PSDFan Extra

Meet Henk: Your New Design Role Model

Well hey there PSDFANs!

Today I’m going to introduce a PSDFAN community member to you who is doing seriously special things with his creative work. Prepare to be blown away.

Henk has been with us for a couple of months now, but after just 3 short weeks he was creating Photoshop work that I wasn’t capable of making for years! You’re going to love this story if:

  • You’re trying to improve your design work, but can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel
  • You aren’t sure if you’re capable of creating awesome designs
  • You don’t know exactly how to create better work in Photoshop
  • You like badass guys who break up fights and protect the innocent

Let Me Introduce Henk

Here’s a picture of Henk. He just turned 27, and is based in the Netherlands. He also has an ex military background and his name isn’t to be confused with ‘Hank’ (which I was guilty of at first!).

Henk uses his self defence skills (and massive stature) in his work as a bouncer. Whilst the rest of us are sharing our peaceful nights with each other in the forums, Henk is often returning from some lunatic threatening people with a gun, or trying to attack him. Proof designers don’t always fit the same mold!

How Henk Started Out

So how does an ex-military bouncer get into Photoshop design?

Like many of us, Henk started out in this crazy design business almost by accident. Here’s a post of his from back in November on our community forum.

“Well most of you already know I am just doing this photoshop work / hobby for just like 3 weeks now.

I started three weeks ago with an image I shot with my canon EOS 1000D, I was unhappy with the light in the picture and wanted to change this.

I ended up following tutorials, because, how did I know how to change light in this picture.
These tutorials (in this case from psdfan) were so addictive, I am doing it daily now for fun.

I don’t sell, I don’t work it is just basically a hobby I am doing way to much now.

I love it, and I think this is my way of letting out my fantasy.”

Soon Henk’s work started to get the attention of the other members, including our resident expert Eric Vasquez:

”I think it is really impressive what Henk has been able to achieve in such a short time. You’re like a design prodigy man! Your quest for knowledge is admirable and I have no doubt that if you stay the course you will be creating your own amazing compositions in no time.”

Henk originally started, like many of us, by digesting and recreating Photoshop tutorials. It’s certainly a great way to learn. Here are some of his tutorial recreations. Again, bear in mind this is 3 weeks into using Photoshop!.

It Wasn’t All Plain Sailing

Of course Henk’s early work wasn’t always perfect (whose is?). He had his fair share of difficulties, but the point is that he worked hard, and kept learning and evolving through this.

Here is one of his less successful pieces:

In Henk’s own words: ”Respect for the digital painters.” (Amen to that!).

Here’s another piece that didn’t quite come together:

I’m sure you can empathise with how tricky fire and water can be to work with in Photoshop!

However… Soon He Was Creating AWESOME Original Compositions

It was awesome to see Henk moving on from simply replicating our tutorials and start creating original designs.

In this piece, he uses a photo of his little nephew to place him in a fantasy setting. The image is intended as a sweet, very creative gift for the family.

After dozens of posts from other members (including myself) we helped Henk to improve some elements of blending and details within the piece. Here’s the final design:

Not bad for 3 weeks into Photoshop right? Personally it took me years of practice to get to this kind of level. Truly inspiring work.

The whole point is that Henk realises his work can always be better, more original, more refined. But that’s the point of design, or really any skill. The harder your practice, the faster your improve.

Some Words From Henk Himself

I wanted to quiz Henk on exactly how he improved so rapidly with his design work. I thought his story would help to inspire the rest of the community, and offer you guys some awesome tips. Here’s a little mini interview we did recently:

ME: You’ve shown a huge amount of improvement in your design work since starting out just a few weeks ago. What would you attribute your success to?

HENK: Well to be honest, and I know this sounds kinda cliché, but the main reason I gathered this experience is all thanks to Fanextra.

As the most members (the fairly active members) of Fanextra already know I was just playing around with different programs, because I wanted to edit just one image. I wanted to change something in the image, I believe it was something like making the skin more smooth, but for this change I needed some tutorial as I never worked with Photoshop or any other photo manipulation program before.

I looked up some great tutorials via Google, and before I knew it I ended up here.
And this is when I started to grow interest in Photoshop and learned lots of different techniques from many other experienced members in the Fanextra forum.

ME: Were there any particular tips/tricks that helped you along the way?

HENK: Well there wasn’t really a particular tip/trick that improved my skill in photo manipulation.

As a matter of fact the thing I learned most from are all the tutorials in Fanextra which I love to try and play around with.

This website just learned me the basics in the beginning, like what every icon and button in Photoshop does for your image or photo.

