Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reading assignments

So many books out there to read! I used to keep my to-read list on index cards, a fat little stack which I still have. Now I can keep lists right on the Dallas Public Library site as well as on Goodreads, where it's so satisfying to be able to transfer a book over to the “Read Shelf.” But, to face facts, I will never get all those books on my various lists read, however great my longevity. However, bookgroup selections generally make it promptly to that Read Shelf each month because I don't want to miss out on participating fully in our lively discussions. The first of our 2017 selections was delightful and the second a page-turner for me.  I look forward to reading the rest. As always, you are welcome to join us, virtually online, or here in Dallas; just email for location.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Illustration Friday - Swirl

Doing something is certainly more satisfying that merely thinking about doing it. And I have to say I got a lot of satisfaction and pleasure out of composing this piece for this week's Illustration Friday topic – Swirl. I have enjoyed the creative stimulation that Illustration Friday prompts on and off for several years, but there's been too long a hiatus between my last submission and now. So one of my goals for this year is to participate in IF each month.

I never know what I'm going to come up with, or what I'm going to end up with. Because this is nothing like I originally had in mind (which involved swirling smoke). While looking for Photoshop smoke brushes in deviant art, I got sidetracked and came across faestock's series of stock model shots with swirling skirts, and I thought I would just see what I might do with one or several of them.

The technical part for anyone who is interested: I chose three poses and removed the figures from the background. Each figure was duplicated twice. On the bottom copy I used Topaz Labs Simplify with the Pastel II filter (under Sketch), with that layer set to Normal, 100% opacity. On the next copy, I used Akvis Sketch with a Classic Fine Lines filter, with that layer set to Luminosity, 40% opacity. The top layer is the original set to Vivid Light and 100% opacity. I exaggerated the colors and saturation with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and also a violet Photo Filter Adjustment layer.

The red swirls are from Photoshop brushes which I've had for some time and may have also been downloaded from deviant art. The gold corners were done with some old Photoshop brushes called Paper Damage that I have found very useful, source unknown..The background is a Flypaper texture with the layer set to Multiply with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the colors and a circular gradient mask to lighten the center where the figures are.  

As always, I learn something or brush up on something (using channels to make a mask for selecting hair from the background) in Photoshop . Obviously, I could choose a topic or word at random and do this without the Illustration Friday interface. But, as I have said before, I find the deadline that must be met to post in that week's IF an effective spur to finish what I've begun.