Case Study

Client: Self Initiated

Project Title: Riding my bike (Cubism),  Tabloid Murder (Collage)

Duration: Dec 4,2012-Dec 11, 2012

Research: For our two final project we were given the chance to create a cubist piece along with a collage piece. We were presented with some examples in class and then I went on the internet to find sources.  For the cubist piece, I found many different picture from Picasso and picked my favorite to use as reference.

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Seeing how the pictures were broken out into various colors and shards I thought I should do the same when I composed my pieces and knew there would be a lot of fracturing of my photos. For the collage,  I then found many different kind of collages, like decollage which were posters ripped apart by crowds, portrait collage, Picasso collages, and my favorite, the 3d collage, which was real world material pasted together and made to stand up so that it was touchable and cast shadows.

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Since the 3d collage of a little girl in an Easter egg, surrounded by little Easter things was my favorite I thought I would attempt that kind of effect in Photoshop.

Theme:  To come up with an idea for the cubist piece,  I thought up various ideas like a window store front, a street scene, a porch balcony, and then myself somehow. When it was finally decided I would do the bicycle theme, I felt I put myself in the picture as well so that there was more of subject. After various sketches, I decided on one in which I would be riding the bike while heading done the street somewhere while my surrounding were broken into unreal cubist world. I then picked what I thought would be the background, which was a picture of an autumn path in a forest, and sampled the colors into Kuler, and saw the various complimentary colors that would go with it.

In order to find my material for the collage I did the same thing. I thought I would like to have the same images of old drawing and the drama that came with the illustrations of that time period of the girl in the Easter Egg.  I had much more fun finding source material for this project because I found various,  morbid  illustrations that were like the Victorian girl in the Easter Egg. I felt that the sensationalism was a great representation of the anxiety during that period, so I thought I would like the tabloid article to be my theme and make it like a stage for death and murder. I found men in formal suits, woman in fancy dresses, and some old newspaper articles that were exclamatory enough. However my main difficulty was finding more than one good newspaper scan that were large. Almost all of the ones I did find were too small to fit on my image. Eventually I decided to use one good large one and cut it up and block so that one couldn’t tell it was the same page.

Process: The creation of the cubist piece while fun, was more time consuming  and large than I would have like it to be. Because I had to cut up so many of my photos that I found, I ended up having tens of layers that were just one tiny object. This resulted in me losing for a while a layer I may have turned off, or erasing it by accident because it got lost under others. Also with each new version I saved the file became increasingly large. I found this very cumbersome especially when having to transfer from the hard drive to my flash drive. Eventually my flash drive ran out of space, so I had to erase my older version as I went along. And most frustrating of all was having to wait  a long time in order for my file to open at home. Then each save would also take a while. This made for exasperating work and adjustments. I eventually learned to just erase every layer that I definitely would not be using again.

As my composition progressed I was overall pleased with how it was coming along, I could see that with change of angles and a playing with the modes on the layers I could get great transparencies and color effects. It was artistically a great exercise because I could begin to think of the composition as not having to be real at all, but instead maintaining a feeling of absurdity and chance that was freeing. It allowed me to think that nothing I was doing could really be wrong and anything I wanted could done.

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For the collage piece, I took all the pictures I collected and brought them into Photoshop where I cut out all the individual figures, trees, and buildings individually using the pen tool. In contrast with the cubist piece I felt I was a lot more involved with the tools and options for extracting figure from the backgrounds. As well, this was the only time I actually used any of the effects. I thought I used a lot more complex methods and explore the technical side of Photoshop much more because of it, which makes me feel much more self-satisfied with the results.

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When removing individual objects from background, after I had finished the pen outline, I went to the “paths” tab in Photoshop and saved those paths so I could possible use them later. I then turned those paths into selections , which I then copied onto new layers so that the object was by itself with nothing in the background.  Since  I thought a newspaper page with a woman murdered by her lover and a man killing another man on the other sides were great material, I thought I should use that as the background.  I made sure to tilt it so that there would be some dynamic direction later on. I then thought I should like a scene on that background which could be blended in together using the layer modes later on. So I set the stage using a cobble street, and began to experiment with the figures of men, women, and strange things in the scene.  I especially liked a picture of a cathedral I had found ,and thought the usual associated image of church values, conspiracies, and intrigued were appropriate to a Victorian age. So when I brought the image in I made sure to rasterize it at it’s largest size (which I did for all the images) and made a copy.  In the channels tabs, I turned off and on the RBG layers to find a good contrast, made a copy of the blue layer, and used level to increase the contrast between the sky and the church. Then I used the black paintbrush to fill in the white spots in the black of the church, which I was going to keep, clicked on all the RGB layers again, and with the mask now over it, I went back to the layers tab and cut out the sky away from the picture.   I then turned the picture to black and white by going to the “adjustment” menu and turning it to black and white. I then lastly adjusted the levels so that the black, white and grey would have a better contrast.  And with that than I had a cathedral which would add a little more depth to the picture.

I continued to experiment with my figures and cut them out, and brought in a picture frame to act as a container for the scene like the Girl in the Easter Egg had had.  Two things I specially wanted in this collage was to have silhouettes that were a common past time during the Victorian age.  I felt this would also add intrigue and mystery in figures that might look somewhat suspicious. I found the kind of shape I was looking for in a horse and carriage illustration which had a man snapping his whip, and a man falling off the wagon due to being shot. Like my other images I made a copy, and I used the pen tool to cut these figures out since there were too many hatchet pen marks to use a quick mask or selection. When I was done with that, I then made a new layer on top in which I put a black square which could cover the wagon and figures. With the square on top, and the carriage image below, I clicked on the square layer, right clicked over the layer, and turned it into a clipping mask. It then became a black silhouette of the carriage figures underneath. With this done, I thought I should add some motion blur to make it seem alive and moving.

Result: I was mostly okay with my cubists piece. I thought I didn’t have the same fineness of Picasso or seemed to have the rhythm that I had initially thought I would have, but for a first piece it functions. The colors I thought were okay. I still feel that there could be more contrast somehow or more eye direction. In the end I added more house objects which I thought was a good choice however because it allowed my own self to pop out more from the background (which I had been trouble resolving earlier).  The one thing that I was pretty happy with was the forest background which still retained its color and which more frenetic confusion than the foreground, which I personally think make the background more powerful than the front. But that would be a fix for later to overcome.

With much more exciting experimentation I was able to come to a very good composite for my Victorian sensational collage piece. In the process of putting my pieces together I had been pleased to find a short implied narrative that could be taken away from the piece.  With the female in the back and men in front I thought my stage could possible involved a love-triangle become deadly. A man with a gun stands in front of the picture frame I had made only partially encompass the scene, and the dead man he shot lies in front as well. I thought since this would be a dramatic indiscretion for high society, they should metaphorically be outside of established society by being outside the frame.  I kept all the other unsuspecting character inside the frame, as they would be protected from knowledge of it.  I even added some blood stains by going into the brushes panel in the Windows menu, and experimented with the textures and sizes of brushes. I then echoed the sense of night time crime with a small moon in the background , which is actually a pocket watch with a  charcoal effect. Then lastly I added a tiny locket near the hand of the dead man to strengthen the possibility of love being involved. Overall I am very pleased with the collage, much more satisfied with the effects and narrative than the cubist piece.

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