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! :)