I’m a terrible blogger. I know.
I neglected to update on here for months. Don’t worry, I felt remorse about it.
So instead of sitting here groveling, I think I’ll move on to more positive issues.
So what have I been up to recently?
1. I presented (and submitted) my paper/PC (professional contribution) to fulfill my Master’s requirements in late April/Early May. The final title was Exploring Misconceptions of the Digital Approach In Art and it focused on solidifying digitally-created art as a viable artform, much like painting and photography. During the time I was writing and editing my paper, I came across many interesting articles about art – composition, definitions (or the lack thereof), emerging forms, emerging artists…it was fascinating. I bookmarked dozens of papers that I have slowly been digesting.
My paper and presentation were approved with only minor corrections, a rarity in the department. I will be posting it soon, after I lay it out in InDesign and pretty it up. It’s a work in progress.
2. Later in May, I graduated from Marywood with my Master’s in Communications. It was a strange feeling being in the same place that I had been exactly two years prior because this time I was so much more aware of my surroundings and of why I was there. I was more present, if that makes sense.
3. I landed my first job in the art and design field in February, doing advertising and printed media design at a small company about half an hour away. The company works with several media groups across the US and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with publications in Las Vegas. Of all the media conglomerates we work with, Las Vegas clients are the most demanding but they also allow the most creativity and design freedom. My favorite (and least favorite, depending on the day) types of advertisements that I do are known as ‘inserts’ – high-gloss paper publications. These are mainly menus and coupon sheets, but they usually come with the instruction to, “be creative”. At times, they are tedious, strenuous and exhausting, but they also have the greatest payout, in terms of the ‘wow factor’ when completed.
Shortly after I was hired, I was asked to take on responsibility and become a co-lead artist, meaning I have the authority to contact the production managers and advertising managers in Las Vegas as well as have the creative authority to create new concepts and assist fellow designers with their work and encourage them to improve what they have done. This added responsibility allows me to use the management skills I worked on in graduate school.
4. I adopted a new cat from the nearby animal shelter! He is a young adult male cat, all black, and was named Dude by the shelter staff. He joins Eevee, the abandoned kitten that I took in at only 5 weeks old. They are an odd couple; playing one minute and fighting the next, but Eevee’s energy counterbalances Dude’s aloof-ness. They greet me at the door when I come home and make life interesting, and isn’t that what life should be?
I plan on making blogging updates more routine than I have in the past, and I hope to upload samples of what I do with Las Vegas shortly. Yay for updates!
Another wonderful paper I’ve come across. This article is by Bob Gill and you can see it in its original format here.
Otherwise Forget It
The audience for graphic design is the same audience that will have seen the latest alien movie and the hottest music video with special effects that are absolutely dazzling. How can a graphic designer compete with this magic? We don’t have the technology or the budgets, or the time. If we want to attract attention to our work, we have to go to the other extreme. We have to go to reality! We must take a careful look at the real world and, in effect, say to our audience, “Look! have you ever noticed this before? Even though it was right under your nose.” That, to me, is more exciting than the most amazing special effects. And there’s another thing about the situation today that graphic designers must recognize. Before computers, the production of printed matter was in the hands of designers and printers. Most clients had only the vaguest idea how it was produced. And they were prepared to pay well for their logos, newsletters, brochures and other business paper.
Now, for very little money, it’s possible to buy a program which allows anyone with a computer to produce most of the stuff for the average business. The mystique has finally gone out of ordinary design and print. These programs fit words and images into slick professional looking formats. And for low–end commercial needs, that’s perfectly fine. So, if a typist can do much of the work previously done by well–paid specialists, what’s left for the designer? Designers have to do things that a typist with a computer can’t do. This means that they have to be problem solvers, if they are to survive. And, unfortunately, thinking is not the designer’s first love. They love choosing colors, pushing type and shapes around, drawing in a particular style and imposing the latest graphic tricks on their next job, regardless of whether they are appropriate or not.
They get these tricks from the culture. Most designers spend their time trying to emulate what’s supposed to be hot, what’s current, what’s trendy. But just think, if we want to do something the computer in the hands of a non–designer can’t do, something that’s original, how can we rely on what the culture tells us? (The culture tells all of us the same thing.)
A few mega–corporations inflict this culture on us. Their virtual monopoly of TV, fashion, pop and rock‘n’roll music, cable, theatre, magazines and film, etc., is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator which, in turn, allows them to merchandise the most stuff: Obama action figures and Kelly Clarkson t–shirts, for example. Of course, the establishment allows just enough high culture to prove that they’re not only Philistines. How can you extricate yourself from this avalanche of white–bread, so that you can be an original thinker? First purge your mind of as much cultural baggage as possible. When you get a job, regardless of how familiar the subject, resist any temptation to think you know enough about it, and that you’re ready to design. Assume that all of the information and imagery was supplied by the culture, that none of the information or imagery is original.
