Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Self-Portrait Take 1 ...

The hardest part of a creative problem is getting started. This Self-Portrait doesn't satisfy the assignment requirements but it's a start. It got me thinking about what's important to me, what objects do I want to define me.

As a start it fulfills one requirement - that I appear in my self-portrait. (The image of me I used was taken by Thomas.) But that's the only requirement it fulfills. It uses 3 different types of input methods - not 4. The 4 it uses are a digital camera image, an object I scanned, and text entered in Photoshop. It also doesn't include multiple items that are important to me.

This Self-Portrait includes one item that is very important me - the motto I created from The Brand You exercise I did in preparation for writing my MBA entrance essays. It includes another item as well - a handmade greeting card from a former co-worker's partner. The handmade greeting card that I scanned and included is copyrighted by Kate Harper Designs.

Photoshop techniques that I used to create the image were Quick Masks, Clipping Masks, and Layer Effects.

I started the project by capturing scans of My Motto and the greeting card using my HP Photosmart C6150 All-in-One. I then searched for an image I liked that represented travel - I chose a photo I took on Route 80 from the front seat of my car somewhere in Colorado. I then looked for an image of me. I chose one that Thomas took of me at Vasona Park in Los Gatos.

I realized that the best resolution I would have in the final composite image was 200. So I made the decision to downsample all the digital images to that resolution. The Route 80 photo was initially 230 dpi and over 8.5" wide. I decided to wait on editing the width or rescaling the image until I had all the ingredients ready. (I cropped the image when I'd placed it to remove any portion of the image that didn't fall on the 8.5" x 11" page.)

As My Motto is who I am, I wanted it to be "inside" me. I accomplished this by creating a quick mask of me, saving the selection, inverting the selection and removing the background. To get a clean cut, I used a variety of brush strokes and sizes. It took about an hour until I was satisfied with my image and shadow.

Before I could add my image and shadow to the Route 80 photo I needed to change the image size. My image was 240 dpi and 16-bit Adobe RGB (taken with my Canon 30D) and the Route 80 photo after resizing was 2o0 dpi and 8-bit sRGB (taken with my Kodak DC4800). Once I changed the dpi and bits, I liked my scale versus the road and made no further modifications.

The scan of the greeting card wasn't straight. To fix this I cropped the card. When I set my crop frame I made sure to include all of the quote and child's drawing. I then rotated my crop frame so that it was parallel to the top edge of the quote.

My Motto is a collage of phrases and taglines taken from newspapers and magazines glued on an 8.5" x 11" page. When I scanned the image, the scanner added space to the right of the image. The page that the collage was mounted on also appeared yellow. I cropped the image to the 8.5" x 11" collage and then quickly removed the yellowish edges of the page.

Now that I had all my ingredients I was ready to mix them up. I created a new Photoshop file with the dimensions 8.5" x 11". The first image that I dragged into the empty file was the road as that would set the depth with the converging lines. I next dragged my image and shadow into the file. I repositioned my image and the Route 80 image until I was happy with the perspective.

To create my ghostlike appearance, I experiment with layer effects and Opacity settings. The Route 80 image has a Linear Dodge (Add) effect and an Opacity of 70%. The portion of My Motto that I applied as a Clipping Mask to my image and shadow has a Screen effect and an Opacity of 100%. I used a layer effect of Color Dodge on my image and applied a Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow.

Once I had the road and my image where I liked them I had empty space above and below. I filled the empty space with portions of My Motto. I then balanced my image with the scanned greeting card. I added it with a layer effect of Normal and an Opacity of 77%. I applied a Bevel and Emboss.