Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Semi-Off Topic: Art 101

Ok, this has nothing to do with my Photoshop class (GRC 183), but it DOES relate to Photoshop itself, since I "dressed up" some of the photos I'm about to share. when I came into this semester, I did so with the firm belief that I couldn't draw to save my life, and at the time there was ample evidence to support this belief. However, over the course of my time in ART 101, this has changed a little. I'm not going to claim that I'm some sort of virtuoso with pencil and paper, because I'm most certainly not, but I picked up a few things, and feel that I have some technique... though not much skill. Here are three works that I've done in the class that I'm not embarrassed to share. :)

This first drawing came about when the instructor was telling us to explore "value" (how light or dark a color is). While I was trying to think of a subject to draw, I saw this wine bottle, and it looked interesting, so I chose to draw it. It proved to be an extremely enjoyable (though somewhat frustrating, at the time) challenge, and I think it turned out VERY well, all things considered. Just kindly ignore the lines. I made the mistake in putting them in in ink, so couldn't erase them as I went along. Oops?

This next one is obviously a self portrait, and while it's not great, it at least LOOKS like me. Overall, I'm at least "content" with this one, though I know that there is a lot of room for improvement. I think I NAILED the hat though. :D

The final piece that I'm sharing needs a bit of explanation, I think. My instructor classifies it as a "drawing", though I would have to disagree. there are drawn elements to it, but overall, it's more diorama than drawing. Anyway, have a look and decide for yourself:

Basically, this is... it's... Well, I don't know WHAT it is, but it turned out the way it was supposed to, so here you go. While I'm at it, here are two more photos of it, taken from different angles:

You know, I'm going to miss art class. I'll have another class next semester, so I'll be blogging about it when the new semester starts, but probably in a different blog. I'm really enjoying blogging about my progress in school, so I think I'll make more of a habit of it in the future. this is probably my last post in this blog for a while, but be on the lookout for other blogs and posts. I'm sure I'll have more to say, later.

Till then, have fun!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Final Project - Mock-up Web Page

For our final project we wee to create a "mock-up" web page in Photoshop, utilizing a number of the skills learned throughout the semester. I had planned on an elaborate design that used a rather detailed 3D model that was based on the ridge equipment originally found on the starship Voyager from the Star Trek franchise. I had several dozen hours put into the project, and was nearing completion when a sudden glitch in PS caused me to have to abandon that project or risk not having a finished product to turn in. What I ended up making instead took me all of an hour and a half, and it was clearly not what I had originally intendd, but it turned out well enough, so I thought I would share it here.

The project rules were simple. We were to first "storyboard" the intended design, then do a layout mock-up, add text, then put together two separate "pages" from within the intended site. Here, in that order, is what I came up with:

First, the storyboard. I decided to keep this as simple as possible, since when I "pitch" a site I provide the visual details during the presentation. This is a simple 2-column layout with a header and footer. All elements of the page are completely static except for the main content panel (as you will see in a moment). This saves on bandwidth, making the page load faster and perform more smoothly for people with slower internet connections or mobile devices with metered bandwidth. though this layout is in desktop/laptop format (1366x768 pixels), the site would be making use of a responsive layout, meaning that mobile or tablet users wouldn't miss out on any functionality or presentation.

Next comes the page background. Through the use of CSS Media Queries, this image will be selected to match the screen size of the device accessing it (or the closest match, in cases of non-standard displays), thus allowing for improved user experience on smaller devices.

this scene depicts the various "panels" that will be used in the page. Though it's not immediately obvious, there are colors applied to the header and footer panels that serve to improve readability of the text contained in each. Here's what those panels look like without the background image:

As you can see, the coloring is VERY subtle, but it makes the text within them a LOT easier to read.

Here's what the News page is meant to look like. You'll notice that you have to look very hard to see the coloring in the header and footer, but it's still there, and it helps the text to stand out, making it easier to read. This, incidentally, is why the left navigation and main content panels are white, with only a small amount of transparency added. You can still see the background image, but the text isn't getting lost in the background.

