Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photoshop Tutorial

I like working in Photoshop (and want to keep expanding my skill set), so I found this tutorial on creating a fiery sky with a comet coming in over the city. Here's the URL:
I'm not completely happy with how it turned out. The overall effect is pretty good, if you don't look too closely. This tutorial was a bit vague on the explanations, just presenting the steps and settings for the various adjustment layers, and not always specifying which layer they were working with. I would have liked it to explain more WHY; that would be helpful when using different images, as I was. I especially had issues when it came to adding the fiery clouds. There are supposed to be exploding particles around some of the buildings, but even though I downloaded the brush set they were using, I couldn't seem to get the same effect. So I did learn some effects, but I feel like I didn't get the whole picture. Maybe I bit off more than I could chew, with this one!

3D Coat paint and render

This assignment uses a program called 3D Coat to paint a 3D model. Since I am not great at creating models, I used a toy plane from Lightwave Classic Content. You can choose from various brushes and textures to paint with in this program; I tried out a texture, but that didn't look right for this particular model, so I stuck with (boring) flat paint. The thing I found most challenging was getting paint on every surface; I felt like I was rotating my model round and round and round and...well, you get the picture. I find 3D work to be a bit frustrating, maybe my mind just does not work that way? The hardest part was the junction of the body to the nose cone, I had to keep going over and over it, because the yellow would get onto the red part, then the red onto the yellow. I was wishing that this object was made of layers, so that I could turn them off/on while painting, but it wasn't. Overall, I didn't enjoy this assignment very much, and I don't like the end result. Maybe if I was able to spend more time with it, experimenting with the different textures and materials, but I felt like I just had to get it done quickly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

After Effects Morph with Radio Waves

This was interesting, if somewhat complicated to set up: creating a morph "radio waves" effect on a series of words. I typed the words in Illustrator, converted to outlines, prepped them by making sure all the letters touched, released Compound Paths to delete the interiors of any letters, then used Pathfinder>Unite to create a single object. Copied each word and pasted into After Effects composition as a mask, then created keyframes for placement on the timeline and copied keyframes to combine into a Morph layer. I did that for each word, and created a star shape/keyframe to place between the words. Then added the Radio Waves effect, and placed a Photoshop gradient background. THEN place into PremierePro to add music (plus searching for a sound loop that wasn't awful!) I'm not sure I like the final product, the words seem hard to read; maybe I should have used a different color combo, or lower case letters? Can you read it? It takes SO long to render, I didn't feel like doing it again!

Vinyl Sign

This was a fun assignment, creating a design for a vinyl sticker. Obviously, it had to be simple shapes and solid colors. This idea just came to me, almost complete from the first. I drew the purple shape with the star tool, experimenting with  the number of points and angles, then stretching it to be more oval, and converting the corner points so they were rounded. The orange segments started with the oval shape tool, converting the bottom point to a corner, then adjusting the shape to fit, copying, flipping and rotating as needed. I always copy my text several (many!) times to apply and compare different typestyles before I find the one that seems right. Importing my shapes into the cutting software was a little frustrating; even though I followed the directions exactly, it seems that some stray guidelines were causing problems. (Thanks, Brian, for helping me figure that out!) My first cut for the text was pulling up some of the edges, so Brian adjusted the depth of the blade (something else I never would have thought of), then it worked fine. One thing I noticed with this text, even though I made sure there were no gaps between the letters, and it is converted to outlines, the cutter still made the small cuts between each letter. I need to finish by applying the sticky backing to each, and apply them to a single layer, but that shouldn't be too difficult (I hope!) I've worked with vinyl application before at the Museum of Glass, so I'm familiar with the process; applying it is easier than creating it!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flash Cards

This assignment required creating "flash cards" for DSHS use. The images needed to be simple and easy to understand, as they may be using them with people who can't read or don't speak English. Each of us was given 4 phrases to illustrate. I got lucky with 3 of them referring to "time," so I reused my clock image for each of those. I imported photos or drawings I found on the web into Illustrator to use as templates; then used the brush tool to draw the image. Since I wanted a simple, clean look, I used an ink brush, adjusting the width profile as needed. The thing I really like about drawing on the computer is the ability to adjust the line afterwards, definitely a plus for me! In some cases, I needed to create a second shape for the color fill, as the brush tool does not always create closed paths that you can fill. The drawings turned out pretty much the way I wanted them, very basic with a hand-drawn look.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SLAM covers

For the SLAM covers, I wanted to do two really different treatments and I think I succeeded. I started in Illustrator with the plainer logo treatment on the left, but of course I had to bring it into Photoshop to jazz it up. I got the idea to do a pattern of the "SLAM" type as a background, and then by working my way through some of the PS patterns to add to it and use on the large SLAM, it eventually took shape. I guess I want it to look kind of like an engraved sculpture against grass.  I think it turned out pretty interesting and different from what I have seen on previous covers.
The one on the right is my favorite, though. I had the idea of the doorway that's actually a book, spilling out light. I went on a photo shoot for some interesting doors and found this one. I spent a lot of time on this design, as I had to "open" the door by selecting it, copying to a new layer, and distorting so it looks like it's opening. I then added the pages image on a separate layer and created the light by using the polygonal lasso tool to draw the shapes, filling them with yellow, and adding and adjusting the glow. I darkened the image with a black fill, adjusted for opacity, and use a layer mask to knock out the glowing areas. I continued the glow theme on the text, so it would really stand out on the darkened image. Overall, I'm very happy with the final image, but it did take a lot of time!

Creating Brush Sets

The goal of this assignment was to create and use two brushes in both Illustrator and Photoshop. For the top left example (Illustrator), I used an existing paintbrush style, made an interlocking "wavy" pattern with it, and used that for my art brush. The border is a series of painted straight lines joined together, and the flower pattern is a series of curved lines. For the brush on the right, I drew a lightning bolt shape and made that into a scatter brush. The art brush was definitely easier to use; the flower pattern came about by accident, while I was experimenting with shapes and I really liked the distortion. What I found frustrating with the scatter brush was the adjustments; I can see you have to do a lot of fine-tuning to get the look you want!
For the Photoshop brushes, I used an image of moss growing on a wall, selected an area of the moss that I liked and defined that as my brush. Again, a lot of tweaking the various settings for scatter and color, but I think it turned out pretty well. I didn't have a lot of inspiration for my 2nd brush, so I used an interesting font, and just made a cartoon "swear". (That's kind of how I was feeling at that point!) I don't like it as well as the organic shape.