Once I finally learned the basics I started to understand how and what I had to do to achieve something in an image.

What I did do learned from was the video course “Take your design work to the next level”. This helped me a lot after understanding the basics in Photoshop, like choosing quality images, using little adjustments at the end of your designing to make it all blend together and not to ‘overshop’ it.

This taught me that even the smallest adjustments will improve the overall picture.

ME: What mistakes were you making initially that you’ve now rectified in your design work?

Well I made a lot of mistakes, but let’s say that “initially” means after I learned the Photoshop basics and before now.

I think that blending and the use of dodge/burn where my biggest failures.

You could say that the pictures I used where so poorly blended with the image you could perfectly say that this pasted image doesn’t originally fit in with the background.

Now I learned lots of tips and tricks how to blend in other images (I even blend in images that aren’t correctly coloured) and one of the reasons why my images blend in now is because of the use of dodge and burn (This way I can change the light on the image, so it fits with the light source in the background). And for anyone reading this and you have problems blending in images as well, try this tutorial.

ME: What would your single biggest tip be to aspiring designers looking to improve their work?

HENK: My single biggest tip, well there is always room for improvements that is something you should keep in the back of your head.

But I experienced sometimes a lack of imagination, the best way for me was to check out other artists their work.

This is also a good way to improve yourself by checking others and learning from them.

It is also a good idea to speak to them by any means (e-mail, forums, phone or whatever) and swap each others ideas and experience.

Also learn from tutorials, try them out and learn from every tip or trick you never used before (almost every tutorial has a refreshing way of working and every tutorial learned me something new).

So I think, if I read back what I just wrote, trying out different tutorials and having fun is the biggest tip in improving aspiring designers their work.

ME: Would you mind sharing your thoughts on the forums and perhaps how they have helped you?

HENK: Uhmm, I almost live on this forum, it is basically my second house haha.

Because Fanextra (Tom, Eric and all the other great members) taught me so much I wanted to give something back.

And what can I give more then sharing my experience and helping others to improve their work.

I am already doing this, and I plan to keep this going on.

I hope I inspire many beginning designers and I hope I can keep on helping others with their art.

Level Up Your Design Work Like Henk

I love Henk’s story as it’s a perfect example of how far you can evolve as a creative simply by putting in the right work.

Henk worked tirelessly, and was happy to make lots of mistakes along the way in order to improve.

Now he’s in a position where he’s already developing a fantastic eye for design and giving quality feedback to other aspiring creatives. This is within his first 2 months designing!

Do you have any questions for Henk? Please post any questions or comments below and we’d love to read them. I’m sure Henk would be more than happy to chat over his experiences learning design and help out all you aspiring creatives.

He promises not to drop kick you either ;) .

If you’re curious about the FanExtra forum, then we’d love for you to check it out. It’s a place where you can get unlimited feedback on your design work. Anything you’re struggling with, or specific pieces you’re working on, we have a dedicated team of experts here to help you work through it. Besides this, it’s just an incredibly fun place for creatives to hang out and chat. We’d love to see you in there.

Click here to join FanExtra and come say ‘hi’ in the forum

About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. Mireille D says:

    Beautiful story, Bravo Henk!

    • Henk Rensenbrink says:

      This indeed is a great story, can hardly believe this is about me haha :)

      • Tom Ross says:

        Haha. I still don’t think you realise how amazing some of your progress in the forums has been. Every good designer in there knows it took them at least a couple of years to get to your current standard. I was going through all kinds of trial and error in my design work for years.

        So happy to feature you here and hopefully inspire others in the community. :)

  2. Su Hall says:

    You have learned so fast! I wish I could. I have been at PS for 5 or 6 years. I’m no where near as good as you! Congratulations!


  3. Sadia says:

    Many Congrats Henk for getting featured. You are just an awesome Learner. If you are too quick at learning this, soon you will be standing with Tom Ross and having a name in digital design world. Wish you good luck.

    • Henk Rensenbrink says:

      Haha thanks Sadia, I do hope I will be going to an even profession as Tom, but I will only do it for fun and trying to inspire new designers :)

  4. Eric Vasquez says:

    Really well deserved Henk! Congrats on your first feature/interview! I agree that you have a great story and there is a lot that younger designers getting their start could learn from you. You’ve shown a tremendous amount of improvement in a very short time and your efforts haven’t been unnoticed. Keep up the good work my friend :)

    • Henk Rensenbrink says:

      haha thanks,
      darn I am getting way to much attention lol.
      Well I hope this article will inspire new designers, as that is exactly what I am trying to achieve.

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