Monday, September 5, 2011

Real Life Anime in Photoshop CS5

Over the weekend we took a ride down to NYC to see JoeMcNally's tribute to the heroes of 9-11 titled "The Faces of Ground Zero,10 Years Later" and shoot in Central Park for an hour or so.  Today's image is part of a fun event going on in CP's Sheep Meadow, but a little on the McNally exhibit first.  I've seen Joe's blog on the exhibit along with several other sites encouraging people to make time to visit this fleeting moment in history.  The exhibit only goes until September 12th, the day after the tenth anniversary of that day.  Several commentators have said that September 11, 2001 is one of the days that are seared into your brain and you can tell people exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.  The Intel office I was in on that day is no longer there, but even if new tenants have totally rearranged the layout I'd be able to take you to within two feet of the exact spot I was standing when we heard the first report.  A phone call from a coworker's wife telling him "a plane" had hit the World Trade Center.  No word of the size or type of plane came from the first call.  We speculated about how bad a pilot you'd have to be to get that far off course so you'd hit a building that big.  We had just gone back to our planning discussion when the same guy got another call from his wife about a plane hitting the second tower.  The first reaction of the two guys I was meeting with was a joke about what the hell was up with those New York people.  I stopped them and said "guys, we're under attack".  Their reaction was disbelief and "do you really think so"?  As we know, I was right and the event planning and the event itself was put off indefinitely.  "The Faces of Ground Zero, 10 Years Later" brought back some of the emotions of that dreadful day and tears again came to my eyes.  What McNally did in the aftermath of 9-11 was undoubtedly a work from the heart.  The exhibit now on display at the Time Warner Center is, in typical McNally fashion, meant to be a tribute to the people who served at that time.  Without his meaning it to be, it's also a tribute to Joe McNally.  Thanks Joe.  Now, to find out about today's image, hit the "Read More".

After checking out the exhibit we walked across the street into NYC's Center Park.  It was a beautiful late summer afternoon and the park was full of activity.  We walked into the Sheep Meadow and just wandered around a little bit.  There was a cast of characters (literally) congregating on a rock outcropping a short way in.  After snapping a couple candid shots the young woman in today's image spotted us and waved.  The entire group seemed to be pretty friendly.  We approached her and asked what was going on.  She explained that they group was dressed as characters from Anime.  Anime being a very stylized type of cartoon, popularized first in Japan. 

Part of the Anime style is having very little detail in the faces of the characters.  That's one of the things I tries to do with today's image.   Each of the different areas, the face, the arms, the shirt, the stockings each have their own piece of the image.  I'd finish with a piece to my satisfaction, make the set of Layers into a Smart Object and go on to the next piece.  The amount to Surface Blur varied depending on what was being softened.  The reason for using Smart Objects is to be able to go back to any point, make adjustments and have those adjustments reflect back to the top of the Layer stack.  Smart Objects is the only way to get this type of flexibility.

The hair got some extra treatment.  In addition to enhancing the color (slightly), emphasis was added using a separate Layer filled with 50% gray and having the Blend Mode switched to Overlay.  With the Brush Tool (B) set to a low Brush Opacity (not Layer Opacity) and using the Flip Foreground and Background keystroke (X) highlights and shadows were dramatized to make the hair look more cartoonish.

Attention to removing definition is the key to creating a real life Anime.