Introduction: Wilhelm Missing, Nick Star in Custody
I suppose it's best I give the quick story behind this particular subject before I begin.
My youngest daughter has me draw the square sponge character quite often and I've become pretty creative in my depictions to retain mild interest. I thought it'd be neat to do a scary "SBSP" for this 'ible so I went Googling for a hi-res dish sponge image, figuring I'd get ample pics of the popular rectangular type with yellow sponge and a green scouring side; got bupkis. Then thought it'd be cool if I found a sponge image from an Instructable, possibly incorporate their 'ible into mine, so I did a search on the site for 'dish sponge'. Glanced through the thumbs, quickly found a nice source with awesome resolution. At the time, it was only a few down on the search. I had no idea who the author was until I looked at the bio information. Thought it was a righteous coincidence though, assuming it's the author's residence in the image. And judging by the author's appearance in the avatar, he's been to Weenie Hut Jr. more than once. For that matter, any of us who frequent this site are subject to Weenie Hut accusations.
It's believed Wilhelm used the word 'shredded' in a post on the website he founded, to describe the actor's condition when he was through with him. So, let's see what Wilhelm did to make alias Spring Boob Squire Pin the prime suspect in his whereabouts.
Step 1: Manipulation Art With Software
Seeing as there're x to nth tutorials for photo editing software, I thought I'd do an art lesson as opposed to a software lesson. When I need an abstract subject for whatever project, I often find myself creating the rough drafts in photo editing software. So perhaps this'll help others who aren't quite as artistic as they are skilled with the software. Or demonstrate to those artists without software skills how simple and intuitive most editors are. And I need to mention that I'm only offering artistic advice here. I've no professional experience with multimedia software other than personal entertainment.
So you'll need:
Photo editing software
Knowledge of the software
A high resolution subject to edit
I'll be using Gimp in this demonstration, but Photoshop, Pixlr, etc will work just as well.
I personally prefer Photoshop, but my files we're getting too large [with emulator running] and slowing performance.
Also, to keep it simple, I'll only be using a few basic tools which--even if you've never used them--are self explanatory once you fiddle with 'em.
The reason why you want a high resolution [hi-res] image is to retain detail, if that's what you're after anyway. When I refer to an image search in this 'ible, I'm always searching for hi-resolution images. If you have multiple clips from multiple sources, be sure the resolutions are indifferent.
Once you got your stuff, we can get creative.
Step 2: Prep and Selection
First things I prefer to address are my selections, cutting, cropping, pasting, etc. In the case of this example I needed to prepare the sponge to have a face, arms and legs. That was the extent of my foresight when I first obtained the background image.
Now I don't recommend stealing these random images for profit, but we're messing around here so, whatever.
I justify using others' works by allowing any of my creations to be used freely. So if you think you can make a buck off my own material, more power to you.
A Google image search got me a nice hi-res eyeball and a perfect scowling bust of some old dude. Perfect except for the lighting being opposite of the source.
To get the menacing brow I positioned the eyeballs where I'd wanted 'em on the sponge, Free-Hand Selected a furrowed brow on the Sponge Layer, Copied the selection then Pasted the copied selection into a New Layer. The new Brow layer was needed above the Eye Layer. Similarly, you may do the same to the cheek bones, as I did in the image.
It's a good time to mention that if you're going to be using a bunch of layers, name them. Nothing more frustrating than searching through an array of layers named Layercopy1 ...2 ...3 etc. I also group or merge similar layers in Photoshop.
SBSP has a face which takes up a good portion of his body, so I left the bust's proportions as is.
I only do a quick color job with Colorize to get the similar colors as close as possible. Once they're at the appropriate ratios, you can alter the colors as a whole at any point.
If you're doing a cartoon, use less color saturations for more reality. Brighter colors for an animated or stop-motion appearance.
Group layers with like properties, or Copy and PasteLayer Properties for efficient editing.
Finally, I selected the Bust Layer and changed it's mode to Overlay. This will give the face a texture from the layer below. In this case, the sponge. If you haven't used the Layer Options or Modes, it's a good opportunity to play around, get a feel for what each mode does. Be careful if you merge layers later on that have different mode settings, the merged layer [layer merging down] will take on the Layer Mode Properties of the host layer. Depending upon the editor, there're options to keep the WYSIWYG merge.
Step 3: Layout and Colors
I'm sporadically rotating the image 'cause the angle, compounded with the up-side-down aspect of it kept throwing me off. I Googled a couple quick references for limbs and hooked him up with square khakis.
The nose was referenced from pieces of sausage [pork]. I Cropped the sausage in half, Rotated the half closest to the face Vertical, parallel with the body, and left the other piece angled on the cill. After adding some folded back "flesh" between the two pieces, I Colorized the exposed half a blood red and the fleshy side the same yellow sponge color. I never removed the pasta from the sausage because when the resolution is reduced, it looked like veins.
When adding objects such as the nose and limbs, it's important to remember to add additional shading that's sure to occur as a result.
You'll notice the right side of SBSP's forehead has been burned. Although I forgot to capture the sausage before the edit, it was also Burned closest to the face, and faded out gradually.