Research the subject as if you know nothing about it. And don’t stop until you have something interesting, or even better, something original to say. That’s the most likely way of producing an original image. The design process can begin only after you are satisfied with the statement. Listen to the statement. It will design itself. Well, almost. As there are trillions of images assaulting your audience, competing for their attention, the least you can do is not have the words and images in your design competing with each other. Take a statement like, “we cure cancer for one dollar.” It isn’t necessary to make those words look interesting. They are interesting. If you try to make interesting words look interesting, the way they look competes with their meaning. Also. if you want to draw attention to an interesting image, the words that accompany it shouldn’t be unusual. Design is problem–solving. Most designers are not very interested in problem–solving. They’re more interested in producing work that looks good. That’s like the mathematician who, before knowing the problem, knows that the answer is 128. Designers who know their solution must consist of lots of white space, and a particular typeface, etc., before they know the problem, are just like the mathematician who knows that the answer is 128. What is good design is what communicates best in an original way, even though it doesn’t conform to our preconceptions of good design. No image or color or typeface is always good or always bad. What makes it good is if it’s the best image or color or typeface that says exactly what you want to say. Otherwise forget it.
I asked for a raise today. Easily one of the most nerve wracking and time-consuming things I’ve done this week.
As I am in full-blown Thesis/Professional Contribution mode, I am already kicking myself that I didn’t get an earlier start. Currently, I am elbow-deep in research in all sorts of areas of art and design, and I came across a fascinating article by Joy Manesiotis, entitled “What I Learned in Art School”.
Perhaps the most important aspect of being immersed in a culture of
visual art training was that it gave permission: permission to see “with new
eyes,” as Adrienne Rieh says, to see as an artist, to see as “other,” which is to
say, to see in ways not defined by the mainstream culture, to be attentive
to a shifting visual world most likely invisible to most people.
In hour after hour in drawing class, or working alone in my studio, I came
to understand a work of art as both artfact/object and process simultaneously.
By process, I mean a continual process, not just the physical process of
being made, but the afterlife, the process that continues once the piece is
“completed” or not being worked on actively by the artist, when the piece
has become a dynamic entity of its own and moves into a second stage, of
being acted on by the viewer, engaging a form of reciprocity directed
outward, when the “gaze” of the painting is turned back on the viewer.
I hope to come across more profound articles such as this in my research.
I stumbled upon (not to be confused with StumbleUpon) this website today and I am fascinated.
Ahh, I finally remembered to update my blog! I am so excited!
I’m almost finished the fall semester class and I couldn’t be happier. This semester consisted of interning, an ‘independent study’ class, and media management. Despite that they weren’t too strenuous or all-consuming, I will be very pleased to be able to set my sights directly on my thesis and contribution. I had wanted to focus my paper on art being redefined in our digital age, but now I’m not so sure. I’m interested in social media and their increasing importance to advertising, as well as management (as prompted by my media management class). I’m always so wishy-washy. I’m also a terrible decision maker. Once I pick there’s no turning back, and I want to make my decision soon.
I’ve added some new pieces of work to my portfolio page. Please check it out!
Life is busy now…I am working on the outline to my thesis/graduate paper, creating a lesson plan for the web design class which I am a teaching assistant, contributing to my Media Management group project, trying to teach my cat that she’s not allowed to sit on the table, and working hard doing freelance.
More regular updates to come in the future, I promise.
Ever come across a photo of a celebrity so Photoshopped that they are almost indistinguishable? It’s unfortunate, no? Photoshop is a great tool for photo editing, but I think for editing people the goal is to make the touch-ups look natural. The strange photos are the result of an editor who didn’t know when to quit.
In this step-by-step tutorial, I will explain how you can enhance a photo to look more polished. The goal is to keep the person in the photo looking natural. I am using Photoshop CS5 on a PC. The results should be achievable in Photoshop CS3 and beyond. If you’d like to test out Photoshop CS5, the Adobe website offers 30-day trials.
We’re going to begin by finding a large, clear photo. A simple background works the best, especially when there are stray hairs poking out. As your skill advances, complex backgrounds will be easier to correct. I have found that it’s easier to use a photo of someone else when beginning to edit photos, only because the unfamiliarity of the face allows a more critical eye if the editing becomes too artificial looking.
I found this photo on Google. Let’s call her Jenny.
