Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jogging my Memory



Is it just me, or does everyone forget about 75% of anything, when you haven't had a chance to do it for a few months? I spent a couple of hours today trying to wake up my brain and make it remember how to do stuff that, last November, it was doing on autopilot! There were a number of projects I was fiddling with, before the move. The first two pictures, today, you've actually seen before, a looong time ago. I was never 100% satisfied with the render of the young beauty asleep in the sun, because the hair, when seen in closeup and with the strands seriously stretched and pulled and twisted, reaches a point where you really can see the fact every strand is made of myriads of small straight sections, all articulated at the joins. I've wanted to repaint the hair for months now. The second one, which I call "Misty River," was rendered in Bryce 7 Pro most of a year ago, but I was never able to get back to it, to finish it. And the third one is a "process painting" done in Irfanview and Photoshop, rescuing an image of the trails up at Aberfoyle Park, SA, in the springtime (you can tell it's spring: all those yellow flowering trees). The photo was fine up to a point ... the sky is full of powerlines!

So, in the interests of jogging my memory, I took the opportunity to finish these, since my work space is set up and ready to rock and roll. If you're wondering, this is where it all happens:  


Laptop, 24" flat screen, keyboard, two mouses (mice? Meece?) mouse pad, Wacom Bamboo, spaghetti of cables. Confusing, isn't it?! The Mighty Thor's brainbox is on the floor under the desk...

Memory jogged quickly enough. I was very pleased with the repainting on the catnapping dude:


That's much nicer. The one thing that had let this picture down, before, was the hair, in extreme closeup. Call this one fixed.

And while I was hunting around for old files, I stumbled over some folders I'd archived from about four computers ago (yep ... counting them, four, not even including this laptop)...




This is what you'd call "process art" -- each piece starts as a photograph and is tweaked and generally abused until it resembles a painting. You'll need to see a couple of those at large size, to see the effect. The question you're asking is, why would you bother? 

Sometimes, it's a useful way to rescue a picture that had a serious defect (like the sky full of powerlines). Other times, the image has great subject matter and framing, but it was shot at incredibly low resolution, which makes it a reject today even though it was a nice photo in 2003. Pictures can be saved by being turned into art, and you can get this kind of effect sooo easily:


In fact, that's the reason I didn't do more process art. It was just too easy. I had a brief flirtation with this, did a few dozen of these pieces, and then let them go. These were all done in Irfanview and finished off in Micrografx Picture Publisher, which had a set of neat borders which were added with a click. I'm sure Photoshop must have the same kind of thing ... I honestly haven't looked yet!

Incidentally, if you're wondering how to do this kind of art: over-saturate the piece; then crank the contrast waaay up; then blur it till it's almost gone, then re-re-re-resharpen it, till the picture goes very slightly whacko at the detail level. Tweak the color and contrast some more, and ... well, that's basically it. You can also play with the color balance -- drop out the red or the blue, see what this does to the image. Fundamentally, here, you're forcing the software to duplicate the artist's human efforts. Paintings are often too contrasty, or too color saturated, or some color or other is overstated. By forcing the software to shift the image this way or that, you can make the same kind of statement an artist would make with a paintbrush. The thing is, it's so easy. Too easy. I guess there was no challenge, so I didn't have much more than a flirtation with this!

But I am playing around with some cool things that Photoshop does, and I gotta get back to Manga Studio. And Bryce, come to that. Going to be busy this year!

Jade, January 26 (Australia Day)
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