No, the idea for this work of art does not have any religious background although it sounds that way. It is an experimental work of art, which represents my occupation with symbols and their meaning. As we know, surrealists like DalÃ, Magritte, Bosch or Escher often hid messages, visions and dreams in their artwork, which they depicted through certain symbols.
The original title: “When angels are no longer desired” describes in this artwork the situation of a well meaning friend in need who tries to show somebody the right door in life but gets nothing but ingratitude in return for his helper efforts.The helper appears as a human being (mask), the good will inside him (represented by the wings) would like to show the way (the light), although it is guided by some higher power (the marionette limbs and the lines) and seems to be a stranger (strange form of the head) .As far as the implementation is concerned, many small and often very time-consuming steps are needed which require much experience with the respective software applications. Drawing and creative skills are undoubtedly the prerequisites without which such a work of art cannot be developed, no matter in which technique. What does the proverb say? “All roads lead to Rome”: and so the techniques described here represent my working method which i combined especially for this workshops to seize the opportunity to give many small hints in the margin. Of course, working solely on a computer is one possibility. However, the challenge for me is to take an artwork out of the computer, split it into its components in order to combine them anew, refine them with traditional painting methods and then scan it again to make it apt for reproduction, much larger. This step by step is supposed to induce you to develop your own ideas and give you hints how to implement them. As an artist, you are also a researcher to a certain extent and particularly in the fields of digital and mixed media there is lots of pioneering work to be done until this kind of art is established and accepted. As a basic requirement, I hypothesize that you are acquainted with the functions of a computer and have some basic knowledge in Photoshop. I will explain some commands more thoroughly during the workshop; however, it is always better to try things out yourself. The term “rendering” should be known, it means the computer-controlled calculation of a 3D-model. The equipment: PC or Mac with at least 800 MHz, 1 GB RAM, and enough hard disk space, Photo printer at least A4,A4 scanner with 600 dpi minimum, Wacom tablet, at least A6 large Photoshop 7.0 or newer Poser 3, Watercolor, Ovalit-T fibre glue, airbrush paint (e.g. Createx), black acrylic paint in a tube, ready covered and pre-primed canvas, fixa- tive and clear coat and of course bristle brush and airbrush.
Fig.1 I do a sketch to get an overview of the photo references that I need. The doors in the background (synonyms for the opportunities in life) are supposed to add some depth and three-dimensionality to the composition. As I cannot always take all the photographs myself I also take to some stock photos, which are available for free on the internet (e.g. www.deviantart.com or www.sxc.hu).
Fig. 2 We start with Poser 3 (in the meantime,version 6.0 is available, but the old and already available version is all I require for my purpose). As I do not like to rely on the rendering capacities of this semi professional software and it takes too long to familiarize myself with more professional ones I quickly texturize the characters in Photoshop. Afterwards, all I have to do in poser is the right adjustment of the character, the illumination, the perspective, the camera angle and the colors of the background. To describe all this would be overkill, but Poser is probably the simplest 3D software available and almost self-explaining. The artwork was displayed in 300 dpi resolution at 2000 x 2000 pixels and saved as a .tiff file. In the rendering settings you may also determine the colors of the skin and the environment (however, as Poser”s renderer is not very good, you will have to work it over in Photoshop). When positioning a figure, polygons overlap every now and then. Unfortunately, this problem has not been mended until version 5.0. For those who would like to apply beautiful and maybe experimental textures I recommend tosave the file as .3ds or Lightwave object and to buy some better 3D software (3D Studio Max or Cinema 4D).
Fig. 3 I have restricted myself to a size of 30 x 40 cm. Thus, the artwork is a printable file (and it also looks quite good as a work of art in a shadow gap frame). Moreover, with only two parts it may rather easily be scanned again afterwards. In “file -> new” I create a new picture in Photoshop (Fig. 3). Take care to determine the measurements in centimeters and the resolution in 300 dpi – pixel/inch…not pixel/cm! Dpi are dots per inch and setting pixel/inch is nearest to this unit in print while at pixel/cm (1 cm = 2,54 inches) much more pixels or points are on one cm than would be there in the inch setting!