Jenny is a pretty girl but the lighting is dull, which highlights dark areas on her face. The poor lighting also flattens the whole photo. Our job is to correct these areas and make Jenny look like Jenny, just an improved Jenny.
1. Open the photo in Photoshop. Leave the settings at RGB/8. It allows the most editing capabilities. (If you decide you’d like to print out the photo, change the Image –>Mode to CMYK.) The first thing we’ll want to do is fix the color levels in the photo. In Photoshop CS5, open Window –>Adjustments palette. Select the Levels option.
2. A graph should appear with sliders along the bottom. The left slider controls the amount of red in the shadows, the middle slider controls the overall amount of red in the photo, and the right slider controls the amount of red in the highlights of the photo.We will now adjust the levels of red, green, and blue in the photo. First select Red from the dropdown menu.
3. This will take some time and practice to do quickly, but move the three sliders to the desired amounts of red in the photo. You’re looking for a combination that looks the most natural; as it would in real life. When you’re satisfied with red, go to blue, and finally green.
4. After you’ve adjusted each level, return back to the RGB levels. You will see the graph is much more jagged now – and that’s okay! It just means that you’ve adjusted these levels of colors in the photo. The RGB mode will take your individual level settings and apply them to the photo as a whole. This allows to darken shadows, brighten highlights, or generally lighten the picture. Play around with the RGB settings until you think the photo looks best.
5. Ever wonder how a celebrity has a perfectly symmetrical face, perfectly shaped teeth, or huge eyes? We’re not going that route, but this is how you would do it – we’re going to work with the Liquify tool. This is a great tool to know how to use, especially with editing photos of people. Go to Filter –> Liquify. The photo will open in a separate window.
6. Again, this takes a bit of time to get proficient at, but it’s well worth it. Using similar pen pressures, slowly begin to manipulate the face. Use the bloat tool to enlarge areas (such as the eyes). The hand tool will let you move the face as freely as you would like. I tried to make Jenny’s eyes the same size, lifted her cheekbones, evened out her nose, and plumped her lips. You know, things any woman would like to have enhanced in a photo. Be careful holding the mouse button down while using bloat or shrink; it will apply the effect in unnatural levels.
7. So now onto the makeup. Despite the most flawless skin, best makeup on the market, and professional photographers, makeup and beauty product spokespeople are very airbrushed before the ads are released. We’re going to fix up Jenny’s skin to look a bit more even. Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool on the left-hand toolbar and make sure the pen is set a low number.
8. Zooming in on the face a little bit (CTRL/Apple Key and +) or out (CTRL/Apple Key and -), remove any type of excess lumps, bumps, or large pores. Work slowly and carefully as to avoid doing too much. Since Jenny has freckles, I tried to leave them intact.
9. Click the color selection tool (bottom left hand side) and an eyedropper will appear. Find a neutral skin color on the face and select it, then create a new layer (bottom right hand toolbar). On the new layer, select the paintbrush tool and select a soft, rounded brush. Set the opacity low – I usually start at 14%. Slowly begin to go over her face with this soft brush to even out the skin. A little goes a long way, so use with care.
10. To brighten up the teeth without looking fake, create another new layer in the layers window. Click on the background layer, and click the color selection tool. Find one of the lightest colors on her existing smile.
11. Select a soft paintbrush at about 20% opacity. Select the newly created layer and carefully apply the color to Jenny’s smile. The goal is to make it look believable. Take each tooth individually and take time to review your work – too much correction and you risk making her smile look unnatural.
12. It’s time to clean up some stray hairs that stick out on the background. Select the Healing Brush tool and select a medium sized brush (around 50 for this project worked for me).
13. Direct your mouse pointer to an area that contains clean, un-hairy portion of the background. Hold down the ALT (PC) or the Apple key and a circle with a bull’s-eye should appear. Left click your mouse as you would to select anything else. Wherever you clicked, the texture from the brush should replace the traditional mouse pointer.
14. Find some stray hairs poking out onto the background that match the area you just selected and click on them. If done correctly, Photoshop will “heal” the area that you selected with the targeted area you originally picked. Each time you select a different area of her head, find a new area to ALT/Mac click first. If something doesn’t turn out as planned, you can always undo by either going to Edit –> Undo, or CONTROL + Z.
15. Finally, let’s add more eyelashes to Jenny, since hers are a little droopy. Bigger eyelashes will make her appear more awake. You will first need to download a brush pack that contains eyelashes.
I found a great free-for-personal-use set at http://www.obsidiandawn.com/eyelashes-photoshop-gimp-brushes. If you aren’t sure how to install the brushes, a simple Google or other search engine will give you thousands of results.
