An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Tag: Art (Page 1 of 6)

Finger Exercise-Autumn on River

Here’s another finger exercise. For an explanation of what that is, click on this link to go to an earlier post about the subject.

This one is a photo of the Blackfoot River in western Montana (or a tributary of the Blackfoot-I seem to have forgotten) that I shot back in 2007. Here’s the original photo:

And here’s the quick exercise I did, along with the layer stack in Photoshop:

Layer Stack, from bottom to top:

1. Original image, which I duplicated and made into a Smart Object. Then I ran it through the Filter Gallery—Palette Knife.
2. Added an orange colored Overlay and lowered the opacity to 51% with a soft light blend mode
3. Added an orange colored Texture and lowered the opacity to 50% with a lighten blend mode.
4. Then I merged all the layers (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E) and ran the composition through Boris FX and used a neutral density filter at the bottom of the comp.
5. Back in PS, I merged the layers again and ran the comp through ON1 Effects, but I didn’t care for the results, so I came back into PS and added a Color Lookup adjustment, using the Filmstock look.

And that was it. The whole thing took about 30 minutes and though the result certainly isn’t great, finger exercises don’t have to have a professionally perfect (whatever that is) look. They just have to get the creative juices flowing and they should be fun to do. I’ll put up some more of these exercises later.

Digital Art–Dominican Republic Cathedral

Here’s a piece that I’ve worked on that reflects some ideas I learned in one of my Photoshop Artistry courses. The key takeaway on this one is that the artist, Doris Seybold of Austria, goes through her enhancement of a piece by not adding any additional elements and having to go back to keep adjusting them, and adding more and readjusting, etc. It is a straightforward approach, going from one step to the next, not worrying about going back to adjust all the different elements. This is supposed to help foster a speedier workflow. You can read an interview with Doris by Sebastian of Photoshop Artistry, and you can check out her work on Behance. She’s really a wonderful artist, so give her a look.

I tried it with this piece, which probably could have used a bit more work, and mostly embraced the concept, but I “cheated” a little by going back to make some adjustments. So, below is the original photo, unenhanced, that I took of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, finished around 1540 and the first cathedral in the Americas. The second image is my final version of the cathedral.

P.S. I did add an additional element, sort of, by replacing the sky of the original with something a bit more dramatic.

cathedral

cathedral

Trying to Keep Up

I’ve been going through all my digital art resource files, trying to add them to Lightroom or to Photoshop. Such things as textures, photos, actions, patterns and others, ad infinitum, have been accumulating and haven’t been processed. In addition to adding these items to my large main laptop, I’ve been trying to get them added to the new smaller laptop. It seems like I’ve got hundreds of zip files from various sources that I’ve downloaded but haven’t unzipped them to put them into their relevant software locations. It’s a Herculean task that appears will never end. But, you know what “they” say: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

However, I have made some time for creating at least the beginnings of some new digital artwork. Here’s one that is just the germ of an idea. I don’t yet have a title for it and it’s probably only about 20-30% finished, but it’s been fun to work on so far.

More coming later. (I’m hungry–time to take a bit of “elephant.”)

Unsuccessful Digital Art

Not every digital art composition is successful. When I post a piece, I’m usually satisfied with the results and ready to throw it out there for others to see. Though it may not be as artistic as it might be, I’m usually OK with “less than perfect,” whatever perfect means. (I don’t think there really is any such thing as perfect.)

But, there are compositions I’m not satisfied with and that I have resigned to the basement corner, so to speak, for whatever reason. Maybe the work has no focal point or it doesn’t tell a story or it just doesn’t suit me for a myriad of other possible reasons. So, I don’t post them. Below are a few that I began working on and then stopped, giving up on them. For now. I will probably revisit them at a future date.

Here’s one I kind of like, a nighttime desert scene. In fact, it’s posted on my blog and I may have put it up on Facebook, but I’m not satisfied with it. It’s pretty nice, I think, but there’s no focal point, no story in the making, nothing to really capture a viewer’s attention. I tried adding some figures to it, like a camel caravan or some marauders preparing to raid the city, but they just didn’t work out so I abandoned the piece. This is one, though, that I’m sure I’ll come back to eventually.

I once read an internet site that had photos of some amazing nighttime gardens from around the world. I thought I had bookmarked the site, but I can’t find it now. Anyway, I got inspired by the photos and decided to create my own night garden. Here it is below. It features a Van Gogh-style impressionistic sky and a weird looking, but actual, building in Bangkok. I got frustrated with it and stopped, but I’m sure I’ll get back to this one, too.

The next one has potential, but again, there’s no real focal point. It’s from a photo of some artwork for sale on a sidewalk in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. I tried to add a tourist taking a photo, but that didn’t work out. I might come back to this one, too.

Finally, here’s one I probably won’t come back to, not without some extensive rework. It’s some buildings from Vientiane with an elephant walking in front of them. What’s the point, the story? Hmmm, probably won’t come back to this one.

The upshot is that not every composition is satisfactory to me and I have to learn why that might be so. Can I make them better, but not “perfect?” I’m sure I can. I’ll let most of them sit a while back in that dark corner of the basement and bring them out into the light later, dust them off and give ’em a go.

Photoshop Virtual Summit 4

Yes, Photoshop Virtual Summit 4 is here, running from May 2-6. This is a great event, loaded with Photoshop tutorials, tips and tricks, and it’s free. You can access the videos for 48 hours after a particular video, free of charge. But, I don’t have that much time to sit and watch everything, so I always purchase a VIP pass ($89, if you do the early bird special) that gives me lifetime access to everything, plus some extra goodies that only VIP holders get. It’s a great deal, really. Some of the tutorials offered this time around are Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Working with Layers in Photoshop; The Art of Sharpening; Essential Techniques for Realistic Composites; The Power of Smart Objects, and Dramatic Lighting and Realistic Shadows in Photoshop Composites with Sebastian Michaels, who is the creator of several of the Photoshop Artistry classes that I take.