And finally, the blog page. As mentioned earlier, only the main content of the page changes when a link is clicked. Not only does this save on bandwidth, it also takes advantage of "repetition" to make the site feel more uniform and professional.

while this was the most "quick & dirty" project I've made this semester, it's also one of the most fun to do (my favorite is still the movie poster, though). This has been an incredible class, and I've learned a lot.I hope that the rest of my time at WNC is this enjoyable. I'm going to make one more post, probably tomorrow, showing off a few of the things I've made in my Art 101 drawing class. Infinite kudos and humble thanks to my instructor, Lee Stokes, and to my fellow classmates, especially Dowain, Suzanne and Denise, who were a joy to be around, and have inspired me to push even harder to create some quality works. May you all enjoy great success in the future.

Ok, enough rambling. Till next time!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blog Post 14: Water Fruit

this is my last "official" blog post for this semester. I'll probably post more things over time, but this post marks the end of my sojourn in GRC183. I've had a lot of fun, and have posted some things that I'm very proud of, so all in all it's been a good experience for me, and I hope for you, as well.

this week is all about building an "aquarium" for my two new best buds, Sparky and Iona. I didn't have much in the way of building materials, so I made due with what I had on hand. They're probably asking each other, "does this apartment smell funny?" :P

now, I'm off to finish my final project for the class; a mockup web page that I intend to use as a new design for Geek Cave Creations. I'll probably post something about it here when I'm happy with it. Till then, have fun!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Week 14: 3D Text

Ok, this week is all about exploring the possibilities of 3D in Photoshop. As most of you know, I've already been doing this for several weeks, so there isn't much new here (that's coming, though, so stay tuned!), but given what today is, I thought I would do something that fits the theme:

Yeah, I know. It's a little irreverent. Those who know me well more or less expect that from me. :P

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Week 13: Graffiti

This post is going to be a bit more "Quick & Dirty" than normal, as I'm late getting ready for class.

I followed the tutorial to the letter, but I'm not quite sure that I'm happy with it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Post 11: Text Portrait

This week's blog post covers the creation of text art, and I think I have something that's both interesting and different to share with you. I'm a big fan of DC Comics, and Superman in particular, and in my opinion, the movie "Man of Steel" was without a doubt the best in the franchise. So when this assignment came around, I knew what I wanted to use as the subject. Enjoy:

Week 11 Review: Animation!

I think I may have gone a bit overboard with this one. We were to create a simple animation, using basic shapes, or images from the web, move the shape/image around the screen for 2 to 3 seconds, and that was it. Did I do that? Of COURSE not. :D Here's my submission:

See? Overboard. Oh well. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 10 Lesson Review: Beat up a Kid!

Ok, maybe the title's a little strong, but...

This week, using various techniques outlined in a PDF tutorial we were given (I can't link to it here, as it's not mine to do so with), we're to take this image:

And make him look like this:

Here's my attempt:


I tried to "dirty" him up a bit more, and also tried to make the highlighting and specularity just a little more realistic, and gave him an extra scar or two, but other than that, I tried to faithfully adhere to the tutorial's guidelines. As always, comments and suggestions are both welcome and encouraged.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Project 3: Hand Coloring

While not a blog post requirement, I decided to share the results from Project 3. We were to hand color a black and white ink comic, using multiple values for our selected hues. I chose the Green Lantern, and I think it turned out rather well. Since this isn't graded, I'm departing from strict adherence to the "rules", and presenting it with a black background.

As always, feedback is both welcome and encouraged.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week 10: Water Color

This week we were to create an image that simulated the appearance of a water color painting, following a tutorial provided for us. I have two submissions this week; one that followed the tutorial exactly (minus the images and textures, since the ones provided by the tutorial lead to pages that contained malware, according to Norton), and one that used SOME of the same techniques, but with a few twists. Personally, I prefer the second one, but I'll let you be the judge:

This is the original image, created from the tutorial and using the exact, step-by-step methods described.

