Want to become a Photoshop pro? Learn how YouTuber and Photoshop master Benny Productions grew his creative hobby into a thriving career.
Benny Productions – AKA Benny Van Valen – is an expert when it comes to photo editing, developing a YouTube channel, and creating high-quality content. Audiences all over the world are drawn to his incredible Photoshop skills, eye-catching digital artwork, and fun, engaging YouTube videos – and his work is as entertaining as it is mind-blowing.
Benny first started his YouTube channel as a place to post simple videos of his illustrations, sketches, and artwork. However, his YouTube career took off when he discovered the photo-editing program that made it all possible – Adobe Photoshop. Now, just a few years later, Benny is a Photoshop master, a world-renowned digital artist, and a rising YouTube star who’s amassed a massive 2.13 million YouTube subscribers and over 300K Instagram followers.
We sat down to chat with this talented artist and popular content creator to find out how he built his passion for creativity into a thriving online empire…
What’s your background, and how did you get into digital art?
Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved doing creative things – like drawing, painting, and playing music. My parents supported all the creative activities I did, and they gave me my first laptop. It was at this point that I started to get into digital art and content creation.
At first, I made short videos, recording myself doing whatever I felt like doing – it’s quite cringey looking back at it now! As time went by, I started developing my skills in video editing and photo editing. I launched my Benny Productions YouTube channel, usually just posting vlogs or sketches in my native language, Dutch. However, as soon as I discovered Adobe Photoshop, I was sold – I decided I was going to turn my channel into a Photoshop channel. I started growing on Instagram back in 2019, and in August, I officially launched my ‘new’ channel. Now, a few years later, I have over 2 million subscribers. But don’t worry, I’ve only just begun!
What inspires your work?
To this day, I’m still not entirely sure what inspires me, or, rather, what motivates me to work. Most of the time, an idea just pops into my head, and I start making things. However, I do usually base my artwork on a few specific themes – namely space, sci-fi, fantasy, and other popular movie genres.
My current style developed over time. Back when I started, it all looked quite generic. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it didn’t stand out. As time went by, I started experimenting more with light and night scenes. This is where my signature style was born: lighting and shadows. I would now define my work as colorful and flashy.
How did you become a YouTube Pro?
I had been making videos well before my Photoshop channel, so I already had some knowledge and experience when it came to making interesting, watchable videos. The one thing I had in mind when I started posting Photoshop-focused content on Benny Productions was, ‘’How do I keep people watching?’’ I never followed any tutorials, and I wasn’t taught anything about YouTube by anyone else. It all came to me as I was doing it. I knew Photoshop tutorials were already a thing, so I didn’t want to just do that – I wanted to make unique, entertaining Photoshop content instead. I was lucky to be the first to try this, and it paid off.
We love your edit race series! What inspired you to create it, and how do the videos work?
All the way back at the beginning of Benny Productions, I thought up the idea to do Photoshop battles with other artists I met along the way. A split-screen speed art format seemed the most effective way to do this, so I asked around to see if anyone might want to be involved – and many were interested!
Now the series has transformed into a much more epic event, where I and another digital artist fight for victory. There are a bunch of rules we have to follow – like what the artwork’s resolution needs to be, the ratio, and what images we’re allowed to use. The end results surprise me every time. Every episode is truly a new adventure.
You have such a strong connection with your followers – what are your top tips for growing and engaging with a digital audience?
It seems straightforward, but simply involving them in your content is a must! Ever since I started doing videos like ’Editing your photos’ and ’Realistified,’ my channel has grown rapidly. People love to be involved and feel like they’re part of a community. Giving people a chance to see their own photos or drawings being edited is a very special thing for them.
Which other YouTubers do you admire and why?
I’ve always been a big fan of Star Wars Theory. We help each other out every now and then, and he’s always been a role model for me. He’s one of the most dedicated creators I know, and he inspires me a lot. He also has a close connection with his audience. It seems a given, but most YouTubers don’t have this kind of relationship with their viewers. It’s something I strive for.
Tell us all about your new project, Microworlds! What is it, and how did it come about?
Microworlds started out as an impulsive, fun idea, and I simply wanted to give it a shot. Having seen similar 3D landscapes made in 3D software, I felt inspired to do the same in Photoshop. I was going to make tiny chunks of landscapes that capture the essence of that specific topic. To be honest, it’s just a project for fun. I never had a reason to do it other than enjoying the process, and I think that’s amazing. A lot of people feel the need for purpose when they create things, but sometimes that’s not necessary. If you ask me, creating for fun is the best way of creating.
How do you bring your microworlds to life?
How do your ideas get from your imagination to our screens? Tell us your secrets!
Where others may follow numerous steps in the process of making artwork, I don’t. Not at all. I simply have an idea, and go straight into photo editing, and then video editing. I don’t sketch, I don’t make storyboards, nothing. It all just happens for some reason. This is one of the main reasons I don’t make educational content. I skip steps other people would want to see. I don’t fully understand how I do things. It really just happens!
What programs, tools, or techniques do you use to create your work?
For photo editing, it’s Adobe Photoshop. I don’t have any plug-ins installed, I want to keep it clean and simple. For video editing, however, it’s a different story. Where many would use Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, I prefer Adobe After Effects. Yes, for full videos! This is highly unusual because After Effects isn’t made for video editing. It’s made for special effects and compositing. However, I love how many options it has and how unlimited it feels. It gives a look that Premiere Pro could never give. I use a few plug-ins, like Motion V3 for example, which helps me create smoother keyframes. Then there are plug-ins like Saber and Optical Flares from Video Copilot, which I use for extra effects to spice it up even more.
What’s the best thing about Envato Elements for creators like yourself?
I myself really enjoy the 3D section. Being able to choose your own angle is a game-changer. Besides, the amount of 3D assets available is simply insane. I don’t remember ever looking for something that Envato Elements ended up not having. I also think the video templates are great for YouTubers. I often use templates as a base and work from there. There’s endless cool stuff! Finally, the stock photos. On Envato Elements, I often find photos I can’t find on free stock websites. It’s definitely valuable.
What types of items do you use the most?
Stock photos are the items I most rely on. I’ve always really liked the wide range of Soldier stock photos. I never hesitated to use those in my artwork, as I can’t find them anywhere else. Some of my favorite artwork is made using these photos, such as this piece called Containing the Virus. The same goes for Knights. There’s loads of medieval stock photography, which I’m in love with. That’s why I decided to have an Edit Race dedicated to this theme.
What are your top tips for creating high-quality digital art?
I’d say don’t focus on what you can’t do, but instead use the tools you have and know in the best way possible. You don’t need to know Adobe Photoshop inside out. To be able to create killer artwork, all you need is to know the basics and go from there. Don’t be afraid to put time into it. If you’re willing to put in all the effort you can, anyone could create stunning artwork in Photoshop.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
I’ve had many crazy things happening over the course of the last two years. Starting with my 100K milestone on YouTube. Back then, it seemed like an impossible thing to reach. Of course, I never could have imagined that a year later, this number would literally be 10 times bigger!
I’ve had opportunities to work with great brands and great people, and to have fun in the process. If anything, I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve turned my biggest hobby into my full-time job. That, on its own, is the absolute most valuable thing to me.
What do you wish you could have told yourself when you were starting out? Any final words of wisdom for new creators?
Looking back at it, I wouldn’t know. It sounds cheesy, but the one thing I can tell you is don’t give up. At times it can be hard to keep going without instant results, but if you really have passion for what you do it will only be a matter of time. Share, collaborate, practice, and repeat. That’s the key.