This image was created using a mixture of layers. I began by taking an image of a painting and used that as a base layer. Actually to make it dramatic I had to copy it and reverse it a few times to build up the texture. To get it to look just how I wanted it I used the brush tool and the eraser tool to get the overall pattern that I wanted. There was no special technique involved here – it was more of a questions of trying things until it looked like the sort of thing I had in my mind.
Next I added a layer with the face on it. This layer was the top layer and so I could try out different blending modes and different layer opacities until I got the mix that I was after. I could have used different blending modes to get different effects, but this one was the one that I liked best. There is no “right” mode here, just the one that you like. The opacity was a matter of reducing it until the face was just visible, without it dominating the background.
The light flashes and other effects in the background were added by simply using different brushes. There are lots of these available for photoshop and other software on the net, so it is up to your imagination as to which you use on there.
If you look very carefully at the red section (upper left) you will see another image – side view of another young woman. The side view was added to the top of the stack and adjusted via the blend/opacity option. Something in full view and something hidden.
If there is a lesson in creating this image it is this – try things out and experiment. The worst that can happen is that you have hours of fun trying things out.
This review is a demonstration of one of the best and longest surviving free alternatives to Photoshop :
Here is the image that I created. I will add a few words to explain how I did this.
What follows is by no means a tutorial but a FYI as to my method. The idea for that image came from a painting I looked at on the Internet about a week ago so the ‘vision thing’ was no longer a requirement.
The background texture which I already had was about the same color as the painting so that reduced my workload somewhat. I love to add the ‘square’ effect to images which I think enhances them so first thing I did after loading the background was to add a photo I use regularly of a plain white square – its a small photo – about 250×250 I think. So I added about 5-6 instances of the square to the background – separate layers of course. Once I had the squares in place I clicked on each of the squares layers in turn and adjusted the blend and opacity until the canvas looked right. Next was to prepare the nude – just usual stuff – I always sharpen the image and some I process as fake HDR’s to give them a little bounce.
Added the nude on top of everything and mucked around with it moving it around so that it matched the picture I had in my mind. To remove any extraneous crap I used a layer mask but there are many other ways of doing this in PhotoShop/Gimp. Once the image looked about right I added the trees – this was actually a photo I shot a few years back when I went on a bird-watching/photographing visit to a humongous park (actually its Federal govt land so free to walk around) about a few clicks from where I live.
The tree was added to satisfy my dumb-ass eccentricity and sense of imbalance – incongruity – I dont, as a matter of principle, aim for perfection in my ‘photo-art’ .. thats just me.
I’m a great fan of blending modes and opacity – some of the stuff I’ve posted were made using just those two effects and brushes.
This was the final image that I called Spider’s Web.
I have been asked if I just let things evolve and see where it went or if I had a specific idea in mind from the beginning. Well I often just see where an image is going and follow what each iteration suggests, but on this one I had an idea of what I was after even before I clicked the camera’s shutter.
I went to Cardiff Bay to take some images of the back of the Odeon cinema. This modern building in an “Entertainment complex” was not a thing of beauty in itself. It did, however have the patterns of straight lines that i knew I was after as a starting point. This is what the originals looked like….
The key element of the image was going to be the second of these. I used levels to get a lot of contrast and to lighten up the tiles. The I added a change in hue to get a blue tone. I then enlarged the canvas horizontally and copied the image. After flipping the copy horizontally I moved one layer to the left of the canvas and one layer to the right. I then did the same with the first image but put this one on a layer that I pushed to the bottom of the stacked. ( Note: I made sure i noted the colour codes for the hue and saturation so that i could ensure that I got the same hue on each of the three layers. ) This gave me this version….
I decided at this point to leave that as an image in its own right and to convert a copy to a red/pink colour to continue editing. I started by using the Photoshop “spherize” filter to introduce some curves into the image. By now it was looking like this…
Now I set about creating the pattern structure of the final image. I actually used the polar co-ordinates filter in Pixlr – the web app as it is easier than photoshop. Once this was done I used the same app’s kaleidescope filter and adjusted the settings until it was the shape I wanted – the spider’s web. All that was left then was to add some vibrance and up the saturation until it was the finished product.
A reminder of what that finished product was.
I like producing images in this style. Surprisingly to some, it is not built on using textures. there were no layers used in the production of this image. Here is how I did it.
I used some filters on Photoshop from “Foto Farm”. This added the motion blur and the colour distortions. I actually used several versions of this and added them each as a separate layer until I got the combination that i liked best. The effect looked different depending on what blending mode I used for that layer. I used several different blending layers.
