Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Bottle

Themed photos of a bottle on Halloween night. Once all quieted down for the evening I did some themed photography of an empty bottle I liked the label of, but couldn't remove, so I took a picture instead.

I set out lace and spiderweb fabric over wood and cardboard to get the look of a fallen bottle after a long Halloween night, just something fun to add to a scrapbook.
  I can't say I know what the drink tasted like, because none of us touched it, just my dad.
The label has a nice whimsical touch, like a Tim Burton painting, which is probably why I liked it. One day I may try to design my own label based around this one, to print and add to my journals as many times as I want.

Monday, October 30, 2017

PS paint filter experiment

I wanted to play with making pictures look painted again. It's challenging to do despite the filter options in PSE. My sudden urge to figure it out is based around my interest in the art pieces I see done with the supposed popular app filter called "Prisma", which is annoyingly a thing made specifically for phones and not a desktop.

Prisma has a surprising realistic look as far as paint texture goes for a photo filter. Even after looking it up, I find few people have nailed the same effect in Photoshop, unless they have CS6. It almost seems PSE doesn't have that kind of setting no matter how advanced, and manually experimenting is the only way to get something similar.

I discovered some things that come close to being like the Prisma filter, but not quite. I experimented with a collage first, discovered that if you use the cut out filter, and then reduce noise, you get a smooth painted look which can be refined with the smudge tool. An example of this is in the lower right corner of the panel above.

I also experimented with making the image smooth, but giving it poster edges (lower left corner).
The more interesting filter I found in PSE 12 is the graphic novel poster, which resulted in something that reminded me of wood pressing over paint (upper right corner). And finally I took the smooth paint version and gave it a scratchy overlay to mimic colored pencil, but the results weren't the best (upper left corner).
My main reason for wanting to achieve the painted look is to disguise photo manipulated pictures, and make them seem more natural, all part of the same setting.
I like the idea of making these sorts of art pieces look painted for the sake of hiding pixel quality differences and artifacting.

I chose to try this with an old picture of Ion, a character of Quin's from the MN-I role play so many years ago. I played around with two settings, one was to make it look soft and poster like (left), and the other was made to look scratchy and painted (right). Unfortunately, to achieve either of these effects, I had to sacrifice certain color qualities and details of the original image.

I may have gotten close to getting the Prisma appearance, but still not exact. To do it I first used the cut out filter, then I reduced noise, smudged a few things, created a black and white image of the picture, applied an angled brush stroke filter, and multiplied the texture over the softened image.
Finally, I tried playing with the intended image I've been wanting to turn into a painted portrait. The top two were experiments done using poster effects and cut out filters with a bit of texture overlay, not quite what I was looking for.

After further research on youtube for painting effects over photos in Photoshop, I discovered that I'm having the most trouble because PSE is still limited in too many areas. I had to improvise and see if I could find some cheats for getting a painted look. First I softened and added glowing edged to my picture (lower left corner). After that I created a painted effect overlay using Corel Painter Lite, which I then had to save and apply in PSE, changing the blending mode to lighten. Once that was done I added some paper texture, and got the final results (lower right).

It's not too bad I guess, but achieving this effect would be more pleasing with an updated program, and there's still not very much of a difference between this version and the original. Getting something that look like an oil or acrylic painting is just tricky, and nearly impossible to achieve without some kind of better program, unless you're patient and willing to manually paint over a digital image using the brushes in Corel Painter.
A retry created on Jan. 2, 2018

Yes, this part of the post is from the future. On January 2, 2018, I went back to the Youtube video I had watched before on how to make an image look like watercolor, and I got this. It's not too bad, some details are of course lost, but I like the way it turned out.

