B&W Fine Art Processing

The artistic thought and decision process – from start to end

B&W Fine Art Processing

The Artistic Thought And Decision Process

“I have several of your courses but I must say this is your best course yet” – Jorge Perez-Martinez

$ 69.95 USD



B&W Fine Art Processing for Artisan Pro users – Everything you should know about B&W fine art processing – but is rarely taught.


The goal of this video is to go beyond learning technical skills and instead teach and share universal artistic principles and techniques together with best practices. 

We do this by giving a detailed insight into the artistic thought and decision process and demonstrate all the practical steps to apply the principles while working on several photos from start to end. We also tried to avoid as much as possible technical Photoshop explanations.

The foundational principles and techniques we share in this video are important in developing your own personal voice and creating a unique work of art reflecting your personal voice, but they are often completely ignored in favor of quick tricks and easy hacks to only emulate great art.


  • A class on how the panel works
  • A class on all the features of the panel (extensively demonstrated in the free webinars on Youtube)
  • A class on how to create masks – but basic knowledge is recommended


The live B&W Fine Art processing for Artisan users Webinar held in June 2021 was received so well, that we’ve decided to create a video-only version of this class, available as of this moment as HD quality video tutorials recorded in a studio setting without an audience. And therefore even more extensive and detailed than the live classes.


If you wonder if this video is for you or if you have any other related questions then go to our FAQ or just scroll down this page.


The first testimonials are already in, just a week after the release of the video. Have a look what they say here. New testimonials will be added over time.


The goal of the creators of this video to not only describe and explain the artistic thought and decision process in a clear and concise way, but also to expedite and simplify this process without needing to go into technical distractions, was paramount. Therefore, the Artisan Pro X panel has been used for all practical demos in this video to focus on the artistic thought process and speed up the practical process without explaining the Artisan Pro panel.

For technical explanations related to either the use of the Artisan pro panel or Photoshop, there are a multitude of free tutorials on Youtube, including free webinars on the Artisan Pro panel features. The focus of this tutorial is on artistic and aesthetic principles and considerations to create a good, beautiful, and visually effective image.


  • Learn what the principles are of a great image and how to apply it in practice
  • Learn what creates beauty in images
  • Learn why B&W is more than just a personal preference but is also a rational choice
  • Learn the concept of moving away from reality to enhance aesthetics
  • Learn the high-level principles of creating visually striking and aesthetic images
  • Learn how to analyze and assess the RAW image correctly based on ‘hidden information’ that’s accessible through luminosity masks 
  • Learn to create an artistic concept based on the analysis following the Figure-Ground principle 
  • Learn how to evaluate the image-in-progress correctly and make the right artistic follow-up decisions 
  • Learn how to create the right contrasts in the right places: high selective contrast in the main subject (Figure) vs low contrast in (back)ground to draw attention to the main subject 
  • Learn that there’s more than just tonal contrast to draw the eye in and learn about contrasting depth dimensionalities to amplify the contrast effect
  • Learn how to avoid commonly made mistakes and ‘disrupt’ obvious and distracting linear or radial patterns in your image 
  • Learn how to create 3D depth and identify contrasting edges in flat images and the importance of that
  • Learn via a detailed demonstration how to find artistic inspirations and then transpose the design principles of the inspiration into your own work

All the above is demonstrated in-depth and very extensively using several photos, maps, tables, and PDF handouts.


Art is, for an important part, the result of the tireless effort in honing your skills to perfection and having a deep understanding of every step in the process you take and the skills you’re honing. While almost everyone focuses on sharpening their practical skills, only very few hone their artistic skills. They are often neglected in today’s practical photography teachings, in favor of technical skills and quick hacks.

This video tutorial focuses entirely on the artistic thought process and the decisions to consider and to make, based on universal principles during the creation process. Not so much how to do it but more why you should do it. 

The how is assumed to be already there or can easily be learned separately. The Artisan Pro panel that is used in this video to execute practically what has been decided artistically, is just a supporting tool that can be replaced by any other tool, software, or method. It is used only to not distract from the artistic process.


A 9-hour video tutorial that goes in-depth and in detail on the most important aspects of B&W fine art processing that are rarely highlighted. It demonstrates in-depth the artistic thought and decision process behind the creation of B&W fine art images, using universal high-level principles that define visually striking and beautiful images.


Even though this video is optimized for and specifically targeted at users of the B&W Artisan Pro panel, it is also valuable and contains a wealth of information for users with only Photoshop or other photo editing software. The emphasis is on the artistic thought and decision process and the high-level principles it’s based on. The process and high-level principles demonstrated in this video are universal and platform and software independent, and can be technically executed with Photoshop only. The target audience is therefore every photographer serious about fine art processing in Black and White who wants to express his/her own unique voice, based on a deeper understanding of creating visually striking and subtle images.