16. To add eyelashes, create another layer, then go back to the Brush tool on the left-hand toolbar. In the top left of the screen, you’ll see the brush tools.
17. Hit the drop-down menu button to view all the available brushes on your system. Find the eyelash brushes and select one. The number below the brush is the size (in pixels) that it is. Small brushes get pixelated when made any larger than their originally created size. This brush pack has large brushes, so we don’t need to worry about that on this project. Once you’ve selected the lash brush you find works the best, resize it in the same window. I found that the brush I selected works at around 190px, but your brush may differ.
Oh, and make sure that the brush you’ve selected corresponds with the eye shape of the person! In other words, make sure it’s believable. Unless you’re going for extreme makeup, in which case, go for the the extreme.
18. In your colors palette (lower left), select a dark brownish color. It doesn’t need to be exact, just similar to Jenny’s natural lash color. Once it’s selected, make sure you’ve moved back onto your newly created layer. Set the opacity of the layer to 50%. By making the layer half transparent, it won’t be as obvious if the eyelash brush doesn’t blend perfectly into the existing eye shape.
19. Align the brush to Jenny’s eye and apply the brush effect. Find the contrasting eye brush, resize it, and apply to the other eye.
Success! You’ve just had a crash course in photo editing! See the before/after below.
I wrote this for class and although it never got used, I thought it was pretty good. It was to answer a series of questions related to the topic of “what is art” and the usage of more and more digitalized art in any form overtaking traditional means.
Topic: What makes art “art”?
Because I am a graphic designer and digital photographer and I use digital/electronic programs to create my art, I understand the debate that plagues the industry. As a society, we are constantly bombarded with good and bad design and art. Everything in this world is designed – whether it be packaging and ad campaign for a soft drink, the internal and external styling of a car, or graphics for a television program, for example. Although these aren’t necessarily deemed “art”, they all require the abilities of artistically-inclined individuals who can translate a need into something that delivers the solution. Yes, these examples – as well as countless other items we are in contact with on a daily basis – are created by the means of electronic devices. Just because these programs/devices are available to nearly anyone with access to a computer does not mean these programs are instantly produce art or good design. These programs hold the potential to create great art, but it is not guaranteed.
The outcome from these electronic devices depends on the individual and their application of the tools provided within the program. Just as a painter develops their style through experimentation of paint, brushstrokes, and application, and a photographer learns exposure techniques, filter settings, and flash settings, these programs (Adobe Creative Suite, G.I.M.P., Quark, Final Cut, etc.) are loaded with features which take time and regular application to work to learn effectively. In turn, it allows the user to create dynamic results. The more time developing skills, the better the final product will be. However, with constantly updated and revamped programs on the market, a designer can never expect to master a program and be done learning. Digital-based artists constantly are learning new techniques and shortcuts to make themselves more productive.
The title of ‘Digital Artist’ includes people who were not schooled in any type of formal setting. In essence, it boils down to creative intent and innate creativity. Schooling can only aid in technique proficiency and a setting to lay groundwork for history and theory, but there has to be a certain underlying creative and artistic ability for it to be any benefit to the student. It takes lots of patience and a willingness to keep learning to continue to be a relevant artist.
NOTE: I am not implying that art history and color theory are of little use for those who are not artistically inclined, but to receive the most from these classes, the person taking them should have some type of artistic abilities.
There are distinct differences between digital and traditional photography because of the instantaneous nature of digital and plain, dumb luck. Why? Most casual photographers don’t take the time learning F-stops, proper lighting, apertures, Rule of Thirds, or shutter speed - elements that are critical to capturing the scene as it appears in life on film. The ‘automatic’ setting has taken the excitement of developing film.
Digital photography has everyone convinced they are fabulous photographers, but in reality it is mostly due to coincidence. With point-and-shoot digital cameras, there is no expenditure of cost in film, developing solution, or time spent printing in the darkroom. Because of this, there is no need to improve on getting it right the first time. A novice can take 1,000 pictures of a flower and never quite get their shot right, while a professional can take 20 photos and have several excellent shots to choose from. The dedication and effort put into learning an artistic art form, traditional or otherwise, is apparent when it comes to displaying technique and proficiency in the field. Furthermore, digital post-production (i.e. digitally altering) work is an art form in itself. It is along the same lines as tinkering with exposure time in a darkroom or reshaping a vessel when clay is still plastic: it a step in the art process which helps to more fully demonstrate the artists’ purpose for creating.
Please go take a look at my newly revised portfolio page! (Work & Resume). I’ve added new work and given a better description of the pieces.
More to come soon.
Also, I’m now on Google+. Search for me!