Digital Detour. Sort Of…

… Its really more of a frequently enjoyed side trip as I travel along the path that defines my art journey. Digital illustration was such a huge part of my professional life for years. I spent hundreds of hours in front of a computer monitor working in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator primarily on client art, so its still in my blood. A drawing tablet was essential to that work. The need for digital art is not as essential these days and I’m totally loving a re-focus on natural media, especially watercolor but I still love digital and all the tech associated with it. It’s a useful and versatile tool for visualization and study when applied to natural media like drawing or painting.

If you’re a digital artist too or have been one in the past, I would love to hear your war stories. And how do you mix or use digital in concert with natural media?

I’ve pulled all nighters doing client work on a Wacom tablet. I would have loved to have been able to work on a pen display like this back then.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 22 (2019)

Photoshop Ghosts Recipe

For a bit of Halloween fun here is a repost from a few years ago.

Happy Halloween!

This is Seth (on the left), I met him a couple of years ago at Kennesaw Mt. National Battlefield, NW of Atlanta. Still dutifully manning his artillery postion after 140 years, he insisted on reading me a letter from home. He doesn’t know he’s a ghost and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Atlanta was destined to fall into Union hands.

Seth reading me his letter from home
Seth reading me his letter from home

Now you may be thinking that this photo has been faked. Well, no comment, and I won’t deny that just about anything can be easily faked these days. If I had Photoshopped it, here’s one way I might have gone about it.

My Simple Photoshop Ghost Recipe

1) In Photoshop I would open a Civil War photo file, select the soldier and drag him into the photo file of me standing by the cannon. Doing this creates a new layer.

2) After sizing and positioning the soldier, I would add a layer mask and mask out parts of him by painting on the mask to make him fit behind the cannon barrel.

3) Next make a copy of the soldier layer and add a horizontal motion blur value of about 60 or so to the copy. Set the opacity of this blurred layer to about 70% and put it beneath the original in the layer order, offsetting the blurred layer by just a hair so that it wasn’t perfectly lined up with the original on top, giving it even more of an out-of-focus ethereal look.

4) The original soldier layer I would then set to an opacity of about 60% and then paint on the layer mask with a soft airbrush to fade out areas I wished to be even more transparent or vanish altogether.

5) To add a sepia tone to all the Photoshop layers simply add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer at the top, click the colorize check box and adjust the hue and saturation until you get the color you want.http://$domain/ll.php?kk=11

Pic of the Day: Comet Hyakutake

Digging around in some of my old film shots I ran across this photo of Comet Hyakutake I took in 1996. It was a rare try at an astronomical image (something I want to do more of) and mediocre at best, but since I had never tried scanning the film negative of this shot, this became a technical exercise more than anything. My shot pales in comparison to the many beautiful images of Hyakutake taken by seasoned astrophotographers, but still it was a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime viewing event and I had a blast taking the shot. One hour photo prints being what they are (or aren’t), I wanted to see what I could do with this old negative on my present day Canon 8400f flatbed in 35mm film scanning mode. I was pleased to see the improvement I was able to make over the print. In Photoshop I ran a noise reduction filter, added a curves layer to fine tune the contrast and a hue/saturation layer to darken certain colors and reduce some of the atmospheric haze bringing out the tail a bit more. The 30 sec. exposure (using Fujicolor 1600 film) as you can see is a bit long and the stars are just beginning to elongate due to earth’s rotation, but all in all not a bad attempt and a fun memory.

 

Comet Hyakutake