  • A 9-hour video in HD quality with HQ sound recorded in a studio environment.
  • A PDF presentation with an overview of the high-level principles, a route map with phases and steps for creating fine-art images, and a mapping of those phases and steps to Artisan pro and Photoshop features.
  • A table of contents in PDF format – Download PDF version here or scroll down this page to view it online
  • 2 high-res practice files



Price: $ 69.95 USD


9-hour video DOWNLOAD (NO DVD!)

Includes the 2 high-res TIF files to follow along the video


Emphasis on the Why not the How


Topics highlights

  • Learn what the principles are of a great image and how to apply it in practice
  • Learn what creates beauty in images
  • Learn why B&W is more than just a personal preference but is also a rational choice
  • Learn the concept of moving away from reality to enhance aesthetics
  • Learn the high-level principles of creating visually striking and aesthetic images
  • Learn how to analyze and assess the RAW image correctly based on ‘hidden information’ that’s accessible through luminosity masks
  • Learn to create an artistic concept based on the analysis following the Figure-Ground principle
  • Learn how to evaluate the image-in-progress correctly and make the right artistic follow-up decisions 
  • And much more …


Scroll down this page to see the showcase with examples of what you will learn in this video:

  • Image analysis based on Figure-Ground and other principles using depth maps and contrast maps.
  • Artistic inspiration – how to find and use it authentically.
  • Interrupting distracting linear patterns

Video Table of Contents


Examples Of What You Will Learn

Image analysis and visual design

Creating an image obviously starts in the field first but that’s just the ‘negative’ in the words of Ansel Adams. From there you have to make the image your own and express what you want to convey or really saw: creating the ‘print’ from the negative in the analog darkroom as it was described in the days of Adams. Now we call it the post-processing phase in the digital darkroom: in Photoshop.

But you don’t just start editing without an idea that matches what you want to convey. There’s a design, a vision, that reflects your artistic preferences.

In this video, you will learn how to analyze and ‘visually design’ an image based on the Figure-Ground Principle and other universal principles that will be explained in the video. And you will learn to see the value of creating ‘contrast maps’ and ‘depth maps’ before actually editing the image.

A scene from the video where I guide you through the visual design of the image based on the principles that are explained in the video. In this particular scene you see the ‘depth map’ to indicate how dark-light-dark transitions in the Ground will be.

After guiding you through the entire workflow we will end up with this image. All preceding steps before the end result are explained and demonstrated in detail.

This is one of the maps – call it visual roadmaps – that will play an important role in the video so you will always know where we are in the process of editing, what you are editing, why, and the recommended tools for it, as we go back and forth between map and image in photoshop.

Where to find artistic inspiration and how to use it in a personal way

Artistic inspiration can be found anywhere and can be used in several ways: by literally emulating the style, which I would not prefer, or by using elements out of a specific style and then adopt those style elements in your own personal way. The latter is what I did with the Chrysler Building photo.

In this video section, I explain where I found the inspiration for the visual design of the Chrysler building photo, what style elements I used and how I applied those to my own image. They were derived from universal art-deco style elements and more specifically from the famous Metropolis poster from the Fritz Lang movie. Hugh Ferriss, an architect and graphic designer from the same era, used similar style elements in his work. I don’t know and leave in the middle, who inspired who, but there are many similarities that can be used as inspiration.

The Chrysler Building photo leans heavily on Art-deco style elements. I demonstrate and explain how I came to that result.

The famous Metropolis photo. I explain what style elements I used for my own work.

Hugh Ferriss’s work, explained by me and how it is similar to the visual style of the Metropolis poster.

Various tips and what to look for in a good image

The use of the gradient tool isn’t as easy as most people think. Often it results in dark-light transitions that aren’t subtle and are distracting. If you can see how it’s done, you did it wrong.

In this section, I explain – among other topics – how to disrupt linear or radial patterns that give away what you did in post-processing and make it look poorly executed.

What to look for and how to look for it when critically assessing the adjustments applied to your photo. In many cases, linear or radial gradients aren’t subtle enough, but only a few will look that critically at their own work and know how to solve that. I demonstrate how to detect distracting patterns, and how to interrupt those patterns to make it look natural and subtle.