I made a few duplicate layers of my image in PSE, one of those layers I applied a cutout filter to, then took that image and applied a smart blur to it. I then created a copy of this layer, reverted i,t and turned the blending mode to color dodge. On this layer I painted over it using a watercolor brush set to 9% opacity. Once the painting was done, I duplicated my layers, merged them, and applied a sandstone texture through the texturise filter.
Created Jan. 3, 2018

Only difference between this version above and the ones below are the slightly darker edges which give the picture more of a 'drawn with pen' appearance.

After a basic watercolor effect over a cutout filtered image, I played around further with the images from this collection the following day, and discovered a technique I really like the look of.

I wanted more detail while still having a watercolor effect that made the images blend together and appear like an actual painted illustration from a story book.

To achieve this I took my base photo manipulated picture, duplicated it, and applied a colored pencil effect from filters. I then set this layers mode to lighter color. Beneath this layer I created a solid color layer of dusty dark brown. I then duplicated my base image again, applied a cutout filter, and reduced noise. I then set this layers mode to darker color, reduced opacity to 88%, and set it above the colored pencil layer. Then I duplicated this cutout filtered layer, inverted it, brought the opacity back up to 100%, and switched the mode to color dodge. I then took a watercolor brush at 9%, adjusting the opacity as needed, and painted on this layer to get a watercolor effect over colored pencil.

I adjusted levels for some parts, and played around with a light yellow gradient set beneath all the layers except the solid color layer. The yellow gradient gave me a warm sunlight effect, as show in the right image above.
My first experiment with watercolor over colored pencil in PSE was of just this character (Lewa), standing by himself in a forest scene. 

I find my favorite version of this one is the warm light version shown here. Sunlight that's hazy, but bright makes me feel relaxed.
I also played with other settings to get a basic version (left), and a glowing version (right), which was a result of changing the cutout filter layer to the pin light blending mode.

The shading effects on the tree and such were done using different colors during painting on the color dodge layer. I darkened areas with gray brown and black, but added light to spots using a soft, warm yellow.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Key Lime Pie Book

Started: Oct. 24, 2017. Completed: Oct. 29, 2017. Measures: 8 x 8 in.

The Key Lime Pie journal. This is the first book I've ever made using the fin binding technique.
I guess browsing through so many Youtube journal videos has helped me explore new possibilities.

I've included two pictures of what my first fin binding looked like (far left in the panel above). It was simple enough to attach against the spine with my new 1'' wide double sided tape.

I've had this key lime pie box in my stash for years. I've always liked the colors and artistic set up of it, so much so that I didn't want to do anything with it if it meant covering up or cutting down some of the box's design.
The best way around that was to use it as a book cover instead of a journal insert as originally planned. 

I picked out some papers that fit the mood and colors of the book, including its chosen contents. The colors and style all seemed to lean towards a tropical theme, so I aimed to add beach based and tropical items to my pages.

My pages were constructed from white card stock, then inked with blue around the edges. I assembled my pages and all the flips first before adding them to the fins.

Recycled items I chose to use include aquatic themed candy and dried coconut bags, tropical colored Popsicle boxes, a lemon bag,and part of a Jone's soda box. Added accessories were made using things like storage jar paper decorated with taffy images, paint sample cards, and other recycled items. 

Decorating the pages and inner cover was a fun experience for me. I don't normally use a lot of scrapbook papers combined with my junk journals, but for this one I did, and I love the results.
Like the usual, I sealed my inner cover with varnish, and then for the rest I inked the edges of my cards and papers black before matting them together.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spooky Infant Wall Pictures

I figured it's the month for spooky pictures, especially old mildewed prints of paintings which heighten the mood for any haunted house.

With some editing, these pictures could become fun images for journals or Halloween decoration.
These pictures were once in frames, which we ended up taking and using for other images.


The baby was the first, there's also this one of a toddler, with colored accents that appear to have been done with pastel.

The little girl seems to have a spooky charm to her, and then there's the bird toy down by her feet which stares at you too.

