This one took 4 days to create
Photoshop Crashed Again
I took a breather durng the card project to work on one for myself. It is so relaxing to begin working without any idea of what the theme would be. I start by just playing with background, piecing bits and pieces, then blending, manipulating until a mood and idea begins to emerge. I had no idea in the beginning that I would make a woman with a bird. Whereas, when I’m working for a client, with a specific theme, it’s much different. When I do art for myself, I just let my hand lead me, instead of forcing the art to comply with a specific idea. It is very relaxing … until …
At 3 a.m. after working for about 6 hours without saving, Photoshop crashed when I tried to distort an object that had a Mask applied plus was linked to several other layers with Masks on them. The Photoshop file was already more than 6 gigs! with about 70 layers, so the calculations for this distortion exceeded the available RAM, so down she went. I remember emitting a loud “NO !” (I hope I didn’t wake my neighbors) 🙂 There was nothing to do but to redo all that work. I had to redo most of the dress that I had painstakingly worked on for hours, had to redo the bird, the flowers and the woman’s chest and collarbone, which you might think is easy, but the small portion just below her neck alone had taken me more than an hour to complete.
You think I would have learned my lesson by now. Once I lost an entire day’s work when Photoshop crashed and since then I’ve gotten into the habit of saving more frequently. But when the files are 6 gigs unflattened, (169 MB as a flattened Tif), it actually takes 17 minutes for the file to save (I timed it). That’s the reason why when I’m in the ‘zone’, I hate to have to sit and twiddle my thumbs while the file saves. But I sure paid for it, I had to redo 6 hours of work. I was up until 9 a.m. finishing it up (and had worked day and night for 3 days before). This image took me 4 days and nights to complete.
The woman is made from too many pieces to count, ie: the eyelashes from one, irises from another, eyebrows from another, nose from another, hair from several, shoulders from another, and so on. I love this kind of challenge, creating things from bits and pieces. I made the dress in Photoshop, using tiny bits and pieces. I tried so many hand poses, and different birds, eventually settling on this little sparrow, comprised of 3 different images.
The Third Card In The Valentines Series
The Last In the Valentines Series
I worked for 3 days and nights on this one. As usual after completing an image, I feel a bit disoriented, partly from being at the computer for such long stretches, beginning about 3 p.m. and working right through until the following morning. One night I didn’t get to bed until 9:30 a.m. the following morning. Then I slept for 5 hours and began again, working all afternoon and through the night. And again today most of the day, doing the final revisions and touch ups.
I’m feeling very satisfied with the intense colors and lighting in this one, the splashes of light on the window frame and ledge. I loved working on the birds, small creatures, but actually more intricate and difficult than many of the larger animals. I love the bits of weathered stone and wall and the nook with the birds nest that I constructed out of a hole in a tree. Believe it or not, one of the most difficult parts was the dark interior behind the window. It took a long time to get the mood and lighting right, with some contrasting yet complimentary colors. I tried a slew of different interiors and colors before settling on this one. It adds to the 3-dimensional appearance of the window.
Drinking Red Bull To Stay Awake
After the illustration marathon, I’m drinking Red Bull to stay awake and to feel human. I still need to work on the design for the inside of the card.
Photoshop Tip – Channel Mixer
Oh yes, I did promise to add Photoshop tidbits to this blog. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover the power of the Channel Mixer settings. Before, whenever I needed to change the color of anything, I used to use Hue and Saturation. But have you noticed how it is often destructive to color and pixels? Very frustrating. Even if you find the right color within its settings, usually it flattens the tone and makes it appear unnatural. Unlike the Hue and Saturation settings, Channel Mixer allows you to make very intricate settings to both brightness and all the subtle tones within an object’s color. I am amazed how beautifully it works.
At first the Channel Mixer’s palette seems a bit daunting because each output channel (drop down menu of red, green, and blue … each has their own red, green and blue settings. You have to experiment for awhile, keeping your fingers firmly on the CTRL / Z keys (CMD / Z on the Mac) to undo the slider if you set it wrong. You can also reset completely by pressing the Alt key (it’s a hidden command) When you press the ALT key after making a selection on the slider, you will see a “Reset” button appear. If you press this, it resets your colors.
After experimenting for a few months, I now know exactly what sliders to use to achieve any given color tone, no matter how subtle. It is a digital artist’s dream, and has saved me sooooo much time. I’d say it’s my favorite Photoshop palette in my 2008 arsenal, besides the dodge and burn tools. (I recently attended an Adobe Seminar where the presenter from Adobe said the Dodge and Burn were completely useless. I almost had a heart attack on the spot because I thought he was about to say that the tool had been eliminated in CS4, but thank goodness it hasn’t). I use it constantly for creating lighting highlights and shadows. Completely and absolutely essential tools. I bow to the feet of the programmer who created them. 🙂
Another In The Valentines Series
Valentines Card Project Continues
This is the second Valentines card, there will be one more in the series … at the moment it’s still a glimmer in my imagination. I will likely begin working on it today. Cards have been commissioned by Flattenme and will soon be available on their website http://www.flattenme.com, which is currently being revamped. Their personalized children’s books will soon be available in 7 different languages.
The cards are personalized and customers can upload a photo of their child’s face which will be inseerted into the card. A personalized message will be placed inside. Very sweet.
This one took several days to complete. I do both boy and girl versions of each card, plus design the inside. At first I submitted the version below, but a revision of the background was requested because the client thought it looked like “a slick West Palm Beach” and not warm hearted enough 🙂 Up here in Canada where I live, I guess I didn’t realize it would be interpreted this way. A good learning experience … after all, perception is everything. The client was also concerned that the face was at an angle which might confuse customers because the images of their child that they submit would usually be a straight on shot. It was interesting to compare both versions. Any comments welcome 🙂
Earlier Version – Revised Version Above