I wanted to increase the brightness of the colours in the final version so I increased the colour depth by adding a little saturation and by lightening the image slightly to keep it nice and bright.
The importance here is not to expect a single filter to create a finished product but to be patient and experiment until you get the effect you were looking for.
I hope you like it.
As well as my interest in photography I also create music using the PC as my instrument. Recently I decided to combine the two hobbies in a single item – a video. This is the finished video.
This was not as hard as it might appear. I will go through how I put this together.
In terms of the software, I used wnSoft’s “pcitures to exe”. I have had this a couple of years as it was very cheap to buy. It is now $75 for the deluxe version. There are other programmes, some of them free, some of them very expensive, but I am not going to go into the detailed use of this one so I will only say a little about the process.
Like similar programmes “Pictures to exe” is basically a drag and drop programme. You simple drop the pictures you want to use from the file they are in on your computer onto the timeline in the programme. There are defaults of 4 seconds per photo, but you can change this, as well as altering transitions between images, or you could simply set the default to spread the slides along the length of the music track. It is all very easy, but with plenty of options if you want to experiment.
For the music I created a remix of the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida”. I used a piece of software called Mixcraft for this. I am not going to go into any detail about that here as the main emphasis on this site is the images. You could use any royalty free music.
And so to the creation of the images. In this case I wanted a mixture of abstract digital art images, but with enough recognisable photos to see what they were based on. I used a mixture of iPiccy and Pixlr ( both free ) to do the editing. In this particular project I wanted to show the images merging from one to another as the music progressed. The technique I used was to start with an image and then change one feature. At the start for example I had a picture of an old wooden yoke to which I added a textured background. Then I removed the Yoke layer to leave just the texture. I could then add other images to the texture.
I used the “Fade in and fade out” transition as the default for all images so each image merges from one into another seemlessly. Another example of this seemless transition would be the following images.
Here I changed the colour from yellow to orange. Then I added a transition to the orange one.
This is another cloud based editing suite. This one differs to others such as iPiccy because it tells you up front that there are different levels of use. As soon as you go onto the site you are given the following options.
They can be used on tablets and mobiles as well as a desktop or laptop. I will show examples from the PIXLR Editor, or advanced, option.
Starting with this not particularly outstanding image I will try out a few of the changes…
First of all I will upload the image from my computer ( though you do get the options of using pixlr stock images, or creating something from scratch using the brush tools.) then make a few standard editing variations. I will change the levels, but as you can see there are plenty of standard editing tools in the list.
The first thing to notice is just how close the interface is to Photoshop. This goes throughout the pixlr editor programme. I pushed the dark level up and pulled in the light areas in order to get more contrast into the image.
The change is immediate and obvious. You have total control over how much and what type of change you want. In the filter menu you have many of the standard Photoshop styles, but also a few extra ones. In this next shot I used the Glamour Glow filter.
Once again the effect is immediate.For the rest it is a case of playing around. The edit menu has the usual “undo” button so you are never stuck with a change you didn’t want. The Polar Co-ordinates filter is even more obvious and opens up more creative options for you.
Adding the kaleidescope filter really starts to get you going….
Change the Hue and you are now totally in the realm of abstract image creation……
What I have tried to do here, very briefly is to demonstrate the full range of options with this simple to use software. You can do straight editing such as increasing contrast, levels and colours just as easily as more creative options layered on top of one another
Well worth a try – after all it is free and there is no registration required.
To begin you need a photograph of a famous place, such as a well known building, bridge, tower, etc. It is best to use a daytime photograph for more detail. For this image you will also need photographs of a rough sea with large stormy waves. You will also need a photograph of a stormy cloudy sky – good cloud texture gives the best results.
This montage image was done using Photoshop, but you can use other software with similar tools. This uses Photoshop brushes of lightning, waterfall, water splash and clouds to add detail to the overall image. The waterfall can be placed on the top edge of the building to look like water flooding down after a large wave has washed over the building. There are various websites where royalty free photographs and Photoshop Brushes can be downloaded for free.
The Arc de Triomphe.
Create a new Photoshop document – the best size for this particular project is 1000 x 1000 pixels but it can be adjusted later on.
Open the cloudy sky photograph file and the Arc de Triomphe photograph file. Drag the cloudy sky across to your document to use as the base layer. Then drag the Arc de Triomphe photograph across and position the two layers so that they align properly.
