Creating Again :)

I’ve been wanting to get back into photo manipulation for awhile now.  Having leveled up my painting skills, I’m interested in seeing how the two will combine.

I guess we’ll see.


“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” – Bob Ross

To My Sixteen Year Old Self,


To my sixteen year old self,

Don’t worry friend, it gets better.
Not easier, but better.
Not simpler, but better.

Once you stop focusing on everything that makes you angry and begin putting energy into what makes you happy.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find, the one thing you’ve been searching for all this time.

A little peace of mind.

What a find.
There I was, packing my worldly possessions when I began going through some old art stuff.  I found this gem stuck between a self portrait (omg I created that thing… smh) and a poster size rendition of a superhero based on myself.

This was from 2000.  I imagine it was a school project, because I can clearly remember my younger self firmly disliking collages (I felt it was cheating using other peoples work… Which is hilarious considering how much I enjoy creating Photograph Composites in Photoshop now :D), so I can only imagine this being a school assignment for my 10th grade art class.

I took a picture of the collage and decided to post it, but the picture wasn’t clear at all (camera phone), so instead of pulling out my real camera, I decided I’d play with some image adjustment layers in Photoshop and see if I couldn’t make the image more readable.


I did and after cropping it, I surely felt it was a step in the right direction, but I still wasn’t content.  Maybe part of this need to go farther was influenced by the fact about an hour later on a food break I realized I did not post anything yesterday, thus missing my first day all month.

:Shakes Angry Fist at the Sky:

So, I decided I’d play with some filters and see what would happen.


I settled on a texture filter (Filter>Filter Gallery>Texture>Texturizer) and played with the idea of erasing the borders of the original image, with my waterbrush brush I created the other day.


Well I couldn’t stop there…


Border was starting to disapear, but now I had this floating madness I needed to connect with everything else.


I began working up the shapes and volume.
But when I began adding outlines, to separate the different photographs from each other I saw a real difference.  I also painted over some of the letters with a bright white to make the sentences easier on the eyes.


Happy with how it was looking I saved it as a jpg (50% of it’s size) and then opened it back in Photoshop and added another texture filter to unify the whole image.


I ended up going back and lowing the settings on that filter, which helped it not look so Photoshopped, but the hand coming down from the clouds really felt flat and just stuck out to my eye.  So I did the squinty eye thing and just looked at the shapes, colors, and values.

That bottom right corner just stuck out as a dead zone, with the “Question Mark” floating by itself, disconnected from everything else.  So I began getting rid of the straight lines by adding more cloud like stuff that matched the angle of the arm coming down from the clouds, which seemed to bring everything together seamlessly.


After a couple hours of work, I brought my sixteen year old concept out of the dusty tombs of my cardboard high school portfolio and into the digital world of my wordpress blog.

*Side note – This is why I suck at packing.  I always managed to get suckered into taking a trip down memory lane and loose focus on the task at hand.  Luckily when I look at the collage, I feel like my younger self is giving me a thumbs up.  :)

All is well.
One more post and I beat my best record of 28 posts in one month.


“Stop with the labels… because we are not jam jars; we are extraordinary, different, wonderful people.”  – Caroline Casey

The False Mirror


My assignment last week was to use the tools and techniques we’ve been taught in our Computer Art class to make our own interpretation of a famous painting, I choose Rene Magritte’s The False Mirror.

Reference images

First thing I did was to bring both images into Photoshop and place one on-top of the other.  I placed the cloud layer on Multiple so I could position it.

I created a circle Marquee selection and filled it on another layer, so when I wanted to make a mask, I’d be starting off with a perfect circle.  Whenever I wanted that same size and shape selection, I could just Ctrl click that layer for that same selection.  It came in handy later.

Placing a Mask on the eye layer I used a Hard Edged Brush at 100% Opacity to Mask out the whole circle except for the pupil and that highlight/reflection.  Placing the cloud layer underneath it and removing the Multiply blend mode.

Using a Soft Edge Brush at about 25% Opacity I began bringing in the edges of the Mask closer in, I felt the Reflection was distracting, so I filled it in to see what it would look like.

I didn’t like the lack of reflection either, so I ended up using that layer with the circle on it to make a perfect circle selection of the original eye before the mask and copied the pupil.  I then rotated the pupil and then added a Mask to it to get rid of all the extra stuff I didn’t need.

Using that Soft Edged Brush to blend in/out those edges again.

Ended up moving the cloud layer around to find a more appealing position, then copied it and added it in front of the eye Layer to create some depth.  Using a Mask to delete all the blue sky and leave nothing but the clouds.


From there it was all about blending in the blue into the darker/green edges of the eye and painting in the rest of the foreground clouds.


“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”  -Leonardo da Vinci

Bad Hair Day


Final photo-composite I turned in last night.


Where we left off last time.


Last couple images I used for reference/compositing.


Adding in some background noise/elements to compliment and extend that blasting geo shapes in the bottom right corner.  I used several different geometric shaped Brushes slowly building up to this point.  I played with the Rotation and the Scattering of the Brushes to get a more random flow.  Simply undoing anything that didn’t look/feel right.


Adding more robotic/mechanical elements, using the same masking process as before.  Also, using Level and Curves Adjustment layers to match the look of everything else.