Another important shade to note is where the new layers are now juxtaposed. For instance, where the nose meets the surface of the cill, there should be heavy shading under the nose, on the cill, then, in this case, ending almost abruptly towards the upright portion of the nose. If you have a difficult time with judging shadows, just visualize each component of your subject as a simple 2-D surface or 3-D shape: squares, cylinders, rectangles, spheres, cubes, etc. You're not shading an arm; you're shading a long pipe with a three-dimensional rectangle attached. On the rectangle are 5 more pipes. If you need to reduce it further, you'll have 3 pipes or cylinders as each digit. And so on. A head--in most cases--is spherical; three sides of a somewhat pyramid are apparent in the nose and two more orbs sunk into the spherical head; and so on. The extent you wish to reduce will depend upon what type of detail you're after. This applies to any medium, really.
Another trick when using layers is to create a high-contrast or black and white copy of a layer to reference the shadows and highlights. You could even use the B&W copy with a layer mode in certain instances. Layer modes are an awesome tool. The squirrel behind the screen is an excellent example. After completing the rodent, I put it "behind the screen" in one simple layer setting; appropriately named "Screen". You can see the Before edit of the squirrel then After the layer setting change, in the next step.
To accomplish large sections of shading quickly, I'll Free-Hand Select the regions, Feather the selection then Burn or Reduce Lightness/Brightness. I adjust the feathering depending upon how sharp the shading needs to come to end. I used the same technique for the blood stain, dispersing the stain as though absorbed.
When I burn or shade I quite often have to fine-tune other properties such as contrast, saturation, etc.
Some portions are trial and error to get it to look just right. If you study the final composite you'll see how off the shading and textures are. This often happens when I've been staring at it for too long. Sometimes it's a good idea to step away from your work, return to it later to get a fresh perspective. I'm attempting to meet the contest deadline, so I don't have the luxury of stepping away for very long.
Another example of subtle shading is where the teeth were positioned. Top lip is to appear above the teeth, so the shading Burn was used on the Teeth Layer, just around the top lip. Sometimes reducing the Lightness instead of burning will incur better results on solid or near-white objects. Now the teeth are resting on the lower lip, so I needed to Burn, ever so slightly, the bottom lip, just ender the teeth. Even further down, you'll notice the Highlight added for the lip protrusion, then Shaded again, just below, for depth and the appearance of pressure on the lip.
I've no idea where this Sponge's arms disappear to, so I figured a hole would be fitting. Found a faux limb on Google and Cut a convexed Selection from the Nub Layer, following the curvature of the bicep.
When I speak of Dodging, Burning or any tool with brush properties I'm working with a faded circle. Some specialty brushes are perfect in certain instances, but there's obviously a technique to it, and I ain't got it down yet.
Also, there're many add-ons, tools, brushes, scripts, filters, effects, etc for these photo editing softwares.
If you really get into photo editing, they make the edit so much easier, more productive and often give excellent results when used creatively.
Step 4: Putting It All Together
As you can see, the suspect had accomplices arrive prior to Wilhelm's disappearance.
When your subject is in motion, suspended, falling, etc. be sure their clothing, hair, and other loose items reflect the action being performed. My subject is inverted, so his tie needs to hang. It's not a mistake that traditional pen/pencil/paint artist would make, but when you're grabbing a collage of images, it may be overlooked. It's amazing, if you're looking for it, how many blatantly obvious PS edit flaws there are in print advertising
The arms are my daughters. Had her put her arm in the pose I was after, the shot was against a solid background with the light source in the right place and >click< ...there're my arms I needed. I Free-Hand selected some menacing nails and Colorized them a deep red.
When an object on the plane which sets the perspective is off skew, it will stick out like a soar thumb that has a serious staff infection, throbbing and inflamed with dead blood and pus; probably septic. The surgeon lances it and it erupts; weeping streams of acrid, bloody, yellow--
My wife's a nurse and that's the kind of nasty dinner conversations I put up with.
Just ensure the perspectives are the same or it'll look wrong.
The Leg Nub Layer was from the same image as the Arm Nub. Finishing it required Reducing the Brightness, adjusting contrast, hitting it with a Dodge on the light side and dropping it behind the Khakis Layer. One last shadow on the leg with Burn, just a bit peeking out from the Khakis and it was done. Because of the subjects simple shape and the fact that the light's effect was apparent, the shading was finished in little time.
I was convinced that it needed more blood and Free Hand Selected a section of the Sponge Layer. As I did with the previous stain, I feathered it out quite a ways for the absorbed look.
Try to exaggerate. If it's a subtle piece, exaggerate the subtleties. Anything in the piece that needs attention, exaggerate it, or fashion your own style. That's what's great about creating art, there ain't no correct ways to do it.
When the final layers were added, I went around and did touching up.
The collar, tie, shading, sharpening. Any colors which need to be adjusted, such as the blood, were taken care of also.
And that was everything involved in the creation of SBSP; 16 layers.
1 Tie [merged the collar]
1 Face [merged nose to face]
2 Blood stains
1 Brow line
It could certainly use work, but the intention was to demonstrate some tips, tricks and techniques that can avoid what sometimes stands out in a less dedicated manipulation. I realize this is a seasonal manipulation without practical use, but maybe those who need to edit family or friends' photos, wedding or other special occasions will find some of these tips helpful.
Later Dudes & dudettes