There are two techniques for the next step and both will make the cloudy sky layer visible. You can either use the selection tool and select around the Arc de Triomphe and across the skyline of that image. Then reverse the selection and delete the sky from the photograph. The second option gives more flexibility for adjustment. This time you add a vector mask layer to the Arc de Triomphe layer. Select the brush tool with a soft edge and foreground set to black and background to white. Paint over the sky area so the cloudy sky layer shows through.
Now open the big wave photograph.
Remove the sky to just leave the wave just as you did on the Arc de Triomphe image. Position the wave in the lower half of the image. If you repeat this two or three times then you can build up the wave shapes by adjusting its position relative to the other waves. If you add a vector mask layer you can remove parts of each wave to make it fit in with the waves below. When choosing the position of the waves, look at the building and visualise in your mind how the wave would be effected by the shape of the building as it splashes against it.
To create the rain effect add a new top layer. Fill it with black and set the layer mode to screen.This will make the black disappear but you will not have an empty layer and it can still be edited. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Choose Gaussian and the monochromatic option.
Next go to filter > blur > motion blur. Set the angle to diagonal – around 60 degrees looks good. Set the motion blur to around 30 per cent, but try different amounts until it looks like falling rain.reduce the opacity and fill amounts for the layer to show more of the background elements.
Create a new layer and select a lightning bolt from the lightning brush set. decide on a suitable area of the clouds layer where a bolt might come through a gap in the clouds.Set the brush size quite low so that it looks like it is further away in the distance. Change to the clouds layer and select the dodge tool. click a couple of times to brighten up the sky around the lightning bolt, giving an impression of the lightning lighting up that area of the sky.
Add an adjustment layer set to levels as your top layer. In the new window that appears adjust the sliders to vary the levels of dark, mid tones and light tones. This will add depth to the overall tones of the shadows and light areas.
This is a guide to help you to create this sort of scene. Most importantly play around and experiment so that you can build up an image based on your choice and style. There are endless ways that you can go with an image like this and as someone who has just had a go, i can assure you it is marvellous fun, especially letting your mind go free on a great journey.
by Peter Turner
Here is the explanation for the manipulation and the texture I used.
The texture is from Flickr, an artist called Kirstin Frank who posts many textures which she allows people to use. There are several good places to find textures on the Flickr site. There are texture groups on the site as well as the results you can get if you do a search for “texture”. Most of the people who create these textures do it so that they can be used. They are mostly very happy for you to use them, but it is normally expected that you give a reference to them – as i have done with Kirstin Frank.
Next open the flower image. Chose one that is sympathetic to the texture ( or do it the other way round and start with the flower then find a texture that fits.) This one is a similar colour to the background but different enough to show up, so it will merge with it rather than seem pasted on top. Because this flower was taken against a plain background I could cut the background to make blending easier.
Open texture image. Resize it to match the size of the original. Copy it, then past it as a new layer over the original. Experiment with options such as multiply, normal, darken, lighten etc. until the desired tone is reached. Erase the texture from the flower, and combine layers.
If you do not want to make the flower merge into the texture you can of course use a contrasting colour. This was my original idea on this theme.
This technique is not restricted to putting flowers onto a textured background. The same technique was used with this still life, shot against a plain black background, but with a texture added…….
…and this cyclamen image with a darker feel ..
The result will look something like this, BUT, remember the joy of doing this is that no two people will get the same image. You just tweak and adjust things until you get the feel that YOU want.
There are lots of things you can do with your finished images. One of the obvious things to do with them is to sell them. There are plenty of places where they can be sold. Some of these just provide a market your stuff and charge for the service. They do NOT market them – i.e. promote them. That is still left to you. these include big sites such as Red Bubble, Zazzle, Deviant Art etc.
Others do provide access to large markets and you could make lots and lots of sales. These tend to sell to commercial buyers wanting stock images for illustrating their catalogues, brochures, websites and so on. These are called Stock Libraries and aim to make money by having a big market and selling lots to them. You get a percentage of their sales of your photos. You have to guess what the buyers want before you take the photos. This means that you have to concentrate on images that can serve a lot of needs rather than the arty ideas that you might have, but which only appeal to a relatively small number of people or which do not illustrate anything tangible that they want to show off.
Stock photos can be fairly lucrative, but they are often seen as just the opposite of creativity. I came across this video, which is a How To type of video on how to sell to stock libraries, but it could almost be said to be a case study in “How NOT to be creative and imaginative”. It is done in a very lighthearted way, so it is worth a look.
I would be interested in your views on whether the two have to be in conflict. Why not add a comment below to give some feedback and pass your thoughts on to others…