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Somethings just shouldn’t be undone. There shouldn’t be a possibility of undoing this either. This is Photoshop’ Achilles Heel. According to me that is.

Photoshop is brilliant, isn’t it? How on earth did we all manage before? From an illustrator’s point of view, when Photoshop first arrived on the scene in the middle of the 90s it was a golden opportunity, an image making tool offering seemingly endless possibilities for creating media for printing services. The future was bright and full of promise. Now, fifteen-odd years later has all that potential been fulfilled? Some might say yes. I however have detected a fundamental flaw. In fairness it is not the fault of the software, but the way we creatives use it.

Can you guess what this Achilles heel is? To give you a clue, I found it such a colossal spanner in the works that in 2010 I abandoned Photoshop altogether. It was a tough decision, but has been working out great for me.

The problem

My problem with Photoshop is this: multiple undo. A whole history of being able to undo every decision you have made since you first opened up your document. What ostensibly seems like an extremely beneficial tool is, in fact, not. The long-term effect is that it makes your decision-making process sloppy. You never have to make a solid decision because you never have to stand by it. You can always undo it, redo, then undo it again, and again… And so it goes on.

My solution

I choose to use watercolor paint primarily because, unlike working with Photoshop, it is difficult to amend any errors. Anyone who has used watercolor paint will know that if you use a deep wash of cadmium red and then decide you actually wanted it green, then hard luck, you have to start again. This medium encourages precision; you have to be sure what you want and what you are going to do right from the start.

That’s not to say all is lost for Photoshop as this weakness could be fixed. For instance, Adobe could release two separate versions of the software, one for mice (with undo) and one for men (no undo). The Grecian armies used to burn their boats as soon as they arrived to do battle with an enemy, thereby encouraging an attitude of commitment to success – no going back. I believe my creative process has improved as a result of not being able to constantly edit what I’ve done.

What is your thoughts? Should we have an undo button or not?

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About the Author:
Daniel Mackie is an award winning illustrator. Recently winning “Best in Book” in the Creative Review illustration Annual 2011. Daniel’s illustrations have provided visual solutions to countless briefs. Daniel Mackie Started practicing in 1995. He is a trusted and respected illustrator who has worked globally in all area’s of the industry. Portfolio | Blog
  • Guest

    the undo is actually the only reason i use photoshop. I have an illness which makes my motor skills poorer than everyone else. My strokes (whether brush or pointed tool) are always uneven. Photoshop allows me to try over and over until I get it right.

  • tk

    if you don’t want to use the undo function,  you can limit undo times with changing your preference (Edit>Preferences>Performance>History&Cache, and change  History States number)
    I agree that drawing or editing without undo increases your skills and mind.

  • Heckel Max

    There always is the method of self control. If you decide you don’t want to use the undo button it’s very easy to do so.