This one was composed the same way, but using different methods to render the same effect. It was far easier to do, and to my mind, looks better. But as I said, I'll let you be the judge. Feedback is most welcome, good or ill.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Week 8: Effects

This week's post involves using different effects to create a space-based image, with a planet and nebula, so I felt it was time to have a bit of fun with things. I'm not completely content with the "nebula" part of this one, but I can work on that once Mom has finished loading the Uhaul and hit the road, in roughly 3 hours and some change. For now, though, I offer this:

Yes, that's the Earth there. At least that part looks ok. :) The lens flare isn't positioned quite right, but fixing that entails deleting the layer that the second lens flare gets put on and recreating it again, with the flare in a different position. The dialog box used for the lens flare effect is tiny, and can't be resized, so I have to guess at placement. Oh well. I'll try again after my nap. :)


While taking a short walk outside, I had an idea that I wanted to try, so I made a few minor changes, and I think that the work stands improved. First, the image, then the explanation:

I think that this version's nebula looks a lot better. What I ended up doing is taking the nebula's color dodge layer and applied a Gaussian blur, to meld the colors together a little. Sadly, this also had the effect of washing out the colors, so I tacked on a couple of adjustment layers (vibrancy, to boost the colors, and brightness/contrast, to boost the overall effect). I ended up having to recreate the 2 composite layers, including the 2 lens flare effects, but I think that those also benefited from the process. I'm much happier with the outcome now, so I think it was worth the effort.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 7 Post: Typography

This week's blog post involves a foray into the realm of Typography; the design and construction of words on a page, dealing with layout, font, color and presentation (more or less). Being a bit of an individualist, not to mention a huge geek, I decided to go with something that's near and dear to my heart:

Not much to say about the piece, other than to mention that I'm pleased with the way it turned out. Please let me know what you think. Thanks.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Week 6 Lesson: Protrait Caricature

This is a Canvas assignment, but I liked the final output enough that I decided to share.

The assignment was to take a portrait of an individual and morph it into a caricature. I had already used caricatures in a previous project (though not my work) to poke fun at the political scene, and I'm a huge fan of Mad Magazine, so I thought I would reprise the concept one last (yeah, right!) time. For those of you who are not familiar with either Mad Magazine or it's unofficial, unofficial mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, here's his mug, for your enjoyment:

This go-around, I decided to poke fun at one of my favorite presidents, George W. bush. I selected a photo of him from early in his presidency, and I only just realized while working on this project just how much the job has aged him:

Now that you've got the concept, all that's left is to show the finished product:

All in all I think it turned out well enough. There are some differences, of course, but I got the overall feel, I think. Comments are most welcome.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 5 Lesson Review: Image integration

I know, this isn't part of the weekly blog post requirements, but I wanted to share. :P

this assignment entailed integrating 3 images to create "an interesting scene". It was to be submitted as a black and white image, using masks and adjustment layers, and the image that I created for the assignment was just that, but I felt that the greyscale version didn't completely convey the entire aesthetic that I was going for. Thus, this post. Here are the two images; you make the call.

I've been told that black and white imagery often enhances the sense of drama within the subject, but frankly, I don't see that here. To my mind, the life has been sucked out of the greyscale version, and the sceen has become dull and uninteresting, while the color version not only pulses with life, it has a great deal more depth, texture and interest. but that's just me, and I admit to a small amount of bias. :D

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Post 6 Filter Effects. Blur

I have to say, this course is getting more and more fun each week. For this assignment, I'm to take an image with some perspective and apply a blur effect to make the image look like it's a macroscopic image of miniatures. I had some technical issues with Photoshop with this one, I'm afraid, and had to uninstall and reinstall PS in order to complete the assignment. It seems that every time I tried to apply a tilt-shift blur to the image I was working on, Photoshop would lock up, forcing me to have to stop it in Task Manager and restart it. Updating PS didn't help, but the uninstall/reinstall helped just enough for me to be able to get things done (though it still freezes from time to time). Anyway, I've got 4 images to show here: 2 using tilt-shift, and 2 using an iris blur (which I think gives a more realistic effect). So without further ado, here is this week's offering:

This is my first attempt at using tilt-shift blur, and while it looks ok, I think that it lacks a certain realism, so I tried a different approach.

This one uses an iris blur, instead. I think it looks a little better, so far as realism is concerned (though I think a tiny bit more blurring would probably have worked, as well).

