Focus

Straven Road, 2013.
Straven Road, original photo – Christchurch, 2013.

Last week, I had one of those ‘so that’s how they do it’ moments. I read about a clever piece of kit called a tilt-shift lens (used by photographers to control the way perspective appears in an image) and a way of mimicking the lens in Photoshop. With the right photo, you can digitally blur and manipulate it to make places and people look like miniatures. Even without the right photo, it’s still an interesting effect.

Miyazu Garden, 2013.
Miyazu Garden, 2013.
Miyazu Garden, original photo – Nelson, 2011.
Miyazu Garden, original photo – Nelson, 2011.

The latest version of Photoshop apparently has a ‘tilt shift’ blur feature but, really, it’s pretty straightforward: apply a reflected gradient and a lens blur so that parts of the image are out of focus, then adjust saturation and contrast to make the colours look more artificial.

The effect tends to work best with photos of people/vehicles/buildings taken from an elevated viewpoint. You don’t have to hire a helicopter to get a suitable photo… but climbing several flights of stairs to get just a little bit higher could make all the difference. With that in mind, I’m now on the hunt for really good photos to miniaturise : )

My thanks to Hovercraftdoggy for their inspirational We make models post (which includes a link to a tilt-shift photography Photoshop tutorial).

Unexpected outcomes, part two

Toy museum – ink sketch and final image.
Toy museum – ink sketch and final image.

An unexpected outcome doesn’t always add magic to an image. Serendipity is a wonderful thing but, unfortunately, not all accidents are pleasant surprises.

Toy museum is a good example. It’s an ink sketch that I scanned and coloured digitally. While I was drawing it, I realised it would have to be reworked ― a stray line here, an unfortunate expression there ― but rather than starting again (something my tutors at design school would have insisted on), I kept calm, carried on and decided that I would correct modify those bits later. It’s not cheating; it’s a kind of mixed media that includes digital tools : )

If you compare the sketch with the final image, quite a few things haven’t changed at all, but I had trouble with some of the faces and so I edited them in Photoshop. I tweaked a few other things as well but not too much — I didn’t want to take away the personality of the drawing.

Ironically, knowing that I CAN change something later means that I tend to relax and enjoy my art more and then, more often than not, I DON’T NEED TO change anything. And I like it when that happens too.

Cozy

Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #1 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #1 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #2 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #2 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #3 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #3 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #4 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #4 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #5 – surface pattern.
Cozy Knit (spots and stripes) #5 – surface pattern.

These were my entries for the recent Tigerprint Spots and Stripes design competition. The brief was to come up with a fresh take on surface patterns featuring spots and stripes and to follow key colour trends for spring/summer 2014.

The main pattern was taken from the little angel I drew for Shoot it, Sketch it a few weeks ago. I scanned the original ink drawing and edited it as a vector illustration. I ended up with quite a few combinations I really liked but had to narrow it down to just five. I picked a couple of the brighter patterns, a couple in some rather yummy grey-blue tones and one that looks a bit like knitted brown paper.

No, they didn’t win, but that’s not why I enter competitions. I do it for the challenge, for the experience and because it’s fun to have a go. Anything more than that is a bonus : )