Recently, I was asked to present a webinar via Adobe Connect to the Photoshop and Lightroom Facebook group (managed by Andrew Kavanaugh). Since I’ve been tinkering with the Clone Stamp tool (see this post), I decided it was time to bust out a new technique with it, one that replicates a style I’ve seen here and there for a few years but had never previously attempted. The overall effect fascinates me, and I plan to keep exploring the look and approach. Hit ‘more’ to get a link to the webinar which demonstrates the technique and see a larger version of my first attempt with this style.
Believe it or not, this effect is incredibly simple to perform, but it’s pretty hard to control it. A lot of this has to do with the incremental nature of the technique. While I explained the mechanics of it pretty quickly, I left aside discussion of how to get the effect to look a certain way. It’s pretty rare that I will teach any artistic elements, mostly because I intend for my audience to take the seed of knowledge and apply their own vision to it. In this case, there are so many possibilities that I didn’t want to filter out innovation.
[hilite img=”http://lightningsymphony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Dancer_thm.jpg” title=”See the Webinar” style=”1″]The Adobe Connect session was recorded and is available at the link.[/hilite]
One of the things that really catches my interest about this style is that it has so much detail and depth. It’s definitely something that requires patience and a little planning, and as I work on variations I’m struck by the need to save versions and work on many, many layers. The first few times I tried it, I kept merging and collapsing layers to keep organized, which I still recommend. But in exploring more about the look, I realized that I wanted to go back and change some things because I’d suddenly noticed that I wanted to try something new.
Unfortunately, this particular method doesn’t lend itself well to use with modern non-destructive techniques like using Smart Objects. You have to be good with layer management and planning. In my latest attempt, I organized layer groups by geographic area in the image. That is, I have groups for arms, legs, clothing, hair, etc. While they are all treated the same way, I felt the need to retain some history, some ledger of my work. For example, I realized in my fourth or fifth attempt that I wanted smaller and smaller details as I worked towards digits like toes and fingers. That meant I had to be more consistent and pay attention to brush size rather than simply randomly stamping as I had done previously.
So this is very much a work in progress, stylistically. I’ve seen many others use this general style, and I really don’t know what techniques they use. For myself, I need to keep working to master this particular look before I reach out and use it in new, unique ways. But I’m getting there! And I love how this method lets me be free with the abstraction of using detailed shapes while not having to worry about still making it look like the subject.
This has also given me some pause to consider what subjects and themes would best be suited to such an effect. I’m starting to pick up the camera again and learning to shoot models, so an upcoming task will be to develop a stylized lighting setup and other guidelines that support this kind of post processing.
If you give this effect a try, I’d love to see what you come up with! Please find me on Facebook or Twitter, or send me an email directly and share or ask questions. One of my favorite parts about sharing knowledge with others is seeing what the interaction yields. I’m always surprised and delighted by what develops 🙂