Monday, October 16, 2017

2008 Journal Recovered

After finishing my 2007 journal so many years ago, I settled on using the same brand of sketch book for my next journal in 2008.
Pro Art Artists Tools & Supplies was the brand, as shown with metallic letters on the odd textured cover that reminds of reptile or elephant skin. 
This book had its share of constant use and abuse, and it needed a bit of restoring.
It had lost its spine at some point, and the front cover tore off completely. The back cover still remained attached to the peeling end paper, but I've kept the book held together with a rubber band for many years.
You can see the book grew too fat for the spine, and eventually just fell apart. I took several day to think about how to give it a new spine, and on the thirteenth got to work. First I cut a new piece of chipboard for it, then gave it a a little over a centimeter of space between the spine and the covers.
The back cover was removed with a quick slice of the craft blade, then I chose some craft card stock to hold the cover and spine together.
Once that was dry, I experimented with some staining techniques to make the spine look like aged leather. I was intending to add a sticker to the cover which matched the brown, but I changed my plans as I went.
To give the spine that nice color, I used several drops of brushed corduroy distress ink from Tim Holtz. I dropped it directly on the paper, then spritz it with water, and spread it around with a paper towel. After I dried it with my heat gun, I took the soggy paper towel and ran it over the paper again in a circular motion to add extra texture and color.
I also extended the rough end of the book itself, adding paste downs to either bit of remaining binders cloth still attached to the book's internal spine (right).
After the ink on the spine dried, I cut down my chosen papers and glued it down to the cover.
After that was dry I added a single coat of satin liquitex varnish, which gave it a nice shine, and kept the distress ink from rubbing onto my fingers.
I was happy to see the cover coming together nicely. The inside papers were cut and varnished separately before I glued them down over the glued on paste downs.
I also found there was a bit of a gap in white, so I added some extra paper strips to those spots, with a note to self to cut the internal pages wider next time if I was to cover some of the paste down color.
The papers I chose are both from the stack Stella and Rose by My Minds Eye. I love the papers from the collection, but I will note it's not cradstock despite what the pack says. The paper is rather thin, around the same weight as standard printer paper, floppy, and prone to warping if the tacky glue isn't brushed down and made smooth.
I discovered that rubbing the glue around with my finger is effective in making the paper go on more smoothly. The back cover ended up having some ripples because I didn't smooth out the glue the first time.
After finishing the basic parts of my cover, I had to decide if I wanted to embellish it a little. I changed my mind about using the wall stickers I had chosen. They didn't quite fit, and covered up too much of the pretty paper color. 
I went through three options, took pictures with my tablet for reference. first I thought I'd use just a chipboard element, that didn't quite fit the outside, so I played around with some K and Company dye cuts, and lastly I played with the idea of putting the chipboard sticker in there with them. 
I settled on the middle version, knowing less is more in most cases, and the chipboard piece was set aside completely.
Since the embellishments were decided on after I had already varnished my cover, I went in and varnished the dye cuts separately, then glued them on the front with Fabri-tac glue by beacon.
It's the first time I've ever used fabri tac, and found that it does in fact prevent warping to the paper, but it also smells bad, is somewhat toxic no doubt, acid free though, and fast drying (a bit too fast because it has acetone in it). 
I decided to try it out because I've been watching videos online, and Jen of Eve is someone who uses the glue all the time. She said it doesn't make paper warp like white glue, so I wanted to try it out.
It does work well as far as my first try goes, I'll just need to remember to wear a mask next time I use it, to avoid the smell.
Final results are rather pleasing.
Before I went and spruced up this tattered old journal, I did go through several stages of scanning, and then made a few personal video records of before and after results on the cover.
I found it was easier to scan the book while its spine was bust, and the process took me around a week to finish. I hope to select pictures and hand doodling from the scanned pages for making into my own personal doodle and border PNG files for future use in PSE projects.
I like the idea of using my own doodles for creating personalized scrapbook papers and elements, just never tried it before, so I'm working up to it.