Here you can see I used the same pipes as I used toward the front of her head, simply Rotating and Scaling them on different layers until they created the depth I wanted.


Here I erased the solid line in the background that kept grabbing my eye and began working on merging the human and robotic elements of her head.  I used the Magic Wand tool to grab that cyborg face plate from the image (you can see I didn’t take a whole lot of time to select it and there are a bunch of holes in it.  Being lazy made more work for me later).

I used a mask (of course) to erase portions I didn’t want and you can see on the top of the circular portion that I started using the Clone Stamp tool to create the rest of the circular area.


Combination of Curves, Levels, Color Balance, and Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layers go the layer closer to the color of the rest of her head.


Using both the Paint Brush (on a low opacity) and the Clone Stamp tool I started filling the holes, giving it some depth, shadow, and some details.

I also started adding a contact shadow.


Continuing the process of adding to it.

Also used a Guass. Blur to soften the shadows (also putting the shadow layers Blend Mode to Multiply)

I used the Dodge tool to push the sides of her face up so it looks like the apparatus is digging into her head.


The last couple things I did were to darken that portion of the pipes coming out of her head at the bottom right.

Then I added a Curves, Levels, and Color Balance Adjustment layer to the whole image to try to unite the whole thing together.

This was quite the hefty experience for me, I didn’t get all the lighting to match, but I learned a bunch of cool new tricks using the adjustment layers.  All in all a great learning experience.


“Everything you can imagine is real.”  -Pablo Picasso

Composite WIP


Where I stopped the other day.


My reference images.  I’ll probably use some more, but here’s what I’ve used so far.


Like most of my composite work I started off with a general concept.  I wanted to be able to see inside her head and kind of make the most of what was already in the image (bandages, screaming/yelling).

So, first thing I did was get rid of the background.  I used the Magic Wand tool to select all the red in the background and delete it.  Then used a Mask and a Soft Edged Brush to get a clean edge around her face and body.  I like to throw a bright/saturated background color behind the image to ensure I get all the unnecessary image out.


I played around with a couple of cool abstract images I found via a Google search, but settled on this one.  I liked how it was fading from black to a lighter value towards the top and the glowing orbs felt right towards the top and the exposed head.  The image itself stopped around her nose/mouth, so I added two layers behind that background image.  The first was a all black layer, the second was a Gradient that went from black to a light gray.  I then adjusted all three layers until they looked united as one.


I spent a long time searching for an image of an exposed brain or cut open skull that was both big and the right angle, but couldn’t find anything I though fit.  Instead I searched for a robot brain image search and found a couple winners.  This one was rotated, scaled and then masked to match the curvature of her head.  I’ll probably still take away some of the space between the wires, but for now I just left it as is.


I selected parts of the first image of the robot head/brain and parts of the robot arm and moved them around until they matched the curvature of her head and otherwise just felt right.  Then I put the gears on-top to make it look mechanical.  You’ll see several images repeated, this was a mixture of several duplicate images and the Clone Stamp tool.  I used a Mask and a Soft Edged Brush to erase what I didn’t want and merged all the little pieces together.

I changed the image mode to CMYK and applied a Curves Adjustment layer to the stuff sticking out of her head and got rid of the blue and pushed it towards the Reds and Yellows.

The background/mid-ground image was the last thing I did.  I wasn’t sure why I did, but looking at it, I like the angles.  It seems to match the frustration/anger from the screaming woman.  and the lighter values match the lighting on the back of her head too.  I’ll keep it for now, but who knows what’ll happen next time.

I definitely want to create more depth in her robotic brain area and connect the backgrounds more fluidly, besides that, I might play around with some broken and floating glass on top of the black background in the bottom left of the image.

It’d be cool to hear what everything thinks is working, or if something stands out.  I’m still early in the process, but with only a couple days left, I’d like to have a clearer idea in my head of where I’m going.  Let me know what you guys think.


“There is something even more valuable to civilization than wisdom, and that is character.”  -H. L. Mencken

Sunset with Minimal


Not 100% happy with how it turned out.  I think I should have kept it all photographs or the painterly effect.  Either that or find a better way to blend the two together more seamlessly/naturally.  Regardless a learning experience it was.


“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”  -Albert Einstein

Science Blows Me Away



Reference Image


My assignment this week in my Computer Art class was to combine all my previous lessons along with the manipulation of text.  I began with taking a photo of an older man with a basket on his head and adding some adjustment layers to lower the saturation and give it that old photograph brown color.  Then I removed the background with mask.

Next, I added some text in the background using two custom brushes, one was a paragraph of text and the other was some math formulas.  I lowered the opacity of the brown text and set it behind the equations.


I ended up duplicated the old man three times and added different levels of the wind filter (Filters>Stylize>Wind) to give him that disintegrating/blowing away look.  I added a rectangle on the bottom right corner and then began removing it with an eraser and painting over it with a brush.  I also added some more text to the foreground and background of that lower right corner.


The last couple steps were composed of adding more text to the fore and background, using opacity and size to either push it back further, or bring it to the front.  Then I took a brush to that lower right corner again and began removing that hard edge and really get it to blend in with the rest of the image.


“If you can dream it, you can do it.”  –Walt Disney