Fig. 4 Now I open the result of Poser”s rendering in Photoshop. With the arrow symbol it is easy to drag & drop an already open picture into a newly created one. The software automatically creates a new layer for the newly inserted image. As the newly inserted figure looks quite small on the large sheet of paper and I have to work it over anyway, I “interpolate” the size with the following function: With -> edit ->free transform I have deformed the inserted image somewhat and magnified it to the size of the whole picture (see Fig.5). Please note: As this is a reference, nothing gets lost in enlarging! Hint: Two alternatives for those who do not want to switch to miniature view every time they open their work in Photoshop: 1) Unfortunately, the integrated browser (standard since PS 7.0) is a little slow when opening files which contain many images with more than 500 mb.To make up for that, it even displays EXlF data of photographs. 2) The simpler method: with the Mac Finder or the PC Explorer (switch to miniature view) and simply drag and drop the image you need into Photoshop.
Fig. 5 As you can see on the arm, the rendering results are not very good and enlarging the figure of course also blew up these mistakes. Therefore, it needs to be worked over. As the figure is cut into pieces anyway to give it a marionette”s appearance, I cut certain areas like arm and hands with the polygon lasso and insert them again which turns the single limbs into relocatable elements on separate layers. While cutting, I may strike out somewhat and I do not need to meticulously follow the contours because the newly inserted layer may be freed fr0m the background parts with one click of the magic wand (beside the lasso tool). The great advantage of setting the poser rendering tool to “monochrome background”: this regular background may be easily removed in Photoshop.
Fig. 6 With the clone stamp I add the shadows in the original layer now (and smoothen some polygon mistakes at the same time like e.g. at the throat, the indented shadows and the arms). The advantage of the copy or clone stamp is that you take up a pattern or a picture information to insert it at a chosen place in exactly the same size as determined before.The grade of transparency/opacity may also be adjusted. Later on I will use this tool to free the scanned artwork fr0m impurities. As you can see at the fingers have made some changes to the figure in the “liquifier”l The filter “liquify” is new to Photoshop 7 and was available as a plug-in by Kai”s Powertools before. With this filter, images may be distorted, swirled and even partially mirrored. It may be a very handy tool when it is used the right way (also for caricatures).
Fig. 7 As a next step I do the light bulb, which I cut with the “magnetic lasso”: The lasso automatically adapts to the outlines in contours with much contrast. The polygon lasso is hidden as a second symbol under the lasso -just press a little longer! As I mentioned before I switch to the “drag & drop arrow” then and use it to simply drag the selected light bulb into my picture. There I turn it into the right position with the command “edit ->transform -> rotate 180″(Fig.8).
Fig. 8 Unfortunately, I cannot take the circle of light around the bulb with the polygon lasso.Therefore, I use a simple trick: I copy the white area once more with the magnetic lasso and insert it as a “new layer:”With the filter “Gaussian Blur” within the filter selection “blur”I may then control the “glow”effect step by step. As this filter has a real time preview, you may estimate the result very well while setting it.
Fig. 9 After one hour and a half, it is time to think everything over once more. If something is wrong at that stage or if I cannot find a suitable reference, I may discard everything and start anew …Luckily, this did not happen here. With a pattern for the golden section/golden spiral, which I place over the artwork as a new layer, I may now control whether the arrangement of the composing also comes up to the mathematic and aesthetic composition rules. After some minor changes I may start working. Finally. I start with some texture for the skin. It ought to appear slightly coarse, as if it had been treated with desert sand, something extraordinary for the face that includes expression and dignity.