There are 40 tutorials in all and you can check out the event here. It’s a great deal, but it’s almost finished now, so hurry if you want to watch them. If you can’t, there will probably be a Summit 5 later in the year. And, if you’re interested in getting started with Photoshop Artistry, Sebastian is running a Summit special of the main Photoshop Artistry course for only $87, and believe me, it’s an awesome course and well worth the money. (It’s usually almost $400!) Here’s the link [Note: offer expired] to that special offer. I don’t know how long that offer will stand, so check it out now if you’re interested. You’ll be glad you did. More later.

Digital Art–Rivals

Here’s my newest piece of digital art, one I’m titling “Rivals.” The photos and background textures are mine, except for the two birds–the one at the bottom and the one at the upper left; I got them from Pixabay.

digital art

In the news, Vientiane is still in lockdown, but the number of new community cases has fallen, and the school is being allowed to open on September 1st. Hurrah!! Hopefully. Although the number of cases has dropped from where it was, we’re still getting some. There were 7 cases reported a few days ago, but the government didn’t tighten up the restrictions already in place. The big concern might be the huge number of imported cases, Laos workers returning from Thailand by the thousands. About 10% of them have the virus and are being hospitalized or put under observation. They’re mostly quarantined off from the general population, so perhaps we won’t see much of an uptick with community cases. Thankfully, there have been only a few deaths reported. Keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well as far as the school reopening. More later.

Lockdown Continued

Yes, we’re still in lockdown here in Vientiane, though the government has eased some of the restrictions. Important for us is that some schools can begin to reopen, though most won’t be able to start up again until September; that includes Vientiane College. It’s frustrating, but, overall, the Lao government has been doing fairly well at keeping the virus out of the country. Lately, the only cases have been from Lao workers in Thailand who have been coming back to Laos. The government checks everyone at the border crossings and hospitalizes all who have the virus. I think there are a bit more than 2,000 people who are hospitalized at the moment, but there have been five deaths, which is five too many. Compared to our neighboring countries, though, we’re doing pretty good. Thailand and Vietnam have been getting hammered by the Delta variant, and Cambodia and Myanmar have also been having problems. Hopefully, vaccinations will keep increasing here in Laos (and elsewhere) so that this crap will end.

As far as Vientiane College is concerned, it will open again in September if all goes well. Thankfully, the administration has continued to pay us throughout the lockdown and most of the teachers are now doing some extracurricular work to prepare for September. I’ve been making some short (2-3 minutes) videos for posting on the VC Facebook page. I’m making some vids about idiomatic expressions (“piece of cake”) and a “Did you know . . .” series that other teachers are also doing. (Did you know that the 10 most common words in English are . . .?) I’ve also been doing some other odds and ends to try to earn my keep. LOL

I haven’t been doing much digital art lately, but I’m going to get back in the groove very soon. I’ve been playing around with Photoshop actions a bit, and here’s a comp that I want to work on some more. It’s an original photo of paintings being sold by a vendor in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic. I hope to add some more extras to it soon. More later.

Digital Art–Requiem for a Lost Civilization

My latest creation is called “Requiem for a Lost Civilization.” The ruins and the landscape are from photos of mine taken at the ancient Roman ruins in Volubilis, Morocco. The other elements are “stuff” I have from the various digital art courses I’ve taken from Photoshop Artistry, which I’ve recommended before and I’ll continue to give it a huge thumbs up.

I added some textures, some adjustment layers and some photos from the Ultimate Universe Creator by Skybox Creative, then ran the whole thing through Nik HDR Efex Pro 2. Finally, I added a Color Lookup adjustment layer in Photoshop.

requiem digital art

Digital Art–Taekwando Nightmare Dream

Vientiane lockdown has been extended for another few weeks, up to June 4th. At the rate people are still showing up with the covid virus, this lockdown will never end, it seems. The school is scheduled to open on June 10th, and I certainly hope that happens. The administration was kind enough to pay everyone for the month of May, though we didn’t do any work, but if the same lack of work extends far into June and beyond, I’m fearful that there won’t be any income for a while. Got my fingers crossed.

So, what to do with all this time off? Create some more digital art, of course. Here’s one I’m calling “Taekwando Nightmare Dream.” I was originally just going to practice creating displacement effects in Photoshop, but my Muse had other ideas. All the photos are mine, except for the fellow delivering the flying kick on the right side, which I got from Pixabay; they were taken when I worked in Andong, South Korea way back in 2005, and they’re photos from a phys. ed. student demonstration, except for the photo at the upper left. That’s one I took of my former taekwando master showing off. I added some textures and a few other bits and pieces. Enjoy.

digital art

Vientiane Still in Lockdown

Yes, we’re still on lockdown until at least May 20th, but the way things are going it’s going to last longer than that. Though Vientiane had only one case yesterday, we jumped to 14 today; way too many for the city to end the lockdown any time soon. So, if it goes on, there will be no school re-opening any time soon, so no pay, either. Gotta watch my expenditures!

Haven’t been doing a lot with artwork lately, though I have been keeping up with tutorials. I’d also like to learn how to draw, so I found a couple of free websites that look very interesting–Draw a Box and Ctrl+Paint. I’ll have to give one or both of them a try.

I messed around a bit with painting ideas in Photoshop and Topaz Labs this morning and came up with this, made from a photo taken in my favorite place on earth, Glacier National Park in Montana. Enjoy. More later.

glacier national park

Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park

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