Lucille – A Modern Day FairyTale

February 22, 2009 at 1:50 am (computer art, Digital Art, Photoshop tips and tricks) (, , , , , , , , , )



Enjoying Photoshop CS4

This art piece began as an experiment, just playing around in newly installed CS4. I wasn’t sure if it would shape into anything substantial, so when it got late, around 3 a.m., I saved the file and abandoned it for several days, thinking that it was probably just junk.

A week or two later, I was cleaning my desktop and saw this PSB file that I had completely forgotten about. I opened it up to decide whether or not to delete it. It was still very much in the rough phase and looked quite terrible. I wasn’t sure if it could be salvaged, but I luckily happened to be in ‘the zone’ for working, so I began playing with it.

Originally I had shaped the girl into a sort of ‘elf’, with pointed ears and was going to take it into a more extreme fantasy direction. But I wasn’t satisfied with the ears, kept adding new ones, from exotic monkeys and other animals. I was going to give her a half-human, half-animal appearance. But none seemed believable (or as believable as pointed ears can be, ha ha! … actually, this brings up an important point. Even within fantasy, a measure of believability has to be maintained, otherwise the effect just looks tacky).

I began adding a halo of hair instead, until the girl took on a very soft ethereal quality which changed the entire direction of the piece.

Allow The Art To Shape Itself

When I’m creating art for myself, unlike when I’m working for a client, I allow the art to morph into any direction it wants. This is the most enjoyable part. I love the suspense of not knowing how it will turn out, what story it will tell. For example, when the elf ears weren’t working and the halo of soft hair added a different personality to the girl, I abandoned the elf idea and began adding elements that enhanced the soft, intense features. Every new element has to match the aspects that are working.

Be Prepared to Abandon Elements That Aren’t Working

Even if I spend an hour or more extracting an element or animal, color matching it, adding lights and shadows, if the element isn’t working within the scene I don’t hesitate for a moment to delete it. I never get attached to something just because I’ve spent hours working on it. I chalk it up to ‘practice time’. For example, I tried many different backgrounds and tree trunks beneath the owl. I spent hours, tweaking, recoloring, dodging, burning, distorting, but afterwards deleted many of them … until I found one that seemed to enhance the main character’s mood and personality.

Tip – Beware of CS4’s New Layer Delete

Beware, if you have a layer selected in the Layer Palette (now renamed Panel by Adobe), if you click Delete, you won’t get a message “Are you sure you want to delete this layer?” … it will automatically delete without asking you. Advanced users of Photoshop will like this time-saving feature, but Newbies have to be careful. Several times when I was working on this piece, I accidentally hit “delete” when I was actually reaching for another shortcut key. Luckily I noticed and hit “Ctrl / Z ” (Cmd / Z on the Mac) to bring back the layer.

I also still have to sort out the issue of the OpenGL features not working, whether it’s my video card, or my operating system. Also in Photoshop’s 3D, the 3D axis is not displaying, even when I’ve selected it from the view menu. The 3D axis control is faster and simpler than using the indivual 3D tools from the Toolbox. I’m not sure if this issue is connected to the Open GL issue or whether it is a separate problem. If anybody knows the answer, please let me know. My operating system is Window XP Professional and my video card on this computer is NVIDIA Quadro NVS 285, 128 MB, version

Postscript — Happy Update

Miraculously, The OpenGL features have begun working, along with the 3D Axis tool. I’m not certain what caused this because I did a number of different things while trying to troubleshoot the problem. I went to the NVIDIA website to update my Video card driver. You can choose an option to have the website automatically detect your video card and download the appropriate driver. However, after I installed the new driver, I noticed that the version number was lower than my prior version. This worried me, so I then went to my PC’s Windows Update by right clicking my Desktop, choosing Properties / Settings / Advanced / Adaptor / Properties / Driver / Update Driver. Although I had done this before and received a message that my driver was up to date, this time it actually updated the driver. I think this is what corrected the problem.

I can now do neat functions like Rotate Canvas which comes in handy for painting with a Wacom tablet. And Image Toss, which might sound like some mere gimmick, but believe me, when you have an enormuos document and are zoomed in to some detail and you need to pan to another area of the image, the pan glides as effortlessly as an Olympic skater and there is no blocky redraw lag time, Yipeeeeee !!!

There is also a new handy shortcut in CS4, if you Hold down your mouse while pressing the “H” Key while you are on any other tool. While still holding down both, you can slide around to any area of the image, then when you release the mouse it zooms into that area of the image. Very quick and wonderful way to get around a large, zoomed in image.

I also finally see the 3D Axis Tool, which is the most efficient way to manipulate the X, Y, and Z movements and rotations. I was so happy and relieved when these features began working that I felt tears come to my eyes. I never realized how important they were to me until I saw my reaction when they magically appeared. I am one very happy Photoshopper today !!!

Visit my website: The Graphic Groove
Or my gallery on Flickr

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Christening Photoshop CS4

February 14, 2009 at 12:12 am (computer art, Digital Art, Photoshop tips and tricks)


The Wizard

First Art Made With Photoshop CS4

This art took me about 5 days (and nights) to complete. The monkey is pieced together with about 10 digital images, the snake is several pieces, her dress and body are comprised of too many bits and pieces to remember. The flower vase is comprised of more than 30 pieces and was so much fun to make.

Actually this image was a delight to make, everything went smoothly and it is the very first art piece that I’ve made using CS4. I had bought CS4 (the Master Edition) several months ago but wanted to wait until I finished the card project before installing. For some reason the new OpenGL features aren’t working on Windows XP Professional. I have to find out if it’s due to XP or due to the kind of graphics card I have. I also have Vista installed on the same computer, but it’s acting up at the moment, keeps restarting after intalling an auto update.

But the fantastic news is that Photoshop CS4 seems to be far more stable than CS3 !!! Yipee !! To test CS4’s stability, I purposely tried doing some distortions that used to be a guaranteed way to crash Photoshop on my prior version (ie: I have a layer with a Mask that is grouped to another layer and I Transform / distort it). In a large file that is more than 2 gigs unflattened, CS3 used to crash … but the operation went as smooth as butter. A complete delight ! The image you see here (viewed at large size) is just 9 percent of the original image size, which is 22 x 30 @ 300 dpi.

Where’s The Extract Filter In CS4 ?!!

I spent about 15 minutes looking all over the CS4 interface, trying to find where the Extract Filter is hidden. Turns out that it doesn’t automatically install with the program. Several plug-ins are tucked away on the “Goodies” dvd (separate from the installation dvd) … not certain what the reason is for this, possibly due to the user having the choice of 32 bit or 64 bit, depending on their computer and graphic card’s capabilities. These plug-ins can also be downloaded on Adobe’s website: Photoshop CS4 plug-ins

Here is a link to Ivy’s face image

Visit my website: The Graphic Groove
Or my gallery on Flickr

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