Masking With Smart Objects

February 24, 2010 at 7:17 am (computer art, Digital Art, graphic design, Photoshop tips and tricks) (, , , , , , , , )

Painted in Illustrator then imported into Photoshop

Experimenting with Smart Objects

I created the woven mesh with Illustrator CS4’s blob brush tool, then applied multiple gradients. I overlapped the layers of this weave repeatedly, moving their position so that it created more of a tangled appearance. I recolored some of the layers using Live Color, altering the color order and saturation of colors to add depth. Then I simply selected these layers and copied them via the clipboard into Photoshop as Smart Objects and continued to manipulate them. I used a Mask created from duplicating the blue Channel of an image of a man. I then clicked on this new Channel in the Channels Panel and increased its contrast using Brightness/Contrast and Levels in order to Mask away portions of the woven texture to make it appear as though the man was constructed of this substance. I also painted directly onto this Channel Mask layer with Dodge and Burn and a paintbrush set to Overlay Blending Mode. This helps to add more contrast to the edges of the mask.

Afterwards I continued adding gradients to these layers in Photoshop, and dodged and burned onto the layers themselves. I also used the Liquify filter to tweak the effect.

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Teaching Photoshop

July 4, 2009 at 9:57 pm (Digital Art, graphic design) (, , , , , , , , )



New Media Web Development Program at BCIT

I’ve been extremely busy over the past few months, juggling a number of new projects, the highlight is teaching Photoshop at BCIT. Students are dedicated, full of enthusiasm, quickly absorbing the techniques, even advanced concepts. The culmination was their final poster project where several students had leapt forward in their skill level, eons ahead of where they had begun at the beginning of the course.

The art above is one that I created one evening when I was putting together a class lesson. I took a slight detour along the way. My only regret is that I didn’t create it in print resolution, the dimensions are for web. But I was just playing with ideas when suddenly a picture began to emerge. It’s far from my usual style. Perhaps I’ve been looking at too much Manga on Deviantart and that style crept into this piece, but it was refreshing doing something different.

I’m also working on another children’s book for Flattenme. It is a lot of fun, this time not only can children’s faces be inserted into the main character, but also there will be an adult man and woman version of the story. Very exciting !


Detail of Hex

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Third Valentines Card In The Series

November 11, 2008 at 7:43 am (computer art, Digital Art, Photoshop tips and tricks) (, , , , , , )


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. 🙂

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