of my thesis project at SVA. My background and thesis was in software development and Sonya and I worked together to demonstrate the results in an animated short. She was instrumental in developing the story, selecting the music, and directing the animation. Sonya was inspirational and easy to work with and I was very happy with the final results of our collaboration!"
Transformation Oracle
"Sonya was my teacher and advisor while I was in graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to have had such a knowledgeable and caring professor. I found Sonya to be most talented in the area of storytelling and helping me as a student hone in on the story I was trying to convey and how to storyboard my vision as clearly as I could possibly reach for as a student. She not only listened to what I wanted to say, she steered me to appropriate reading materials for both my ideas and to enrich my background in animation with books and personal prints from her career as an artist in the industry. Sonya was a completely involved teacher, who cared more about my understanding of ideas and from past animation history and movie makers who tell stories then mere techniques that usually are learned on the job. She knew that was what mattered, an education and ability to convey ideas and take critiques to improve upon your storytelling ability...This, more then a trade skill that most of us can pick up at work, especially considering most companies have proprietary software these days...has served me quite well in the working world of feature films. Thank you Sonya!"
Transformation Oracle
"I have very clear and lovely recollections of Sonya Shannon, my former Professor of Digital Art at Pratt Manhattan. She was an inspiring, patient and articulate teacher: a beautiful, gentle and kind spirited instructor. Sonya encouraged me to look into a program called Photoshop-to be released in the Fall of 1988. She touted the beauty of scanning in images, creating layers and playing around w/ varied opacities, toning, etc. I gave it a whirl and to this day, I still feel like a kid in a candy shop when exploring Photoshop. I fondly recollect Sonya's enthusiasm, direction and inspiration."
Transformation Oracle
"Sonya, I love you. I love your poise and calm demeanor even when faced with the most difficult and ignorant attitudes of others. Your sense of confidence and self-knowledge is carried off with such grace and style, and not a hint of indignation. That kind of courage and strength I find beautiful! You maintain a cheerful spirit of pride and perseverance, as you eagerly seek new and exciting endeavors to experience, and from which you can find some enlightenment. This is a great source of motivation and encouragement to others that may have lost their way or given up hope."

Click the image above to dive into the midst of an advanced Photoshop session with Sonya Shannon.


Throughout the semester we focus on visual storytelling, photo-illustration styles, composition, workflow, and original style.

  • Advanced Masking I & II: Pen & Paths, Hand-Painted Masks & Alpha Channels
  • Color: Digital cs. Print Color Spaces, Advanced Color Correction & Matching
  • Advanced Lighting I, II & III: Color Temperature & Mood, Hand-Painted Lighting, Day vs. Night Lighting, Realistic Cast Shadows, Realistic Reflections
  • Typography: Styles, Raster Effects, Vector Distortions for Custom Logos
  • Portraits: Retouching for Fashion & Beauty
  • World-Building I & II: Finding Your Unique Illustration Style


  • To support your creation of professional portfolio-worthy content
  • To nurture the development of your unique artistic method and signature style
  • To help you obtain professional knowledge and understanding of bitmap vs. object-oriented tools and techniques within Photoshop
  • To give you working comprehension of image formats and methods for print, web, video, and other digital applications
  • To assist you in determining your preferred tools and processes within Photoshop

More Praise

Transformation Oracle
"Sonya took out the ‘Terror’ that came with adapting to the new world of computers and its challenges. I am an artist. Sonya’s sensitivity for my specific needs to learn Adobe Photoshop and InDesign was a real advantage. One of her most outstanding assets is her willingness to adapt how she approaches tutoring each person individually. Sonya worked both with my husband and myself, and her instruction allowed for our two different styles of learning."
Transformation Oracle
"Sonya Shannon, my former Instructor of the 1st Computer Graphics class at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn back in 1990, was an inspiration to my career. A key leader in the digital field with commercial and feature film experience already during those times, Sonya has the skills as well as the foresight in the future of education, technology, digital art and other directions that were inconceivable. The most memorable quality I remember was her perception concerning the students. Sometimes she knows more about the students then they know themselves, by which I was taken back in a pleasant surprise. This insightful quality is rare and most helpful to me and Sonya was one of my key instructors & mentors prepared me for the new world of the Digital Age."
Transformation Oracle
"I started teaching as an adjunct at School of Visual Arts when Sonya was Faculty Advisor. She got me started on my college teaching career, hiring me based on my professional experience. Since then I have taught as an adjunct elsewhere and was eventually hired as a full time professor. Of all the many faculty I have worked with, Sonya stands out for her kindness, collaborative spirit, and true appreciation and respect for artists, art faculty and students."
Transformation Oracle
"Sonya is a great artist, animator and leader. She is responsible for my success in animation and directed my portfolio to Disney Feature Animation. A delight to work with, she is a fantastic creative collaborator and artist! I would not be where I am without her guidance, friendship and inspiration. I cannot recommend her highly enough!"
Transformation Oracle
"There are few teachers that you remember in your lifetime, but Sonya is one of them. I've had the pleasure of being her student as well as working with her at School of Visual Arts. Since I was changing my career at the same time attending grad school, she was the one person I could talk about the transition to. Her encouragement and understanding helped me complete my degree on time. She gave me the foundation I needed to step outside my comfort zone. I would never have accomplished such things as being a Systems Administrator, Senior Producer or my current position of Assistant Professor. I try to pattern my teaching style on what she taught me. I highly recommend Sonya Shannon."

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