A different image here, but using the same blur effects. The lack of realism in this one is more pronounced than with the first image.

The iris blur effect here shows a great deal of improvement over tilt-shift blurring, and provides a certain amount of emphasis in the image with the focus on the red car in the center.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Project 2: Movie Poster - Getting Closer

Just a quick update on the progress of the movie poster project. I've added a few things, and... Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:

I'm still not thrilled with the way the burning flag looks, but my experiments with improving it haven't yet netted me any real success. For now, I'll have to put it on the back burner, and come back to it when/if I hav time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Week 4 Review: Brushes, Drawing and Erasing, Color and Adjustment Layers with Masks

Apparently I failed to post this at the proper time, but saved it as a draft, instead. Oops?

Another fun assignment that stretched my skills, and expanded my knowledge! This week, I was to take a pair of images and modify them in specific ways, "draining" the color from one small part of one image, while transforming the color of a section of another image. Here, below, is the result:

This was an enjoyable assignment, and as I mentioned, I learned a few things.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Assignment 5: Splatter Images

Before I begin this post "officially", I need to point out that the content of this post may be offensive to others. This is not my intent, so if you fall among the offended, I humbly suggest that you suck it up.

Ok, down to business. This week, we were to take an image and apply a "splatter effect" to it, in an effort (I suppose) to make the image look as if it had exploded. My effort here isn't as aesthetically pleasing as I guess it could be, but I'm sure that it meets the requirements of the assignment, so there you go.

Yes, I know. I'm picking on the politicians again. Sue me. And no, that is NOT supposed to be the result of an assassination attempt. I LIKE the Donald. But he sometimes blows his top, so I thought, "why not?" Let the temper tantrums commence! :D

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Project 2 - Movie Poster - Concept and Work In Progress

For our second project, we were asked to recreate a movie poster, so I did a little searching for something that would grab my attention, and I came across this:

Now I've not actually watched this movie, but the poster itself struck me as something that I could work with. I'm still a very long way from completing the assignment, but I've come up with a "Proof of Concept" that has a bit of potential:

Please bear in mind that this is a work in progress. I know that the names along the top aren't quite right yet, and I want to add a few more touches to it to make it pop, but I think that this is a solid start. The flag and flames were created by me, but the caricatures I found on the net (usage rights were observed). The title itself was created in Bryce as a 3D model (I'm not 100% happy with the way it turned out, so I may just export the 3D model into another app (probably Carrara or Hexagon, or maybe even Daz Studio), and try to get a more suitable image from it. I'll just have to see. :) For now, though, I'm happy with my progress.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Project 1: Popups

Before I begin describing what I did for this project, I want to take this opportunity to apologize for the way I whined and cried about the last assignment. the past few... Never mind, I don't want to make more excuses here. Suffice it to say that the way I went about that was wrong, and I feel bad about it. Ok, unpleasantness done. Onward! :)

This project was a lot of fun for me (I actually completed it a few days ago, but forgot to post it. Oops?), and with this one I put in a lot of extras. I'll get to what I did in a few. First, let's look at the image:

The basic (if you can call it that) background scene was a 3D render that I created in Bryce. For the mountains that can be seen through the windows, I used a photo that I took of the Job's Peak area that I can see from my house. The popups are characters from a game that I used to play years ago, and the table on which they sit was something that I created back in the late 90's, when I first got into 3D modeling. The PSD that this image came from contains a total of 10 image layers (though one - a darkness mask - is hidden), with additional adjustment and effects layers, bringing the total to (I think) 13. Each of the popups have two sets of shadows (one from the "sun", and one from the {rather faint} light source from inside the room). I'm actually working on an improved background image that will contain softer shadows from the sun through the windows and better shading from the internal light source. Sadly, Bryce has crashed several times with this new scene, so I'm having to take out one object at a time to find the corrupted object or shader that's causing the problem, and that takes time (the scene takes about an hour for each render, and each removal/replace takes at least a half hour to execute before I can try rendering again, so roughly an hour and a half per attempt is needed, and that adds up), so in order to avoid turning the project in late, I went with this one, for now. If I can get the new scene to render without crashing before the deadline, I'll submit that one, and post the new image.