Fig. 10 Thanks to the Poser rendering settings for the single colored background it was quite simple to knock out the figure. Now I drag the texture into the picture and enlarge it with “edit-> free transform” until the figure is covered. Then I drag the texture layer behind the figure and return to the figure layer (which is still connected to the background at that moment). With the magic wand I then choose the gray background and fr0m the menu “select-> inverse” the figure which I cut and integrate into the image with “edit-> insert:”Clicking the same layer again with the magic wand selects the outline of the figure once more. Now I switch to the texture layer I had selected before (a simple photograph of a wall) and cut the background so only a silhouette of the figure remains. After that, this layer i s placed on top of the figure and treated with the layer effect “overlay” to obtain the result shown in Fig. 10.
Fig. 11 I have made this edited photograph of a friend some time ago. It is ideal to show the mood of the lighting situation and the desired facial expression. I cut the part out with the polygon lasso and insert it mirrored with the command”edit -> transform -> flip horizontal:”Of course, some corrections must be made to make the perspective appear more or less correct. I removed the piercing with the clone stamp and bent the nose slightly into the opposite direction with the liquifier … For the shadow of the facial mask I have copied the layer, placed it under the other layer and turned down the brightness with the control command “image -> adjustments -> hue/saturation”: With the blur (Fig. 11) I created a soft edge afterwards.
Fig.12 At Deviantart.com I found an interesting photograph suitable for the head. I cut it and created a transition at the lower rim with the big eraser. Things are slowly getting into shape now. Now I start doing the wings (4 wings ought to be enough). I also found the wings at deviantart.com (thanks to http://KaSstock.deviantart.com and http://don-sarcasmo-stock.deviantart.com).
Fig. 13 With the magic wand and “select-> color range” I can cut both pairs of wings neatly and attach them to the back. The second pair of wings that only appears like a shadow is just a copy of the front pair. Meanwhile, I have taken a larger step in the background. As the figure has been completely cut out of the background, I may place it onto any photograph. The floor texture e.g. consists of a photograph of a wall whose perspective I distorted with “edit -> free transform”:
Fig.14 Here I give you a view of the layer inspector, which is quite busy with 28 layers. When you do extensive composings in Photoshop rather often,you stop naming every single one of them for mere lack of time. In the meantime, I can see the position of each layer fr0m their sequence. However, own names make it clearer. The sky. It consists of two photographs in similarcolors,which I found in my photo archive and simply put behind the whole composition to try them. The selected layer 15 (see Fig. 14) has been applied to the background layer (Fig. 14) with 57 % opacity and the layer effect “screen”: The advantage of the layer effects lies in the possibility to cancel them at any time and to apply them to only one layer. I inserted the floor in a similar way and then adjusted it to the colors of the remaining artwork with “image -> adjustments -> levels”: By the way, the floor level has been erased on the edges towards the middle of the artwork with a large eraser at 50 % pressure.
Fig. 15 Sometimes you have to put the picture upside down or, as shown in this example, look at the mirrored version to perhaps improve the perspective. Until now, the one thing that annoyed my while composing was that there is no “entrance” to the artwork. The character stood with its back towards the entrance and so blocked the way into the picture. A simple turn may improve the overall situation considerably … just try to do this in conventional paintings… To give the composing a glowing, almost dreamy touch, I bathe the whole artwork in one color. A shaken archived photograph of an architectural nighttime exposure, which you would delete immediately under normal circumstances, has the necessary glow to bathe the rest of the artwork in ochre hues all over under the layer function vivid light”: So I have created a completely different lighting situation in a brace of shakes.
Fig.16 shows a little trick for those who have enough space on their monitor or those who do not want to name every single layer but in spite of that like to know which layer they are on at any time; with one click of the tiny arrow (see circle in Fig. 16) a context menu for the layer inspector pops up which contains various features, e.g. the layer palette. There, you may adjust a miniature view of the single layers to your own requirements.
Second part of the tutorial, “Finishing The Angels” will be available on ArtCone next week. Stay tuned!