Monday, March 11, 2013

The Secret To Photoshop Digital Image Paintings

Today's image is another "digital image painting".  The reason I'm using that term is that they start is a capture from a digital camera.  I wouldn't want to call it a "digital painting" because that would diminish the work by the crazy good digital artists out there.  I've never been able to pick up a pencil or a stylus and make something interesting on a piece of paper or screen.  It's just not something I was given the natural talent to do.  So, I take image that I've taken with a digital camera and change them.  Sometimes for the better and some people think sometimes not so much for the better.  The key to the DIPs (digital image paintings) I've been featuring lately is have a "hero" image as the central (both figuratively and literally) focal point of the composition.  If you had only a set of small images scattered around "the canvas" it wouldn't be something that was saleable.  A "commission work" similar to today's image would have to have a premium to the pricing.  The TAM (Total Available Market) for something like today's image is one, maybe two.  It's not something you'd be able to sell in the dozens or hundreds of copies.  Maybe the subject, his kids, his mom, his favorite uncle.  It has a limited market potential.  Therefore it demands a premium price.  If the image were of a famous athlete or actor (and you have a model release) you'd be able to, possibly, make thousands of dollars selling $25.00 posters.  That isn't the case with a personal commission.  Taking into consideration your time to do the shoot, your post production time, your marketing time, your production costs and whatever else you can think of to throw in there, you're probably talking of a selling price for a 20 x 24 framed print would probably run in the many hundreds of dollars range.  To find the key to making this type of digital image painting, hit the "Read More".

The key?  Cloud Brushes.  Clouds Brushes are fairly easy to make.  Have your camera with you as you travel around.  When you see an interesting clouds, take a few shots of them.  That's probably the easiest first step ever. 

Make a folder for your cloud shots or do some Keywording to be able to find your cloud images quickly after you do your import.  Pick a cloud image, bring it into your image editing program.  Switch it to a Black and White using whatever you like to use to make the conversion.  I'll talk about using Adobe Photoshop Cs6 (since that what I use) but you can probably do the same things in whatever you're using.  This is one case where you don't have to use Adjustment Layers since you'll be saving a Brush (B) and then discarding the changes.  Invert the cloud image (CTRL I [eye]) and bring up the Levels (CTRL L) dialog box.  Increase the contrast by bringing in the two outer slider carets.  The result doesn't need to have a pure black or a pure white.  We're trying to make a semitransparent Brush. 

Grab the Gradient Tool (G).  Choose a linear gradient and the foreground to transparent  (in the dropdown) option (second from the left).  With your foreground color set to white and drag in from the outside of the image.  Drag the Gradient in all around the image.  You may have to drag as many as ten or twelve times to get the entire outer rim to white. 

Once the clouds appear in a ring of white you're ready to make the Brush.  The Brush will only be whatever is black/grey (nothing white or light grey).  Now create a Brush Preset.   Click on Edit/Define Brush Preset.  A dialog box will come up asking you to name the Brush.  Clouds are pretty standard so Clouds 1, Clouds 2, etc is probably as good as anything.  The new Brush Preset will be appended to the brush set you have open.  You may want to make folders and save all your Clouds Brushes, your Fire Brushes, your Water Brushes in separate folders.

Once you have your Brushes defined you can choose a Cloud Brush, set the foreground color to something that appears in your "hero" image and start producing your background.  I recommend using (and naming) each color and cloud on a separate Layer. 

If you were to make your foreground color Red and do one click of the Brush and then change to foreground color to Blue (on another Layer), you'd have some Red, some Blue and some purple.  This would be due to the inherent transparency of the Cloud Brushes .