Assignment 3: Selections

This week, we got to experience the joys of manipulating selections. Normally, I try to go "above and beyond" when it comes to these posts, but this week was a bit crazy (not to mention having more than it's fair share of bad days, pain-wise), and I just didn't have the time or energy to do more than just the minimum required, other than trying to make my work look more like a wood cut than something made from paper. I chose the first tutorial video because of this, and while it looks "okay", I'm not happy with the shading (some of the shadowed areas look like they're pointing the wrong way), and the pain meds have served to dull my thinking, so I'll take it as it is.

Ok, enough whining and excuses. Here's the finished product:

Again, not well pleased with the way it turned out, but I've seen worse. :)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Photoshop and Astrophotography

This post isn't an assignment, but it's related to Photoshop, so I figured I would post here, so that I can share a little bit of my passion with others.

This semester, in addition to GRC183, I'm also taking an astronomy class, both to satisfy the science requisites for my GRC degree, but also because I'm an amateur astronomer, and have a love for the field. I also do a fair bit of astrophotography (though this is a relatively new thing, and I'm still learning), and I'm learning how to use Photoshop to make my images more appealing (read: less ugly). I think that, for now, a simple before and after comparison would be a good start, then I can go into the steps taken to change the original into the final product. This is still al learning experience for me, so don't expect a lot here. :)

As you can see, the image is really washed out, and has a bit of a pink cast to it. There's also very little in the way of detail within the galaxy itself. These are the areas that I wanted to address, and this is something that I explored in Photoshop. Here's the final image:

Right away, the "washed out" look and the pinkish tint are much improved and there's a little more detail within the galaxy itself, so I'm definitely getting there, though I strongly feel that I have a long way to go with the process, though for a first attempt this isn't bad at all. Now here's what I did to accomplish this.

The first thing I did was to duplicate the image so that I had something to work with for removing the pinkish tint, and much of the "ambient" light. On this duplicate image I created a selection around the main portion of the galaxy itself with the lasso tool, feathering the outline by 250 pixels (it's a huge image, so I needed a similarly huge feather around the selection). I then used the fill tool within the selection to darken and remove much of the galaxy as possible. This is because this duplicated image will eventually become a subtracting layer mask for the original image; but there are still things to do, first.

The next step was to deselect the marquee and apply a Gaussian Blur to the entire image, with a radius of 1,000 pixels (again, huge image, so huge aperture here), thus turning the entire duplicated image into a soft, amorphous gradient, of roughly the same hue as the original image's pink tint. I next added a curves adjustment layer to the duplicated image, and darkened it by 40% or so.

Ok, back to the original image. I created a new layer, selected the duplicated image and copied it, and then pasted it into the original image's new layer, setting that layer's mode to Subtract. I adjusted the opacity a little (the effect was too strong). That completed, it was time to work on the details of the image.

The next step was to make some adjustments that would improve the contrast, remove the last little bit of "washout", and bring out the colors and details. I initially tried adding a brightness/contrast adjustment layer, but wasn't satisfied with the results, so instead, I added a Levels adjustment layer, and tweaked the dark point (the left triangle, below the histogram) to line up with the spot where the "curve" of the histogram started to rise from it's minimum value. This served to deepen the dark areas of the image and to remove the last of the washed out appearance throughout the image. But the image was now rather washed out in terms of saturation, so I added a vibrancy adjustment layer, and boosted that and saturation just enough to bring out some color without making it look like a cartoon.

Once satisfied with that, I turned to the last aspect of the image that I wanted to improve: the details within the galaxy itself.For this, I used a Curves adjustment layer, raising the light curve a little at the point in the histogram where the value was peaked, and dropping the top of the line by a small fraction to keep the center of the galaxy from being overly bright. This part has proven difficult, and I don't think that I've reached the image's full potential yet, but I have yet to find the best combination of settings and adjustments that will serve me. I'll keep working on it, though, on future images. For now, this is pretty decent, so I'll leave it where it is.

