Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creating a collage on the computer

The Photoshop layer concept is ingenious and is the perfect tool for creating collages. It is interesting to note that when you are working with layers you are really dealing with a three dimensional concept rather than working on a flat surface as you can place objects in front or behind one another. It takes a while to get used to the idea, but it's amazing what possibilities this process opens up for graphic experimentation. There is no limit to what an artist can accomplish using Photoshop layers.

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Above is one of a series of limited edition prints from my Goddess series, titled ALL DREAMS MUST END. You can spot Paul Gauguin right behind the second lady.
This image was created by combining line drawings, photcopies and a few old engravings found in books.

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Here is a diagram of the layers from 1 through 9. I first started out with a 12" x 15" background to which I've added two color panels. I had already scanned the various items that I wanted to include in the final image. Now all I had to do was to resize, color and place them in position over the background.

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While these diagrams appear quite complex, if you study them a bit, you will have a pretty good idea of just how the layer process works.
As I don't really have a plan or preliminary sketch to work from, I size the various objects by trial and error, sometimes having to repeat the process four or five times before it looks right. The first thing I added was the old engraving of the church, creating layer 1. Layer 2 consists of a self portrait of Gauguin borrowed from one of his paintings. Adding the nude figures create layers 3 and 4. The machine is now placed on layer 5. The peacock, red bird, fish, flower and book make up layers 6 through 9. During this process any of the images on any layer can be repositioned or resized. If I wanted to make changes I could still revert back to any previous stage by using a unique tool called "Undo History". This tool can also be used at any previous point to correct mistakes or something that I might be dissatisfied with. When I am finished the layers are merged, at this stage none of the objects can be moved although you can still change the colors.
When starting to experiment with Photoshop layers start out with a simple image, not one as complex as this one. Incidentally, I do all my digital work on a Mac G4 computer using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, a simplified version of the full Photoshop program.

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I recently decided to alter this image and use it for one of my Comic Book Cover Parodies series of limited edition prints. I changed the color in the top background and removed the church and the machine. Then added the Logo, type and word balloons.

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