$ 69.95 USD


Frequently Asked Questions

  • I don’t have the Artisan Pro panel, do I need it?
    • Only if you want to make things easier to execute in practice. The tutorial is not about the panel or any other technique, it is about the artistic process. It is about seeing what most people fail to see. It is about considering what most people don’t consider to create an image that is beautiful and effective in drawing the viewer in. Of course, if you have the panel, you have the most important tools, optimized for the work at hand, right at your fingertips. It will make it easier but it can be replaced by any other software or method.
  • If I want to make practical use of the teachings in the video using the Artisan Pro panel, do I need to learn the panel first? It just looks very intimidating to me.
    • While starting out with the video I thought initially that it is recommended to learn the panel first. But in the process of making the video I became aware that I use the same few features over and over again in the same way, that in retrospect after 9 hours of recording the video, you can learn those few important features while watching the video. It’s the same sequence of simple steps that is repeated continuously that it becomes simple. You can explore the other features of the panel later on.
  • Will I also learn how to mask in the video?
    • No. Masking is an entirely different skill set. I’m only focusing on the artistic process and all aspects of creating artistic images. Not on technical matters. There are many free Youtube videos on masking and I have created a 5-hr Advanced Masking video that goes beyond anything you can find on the Internet. Note: there’s no such thing as the best masking method or magical trick, you won’t find these in my video, but you will find the most extensive and complete information on masking including a unique advanced method, in my video.
  • Why is it important to learn the artistic process, I’m already very experienced in photo editing?
    • Technical expertise is not the same as artistic expertise. Many have technical expertise, not many also have artistic knowledge. If you combine those, you will arrive at craftsmanship and perhaps at unique art. But to arrive at art you will need a bit more. See my article on this blog on that. The video aims to teach you what is important in the artistic process and what to consider. In other words: with technical expertise only you can do everything technically and can emulate everyone. With also artistic knowledge, you’re the one who will be emulated.
  • I have already followed workshops taught by Joel, is this class also beneficial for me?
    • Joel’s workshops, online but especially the classes that are in person, are necessarily more practically orientated with a lot of emphasis on in-the-field and hands-on exercises. The important theoretical part and the artistic thought process are mostly very condensed and brief as that suits the dynamics of a workshop more. In this class you will find the important teachings that Joel, or other instructors, don’t teach in a normal and interactive class. Consider it an essential (visual) textbook that a teacher only highlights in the classroom but that you have to read on your own to fully understand it.
  • I don’t see the subtitles, how do I turn it on (or off)?
    • This depends on the video player you’re using. Quick Time player doesn’t show the subtitles that are based on the .srt format that we’re using. If you want to access the subtitles then I would recommend to download the VLC player that is a free player. There are many other players that support the .srt subtitle format but VLC is the one I use myself. If you’ve stored the video files in the same folder as the .srt subtitle files, then just click on the video and the subtitles will be automatically loaded. You can then change the color, size, etc. of the subtitles and then also turn it off.



Just a quick email to say how much I really enjoyed watching your latest video tutorial, it was such incredible value in terms of what you have produced.

Having attended your webinar in June, your latest tutorial provided me with a greater understanding of the ‘why’ you are doing what you are doing and not just the “How’ to do it.

I found your discussion on artistic inspiration fascinating and enlightening and of course having the chance to see this in action with your own images was a pleasure as always.

Thank you for taking the time to produce such a detailed video and greatly appreciate the opportunity to continue my own journey through your own teachings and look forward to seeing your future work and tutorials

Best Regards

Jim, United Kingdom

Jim Scott


Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about Black and White photography and post-processing. Your tutorials and videos have cut my learning curve in half.

You get to the point. Others just show how to do it.  You don’t, you “explain why” and then show how to use your panels. By the way, your panels are the best for Black and White. Sophisticated in what they do, yet simple to use.

Keep up the good work.

Miguel A. Holguin

Mesa, Arizona, USA

Miguel Holguin


I have been watching your latest video course on The Artistic Process. It is fantastic! I have never seen a course with so much information and with explanations with such a level of detail. You really went overboard with this one, Joel. I have learned tons of information not only on the artistic process but on tips and tricks that you mention for how to deal with some difficult challenges. You held back no secrets at all!
During the live session we did not go into the full processing of the bridge photo. But here on the studio version of the course you cover absolutely your entire post processing edits as well as your thinking behind them. This is simply magnificent. I have several of your courses but I must say this is your best course yet. Thank you for making it.
Thank you!
Best regards – Jorge, USA
Jorge Perez-Martinez


Hi Joel,
just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your new video – From RAW to final image.
It was filled with a lot of great tricks and tips.
Made me slow down and take the time to really analyze the image.

It was a treat to watch you work and see how you approach different parts of the image.
I was never much for post-processing until I came across the artisan pro panel. Now I can’t stop, haha.

Thank you,

Matt Fimio, Canada

Matt Fimio



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