I hope that this blog has helped a little with understanding at least one way of processing astronomy photographs. I didn't go into the process of "stacking" the dozens of images that this final one came from, as that's not really relevant to this blog, but at some point in the future I may start up an astrophotography blog to talk about that aspect of my life and interests. If you enjoyed this post, found it helpful, or have questions or concerns about it, please feel free to comment, below. Till next time, have fun!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Post 2 - Pixel Stretching

This week's assignment was rather fun, and helped me to get more familiar with a few of Photoshop's tools. We were to find an image that contained some vibrant colors (I chose this one)
and use the "Single Row Marquee Tool" to copy a row of images, paste it into a new image of a certain size, and then manipulate that row of pixels to create the illusion of 3D depth. I won't go into the details of the process here, since it's not all that relevant to the blog itself, but I will say that the process seemed a bit lengthy at first, though it got much easier as I went along. Anyway, here's the finished product:

Now I'm sure that my fellow students (as well as my instructor) have noticed that I didn't exactly follow the instructions to the letter. I tend to do that. To be honest, I wanted to do more (think: adding a curved selection, and transforming that). Whenever possible, I like to stretch myself, and go beyond expectations, and until I'm told to stop (or till it affects my grade in a bad way) I'll continue to do it. Either way, I hope you enjoy this presentation. Until next time, have fun! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Post 1 (sort of): Three Graphic Designers

For this assignment (choose 3 graphic designers {though I would call these people graphic artists}, display a pair of images for each, and give the media they worked in for the images displayed), I've selected the artists listed below. With each artist or image, I'll be providing a brief description of why I selected them (artist or image). Shall we begon?

Craig Sellars

I selected Mr. Sellars' work, mainly because of the raw, almost gritty feel that is present in nearly all of his work, and because of the wide range of genres included in his subject matter. When you have a giant lizard in a loincloth, riding a horse and brandishing an assault rifle, all the while making it look like the most natural thing in the world, one must be impressed. :)

This image gives an "old west" feel to the scene that appeals to my outlaw nature.

As a SciFi geek, this image takes me to another place, rich with tech, but still raw and untamed.

Marta Dahlig

The primary reason why I selected Ms. Dahlig's work is no more complex than the fact that I'm a sucker for pretty girls. Perhaps that's a bit sexist, but I like what I like, so sue me. 

While this woman looks angry to me, and perhaps a bit evil (or at least devious), the color green happens to be my favorite. I'm also very impressed with just how natural and lifelike the folds and ripples in the dress appear, and how accurate the shadows and highlights are. This is an area that I have trouble with in my work, so I'm drawn to pieces like this one.


I actually chose this image more for what I didn't like than for what I did. I think that the purple glow around the flowers in her hair was just a bit overdone, and the highlighting along her hands and arms is just a bit too starkly contrasting when compared with the background. I also thought that the overall impression of the image was more of a downer that I would have liked. Still, it's a strong piece, and worthy of mention.

Adrian Baluta

My final pick was a tossup, and I came very close to choosing a different artist, but when I couldn't get Mr. Baluta's  CGSociety page to load so that I could view other examples of his work, rather than giving up, I decided to Google his name and found another online portfolio that just blew me away. I really liked the two images presented here:

To me, this image whispers of "Bambi meets Wall-E", and is rather enjoyable, but there is a bit of a problem with the image that takes away from full enjoyment, in that the "fox" and the bird (and to a lesser extent, the robot) look like they were simply "plopped" into the image. The hard edges of those elements, combined with the shadows for the bird and robot being "wrong" make them all seem out of place. I could go into the muddiness of the out of focus foreground elements, too, but this isn't supposed to be a critique of the image; just a selection and it's explanation for inclusion.

Now this image is what I want to strive for, in terms of what I want to create when I "grow up". The rich colors in the clouds, the sense of serenity, and the contrast of the birds against the sunset all appeal to me.

Now I know that I may have taken "the easy way out", in terms of picking my artists from only one resource, but I feel that these three artists could each teach me something of creativity, and I find inspiration in each of the pieces that I've selected. I hope you found the images as enjoyable as I did.