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The "process" of photo-art: How do you do it?

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  • The "process" of photo-art: How do you do it?

    As I look at results of Challenges, Artwork, etc here, and being in the learning stages myself, I can't help but to wonder.

    When faced with an Art Challenge, do you have an end product in mind, I mean, a definite result, or is it more of an idea that you work towards? Maybe I'm trying to analyze artwork too much, but as I read through someone's steps, I don't get the logical steps that made someone do that...

    Duplicate, invert, duplicate again, the Blend mode...sometimes it seems so random, I'm not sure how one learns to do that.

    I've downloaded Actions, and seeing how those are done am learning to take those and branch out from there...but at times it seems more floundering and random than any learnt skill, does that make sense?

    I can see that I get results from basic, playing around, trying things, but more often than not, I'm not documenting enough to be able to reproduce the effect.

    Perhaps it's the brain-fever causing this rambling...


  • #2
    I find it's a bit like "fly by wire" cooking - you start off, taste it, think "hmmm... it needs a bit more <insert flavour/tecture of choice here - and often this would be difficult to articulate>", add whatever, taste again... repeat until satisifed. The key is in having the artistic sensibilities to know what's lacking, and the technical knowhow to know what type of step will help to get you there. And for both of these practice, and following along with what others have done, seems to be a big help to the learning experience. Obviously along the way there's a lot of experimentation - and a fair amount of serendipity...


    • #3
      Leah gave a great explanation.

      There are probably people here who have a particular end product in mind and know what to add together to get that end result -- but even those folks had to experiment to see what tools in PShop or PSP would produce that vision in their mind.

      I was skeptical when the photo art forum and challenges were added here -- but I've found that by experimenting with the different layer blend modes and filters to do "photo art", I've learned much about what to expect when I work within Photoshop. At first, I just blindly ran thru a bunch of layer blends and filters to see if I could find something that looked good to me -- then I learned how to anticipate a certain effect if I added certain combinations together.

      So? So, jump in and experiment -- whether it's "playing around", or "working at it", or "experimenting", or "practicing" -- it's a great, fun way to learn, have fun, and end up with a creation that makes you proud.


      • #4
        for photo art, there's only been a couple instances where I was actually going for a specific effect, most of the time it's just experimenting to see what kind of filters, brush strokes etc. compliment each other well.

        - David


        • #5
          I have o agree with the others on this . I usually have something in mind but it takes some experimentation to get the desired results. Sometimes I end up with something completely different to what I had in mind but if I'm happy with the result then that's all that matters. I should record my steps better than I do but I get carried away with the doing rather than recording what I did. It makes it hard to duplicate the effect if I really like it that way so I must try to be more organized.


          • #6
            At any given time I'm ususally working on a Phothoshop action (or two) of the week. So, when presented with an image to work on, for example a new mini-challenge, I might try the new action on it. Not real scientific, but predictable for me.

            If "new action of the week tanks an image "(and, believe me, happens often), I'll fire up a couple actions out of the "tried and usually true" coral. I haven't gotten to the point where I can look at a base image and come to the immediate conclusion, "Well, action X will work on that one!" There's still a LOT of trial and error.

            Lately I've gotten into running an image through several actions, until I get 2-3 renditions I like. (I just close the rest.) I go on to tweak the individual images until I like it, and flatten as a last step. Then, in a new file, I copy / paste the individual versions onto separate layers and blend them together using layer masks.

            For example in one version I might like the "background" better than another, so I'll include the background via layer mask. Another might do a better job on the people, so I'll layer mask in the people from that version, and so on.



            • #7
              I usually look at an image for a while and see what it makes me feel like. (Sounds odd, I know.) If it makes me feel sad, or happy, or like laughing, I just follow that feeling where it leads me. Happy images get lighter treatments with lots of light and quick brush strokes, more somber pictures get heavier treatments.

              Then it's just as Leah and CJ play around and "taste" blend modes and layers and masks and filters until you get something that feels like what you wanted it to feel like. But I'd say at least half the time I end up with something that wasn't what I was originally shooting for.

              You'll also start to get a feel for what photos lend themselves well to what types of treatments. Not all images can be good sketches, for instance.


              • #8
                Here are the common scenarios for me.

                1. I look at the image and think of visual change that might be nice, and a filter that might get me there. Then I apply the filter, and 90% of the time I'm wrong. So I try to fix the result by using standard photo-correction techniques or other filters. Sometimes I am able to do this. But usually I see something happening to the picture along the way that seems like a better path to follow. So I just go with that

                2. I have no idea what to do with the image, I only know that I want to try. So test a few simplification methods to see which one appears to be opening up the most promising path. Then it becomes just like the first scenario.

                I also have some general goals as I work.

                1. The picture must not look photographic when I'm done.

                2. It should have a color and feel that stirs something in me.

                3. Color, texture, and feel are the stars of the show. Painterly effects can support this, but they must never interfere with it.

                4. It's okay to drop the above goals from time to time and just do something because it's fun or interesting.