In this in-depth tutorial we will tag along as Fantasio completes his artwork. You will see a complete walktrough from the photoshop composition till the finishing of the printing process.
Please note: this tutorial is a beginning of Starting “Angels No Longer Desired” tutorial. If you haven’t seen the first one I suggest you take a peek and then come back here.
Done? Alrighty, let’s continue…
Fig. 17 With my camera at hand, I start searching for suitable doors – and I find them! Once more, I select the files that I have just copied to my hard disk with the polygon lasso and drag them into my artwork with the drag & drop arrow. Hint: I recommend creating a suitable file system for reference photographs to ease their administration. Of course, these files ought to have category names; anything else does not make sense. When you have enough data you may save them by burning them on DVD.
Fig. 18 The artwork like it is now visible on the screen. For a computer illustration, this would sure be enough. However, I would like to create a unique original (which may not be reproduced at will by one hit on a button), one that may be touched and that will last longer than the constantly changing data systems of computer industry. And so the real work starts right now… The next step is split into two alternatives: when you need a good print for the next steps, you have the file printed in 30 x 40 cm on 90-120 gr mat paper on an Epson Stylus in (e.g. a copy shop). As an alternative, you may also print the single parts of the collage on your home printer (every standard ink jet printer with at least 300 dpi).
Fig. 19 I have opted for the Epson Stylus. The prints are better saturated and the pigmented ink is more durable than the usual ink jet brands. Now we have to pre-Fix and apply a thin layer of varnish. For the fixative, I have use simple finish that you may use for fixing acrylics, coal and graphite artwork. When it is dry, I apply some standard clear coat from a DIY store. As you can see in Fig. 19, the prints have some semi matte gleam (you get that result after about 3 layers of varnish). If you decide to use your home printer, please do use mat 90 gr paper – photo paper is not suitable for this kind of further processing.
Fig. 20 When the preparation of the prints is done, I start the further steps. For the large format version you cut one part out of one piece and the next part from another etc. (similar to Fig. 20) The single parts must fit approximately – take care! For the next step I need some fibre glue (paste would also do, but has a weaker hold). Now it becomes clear why I did varnish the pictures before – if you do not prepare them like that, the ink may be dissolved which causes smearing.
Fig. 21 With much patience and using a radiant heater I manage to apply the snippets to the canvas before they have a chance to go wavy. Canvas,in contrast to cardboard or wood, offers the advantage that the humidity may soak into the material at once. With hard and non-absorbent supports, I recommend the use of spray glue or Fixogum, which may be rubbed away from the surface of the picture.
Fig. 22 Approximately in the middle of the picture, or after about three hours and a half, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A nice patchwork texture appears and the motive starts appearing. Using this kind of collage, you get a very special effect with almost every motive. It is also interesting when used only for parts, e.g. for a certain area within the work of art.
Fig. 23 This looks quite good already, paper and glue cause a significant raise of the surface tension and the canvas is tautened considerably. Alas, this causes undesired “seams” where the pieces of paper butt instead of overleaping. These parts must be reworked afterwards with a fine brush and some paint mixed accordingly.
Fig. 24 Unfortunately, the colors on this photograph are somewhat distorted (because of the artificial light), but apart from that it looks quite acceptable. The details are still missing; yet, the most difficult part is over. I take my time for working out selected parts – time to establish my personal contact with the artwork once more. I lay some brushstrokes over the background with thinned tube watercolor and a bristle brush. With a 001 red sable I work between the pieces of the collage, the gaps and edges of the scraps to correct everything that still looks white in Fig. 24 with the respective hue.
Fig. 25 I mix most hues with yellow as a basic color, adding some van Dyck brown and manage the rest by adding more or less water. Now the reasons for my color selection become obvious: the less colors on the print, the easier you can mix them afterwards. I rework several parts with my Evolution airbrush – lighten up the light bulb and use white to spatter over a few areas.
Fig. 26 The gradients on the arm as well as the transition towards the wings is airbrush work. Tricking the viewers by using various techniques has always appealed to me! After I am done with brushes and airbrush I clamped some threads over the artwork with some yarn and glue by simply attaching them to the back of the stretcher. After that, I painted the frame with black acrylic paint from the outside to better adapt it to the shadow gap frame afterwards. When the work is dry and after applying another layer of varnish I could prepare everything for the scan.
Fig. 27 Scanning a 30 x 40 format has become quite simple for me in the meantime. Even a Schoellershammer size 50 x 70 does not take more than half an hour, including the assembly in Photoshop. And it is worthwhile, because reproductions are quite expensive and their quality i s not necessarily better. As you can see in Fig. 27, I first scan the lower part of the artwork. Hint: Those who do not believe in the quality of this technique ought to think about the following facts: A 50 x 70 board i s scanned in 8 parts at 600 dpi with an A4 scanner. However, it is only displayed at 300 dpi …in other words, we even get 100 x 140 cm at 300 dpi. As I may scan up to 1200 dpi with a normal scanner, I might even quadruple the display size – you could see every single hair of the plain cardboard texture, then. The actual quality only depends on the scanner itself.
Fig. 28 As you can see in Fig.28,l now scan the other part of the artwork (mind the 2-3 cm overlap that you need in the middle of the picture). Now that I have the two parts of the artwork in my computer, I simply have to combine them. Just get to the computer and unpack the graphics tablet – it is as simple as that!
Fig. 29 As you can see in Fig. 29, there is enough left of the right arm in the lower part of the picture, i.e. enough space to overlap. As the colors of the scans seem to be all right, I create a new file first (in the actual display size 30 x 40 cm, 300 dpi). Both scans may be positioned correctly using the command -> “image turn workplace -> turn 90″ to the right” and all you have to do then is drag & drop them into the new file.
Fig. 30 Now we start merging. I call this step “merging”even in German, because there is no better word to describe the amalgamation of single parts into one work of art. At first, I set one of the layers to 50% opacity (layer 2). With the layer inspector (Fig. 30, red mark below) the opacity may be adjusted continuously or by keyboard entry. Now you drag the picture on top of the other one with the arrow tool- mind the perfect fit! The zoom feature may be very helpful here.
Fig. 31 Now you may set the opacity to 100 % again. Hint: If, at to the drag & drop arrow, a small hook appears next to the feature “select layer automatically” (see red box Fig.31), you may select the layers simply by clicking on the layer which you are seeing on the screen. When dragging scanned partsof a picture, this feature is a real blessing.
Fig. 32 This picture shows a good view of the joint, which appears somewhat darker because of the scanner support. It does not matter because I always allow for 3 – 5 cm to be etched in order to remove exactly this kind of border. With a soft eraser (60 % opacity and size 100 pixels, soft edge) it is rather easy to erase the dark border using the graphics tablet and etching pen.
Fig. 33 After successfully completing the procedure, both layers have been reduced to one. And then the actual work begins. Armed with the clone stamp I start removing impurities caused by dirt on the scanner, dust etc. As you can see here, I select the clone stamp tool and select 50 % opacity/size 20 pixels in the settings. With the levels I light up the picture and correct the colors a little. Finally, I may remove the white border on the left and the dark edge on the right with the crop tool (see Fig. 33, too).
Now that the artwork is digitalized, one might play around with it a little and try out things. But that i s entirely up to you. After saving the file as a .psd and – for security reasons – as a .tiff, nothing can go wrong any more. I burn it on CD-ROM for archiving purposes and I still have an original to sell, as a reference, for prnting or just for my own wall. I hope this workshop has been interesting for Photoshop beginners as well as experienced users. Let us wait and see what comes next, maybe a sculpture that finds i t s way into the computer and back? Who knows?