Just Like Looking at Clouds


I can tell when I feel like I’m not successfully moving forward in my art goals.  I tend to begin slacking off on the amount of work, waking up later in the day, and generally just end up bummed out.  Strangely, instead of taking action towards moving back on track, I do everything that moves me away from where I need to be… Strange indeed. [/introspection]

Regardless, I’m thankful that I decided to break my art funk and do something new and fresh, because afterwards I felt like I really leveled up, learned some new tricks/techniques, developed a new-cool process, and moved further in developing my new world for my story.

Moving forward.

I watched this cool tutorial for creating environment concept sketches many many moons ago and I’ve always intended to go back and follow along with it.  If you’ve seen some of my previous school work in photo-manipulation you’ll understand why this tutorial really appealed to me.  It basically paralleled perfectly with my own process, because it uses almost all of the tools I use on a consistent bases with photo-manipulation.


Using a variety of images, layers, blending modes, opacity settings, masks, filters and other tools.  You create a multitude of different shapes, colors, lines, spaces, etc that give an impression of a landscape, interior, cityscape…  These thumbnails are then used as a base to paint/sketch on, and eventually creating unique environments.

In the video, he uses this process to create these fantasy landscapes only, but the process is the same for other genres too.

It is worth noting that the video suggest using low res images and after my 30th save (ended up with around 80) or so I can tell you my computer started chugging because I save mostly larger reference images when I do my google searches.  Most of the images I used were actually images from my Blue Moon reference boards off of Pinterest, with a couple odd balls thrown in.


There is a ginormous amount of experimentation that the gif doesn’t come close to showing.  Sometimes it was a matter of choosing a single filter or blend mode and it seemed like I knew just where to put the image.  Other times it was me going through all of the possible options before decided on something or just trashing it and starting over or with another image entirely.  It was more trial and error than anything… sometimes I just immediately saw something and I just built that idea up.


Really fun and interesting process and because I was “Working Small” (I worked at 16.7% of the actual canvas size), I was able to focus on the shapes and colors and composition and not all the little details and “Learn Big.”  This is a screen shot of my work area in Photoshop and my canvas to screen (21.5″) ratio.


Again, this is just the beginning phase of the tutorial.  At about 10 mins in he begins to start painting over his thumbnails.  A really fascinating watch if this type of stuff interests you.

I am curious what people see in these thumbnails and which people like the most.  Pick a couple and let me know which you guys like the most or which stand out, or which aren’t really working.


“Imagination rules the world.”  – Napoleon Bonaparte

Done is Done


Ended up adding “God Rays” to the clouds in order to heighten the dramatic effect of the scene.  Placed a layer underneath everything else I’d done so far and filled it with white.  Placed a layer mask on the original image and using a soft edged Brush started erasing the original image away in small contained strokes.


“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

A Storm is Brewing


Grey scale to color (Total Colorization)
Computer Art Project


Beginning photograph, courtesy of Google search.


Using Photoshop

First thing I did was select the solid black color at the bottom with the Quick Selection tool, reversed the selection with Select>Inverse, and then added a Curves Adjustment layer.  This gave me a nice mask to work with.

I then began manipulating the colors until I got this warm reddish color.


The next thing I did was choose the Quick Selection tool again and made a second selection, this time choosing the sky behind the clouds.  I wasn’t overly concerned about getting a perfect selection in this step because I knew with the mask it creates, I could go in with a brush and fine tune the edges of the mask.  Which I began doing.


Here you can see the result of the fine tuning.  I was basically erasing the sky Curves Adjustment layer with the bright red.  This brought back the bright white from the original image, giving the clouds a nifty highlight to them.


I wanted the scene to be a warm red color, but I was unable to get the two Curve Adjustment layers to cool natural and still contrast.  So, I ended up going for a warm orangish color that I thought still looked natural.  Basically going back into both Curves Adjustment layers and tweaking the curves to get the right color.

I’m not too keen on which direction to move the curves to get the color I want, so it was more exploratory than anything.

I also added a Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer on top of everything to get a more even color across the whole image.  Trying to unify it more.


I added a Levels Adjustment layer under the Hue and Saturation layer to brighten the image up a bit, it was looking a bit dark and I wanted those holes in the clouds to really pour in bright light.  My teacher suggested using another image and introducing rays of light slipping through the holes in the clouds, that’ll be my next step.


“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. ”  -Mike Murdock

Reflection in Progress


Retaking Computer Art class seeing as I didn’t finish last semester.  Our first assignment is just to use the either Photoshop or Gimp to create computer art, no specifications other than to do our best and try to impress the teacher.  I decided to go with my photo-manipulation style I enjoy so much, this time though, I’m using the mixer brush to blend the elements together to give it a more painterly feel.


I had this idea of a forest growing out of someones hair (original inspiration is from one of mom’s charcoal pieces), searched through my reference images and found this guy.  I found a picture of silhouetted trees online and used a Quick Mask (and an odd shaped brush at 100% opacity) to get rid of the background (also selected the layer afterward and went over everything with a black).

Rotating and enlarging/shrinking the trees using the Transform Tool (ensuring to duplicate the masked tree image using the “Ctrl + J” shortcut to preserve the original).

Created the layer behind him and roughly painted in the background using the Eyedropper Tool to select the colors from the image.


Getting the feel of the balance of the trees (more the weight of the color against the rest of the canvas than anything).  I also started using the Perspective option of the Transform Tool to align the trees just so.

You can see my use of the Mixer Brush to start blending the hard edges of the colors I painted in the background together.


The grey color extending up to the top of the image was the last thing I did.  I noticed after I saved it that the black was weighing the image too heavily on the top half so I brought that little grey strip from the original image up using the Eyedropper to select the color and brush to paint it in.

I noticed too that the grey line also pushes all the dark trees into the mid/background with his hat and pulls the focal point (his face) back into the foreground.

Win win.


“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.”  -Ernest Holmes

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

Cosmo Katy


Finished up her head dress and blended her arm out.  Really the biggest thing was adding a level adjustment to brighten her up and adding shadows to boost the contrast and bring her out of the background.

Happy with how this project turned out.


“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  -Confucius

Pink Goldfish


We were allowed to create anything we wanted for our first project in my Computer Art class.  I decided to go with a surreal photo-manipulation.



“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”  –Helen Keller

101st Post!!!

JesseVW Blue Eyes

I appreciate everybody who has joined me on this ride over these last couple of months.

Having this blog and knowing people are actually seeing my work has been a good motivation to keep going, push myself further, and work at my craft on a more consistent basis.  I’ve went from posting every now-and-then, to posting (almost) everyday, and most importantly, I’ve been drawing (almost) everyday for almost two months now.

I feel as if I’ve received a level up and I know the more I work the more I’ll grow.

It’s interesting looking back and seeing how this blog has changed from just a requirement to complete in one of my classes, to something I’m passionate about and something I look forward to doing everyday.

I’m excited to see what the next 101 posts will bring.  :)


  • “I can’t believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary.”
    -Lou Holtz