Thursday, March 20, 2008

Complete and Utter Vanity (Apologies to Your Browser Speed)

I like to think that my computer, and all my documents are pretty organized. For example, for pictures that were taken this school year in Berkeley, I have a folder within "My Pictures" called "Berkeley Year Three." In this folder, I have a folder for every month of the year (and a few for things that transcend beyond one month or are considered "exceptional").

The "March 2008" folder has a lot of pictures in it. A LOT.

I'm not sure why. I think it may be a combination of a bit of (relative) free time and...okay, I don't know what the other part of the combination could be. I've just been inspired to take a lot of picture. Of course, about 98% of them are of me (+/- 2%). There's not much else to photograph when you're alone in your room. But I like to think that I can be interesting enough for more than one picture.

Also, I like to Photoshop pictures of myself.

So, I decided to show off some of these pictures (a small fraction of them, but still what I would consider a good representation), as well as some of the Photoshop products.

So, let's get started! (Oh, and if your computer crashed trying to load this page, get a better computer! It's nowhere near as bad as during the Comic-Con days.)

We'll start out with one of the rarest pictures you'll ever see. I've only taken one picture of me like this, and I don't plan on doing so again. This is a side of me that most people never see. However, it was late at night, and I decided that perhaps, maybe, I should take a single picture of myself...wearing glasses.



There, I hope you enjoyed my restricted-vision self. That may be the only time you see me wearing glasses in a picture.

And next, we had a bunch of shots I decided to take one night. On said night, I noticed that a few locks of my hair were down, so I decided to do some "pretty boy" shots; maybe send them in to be a part of a gang, get myself a nickname like "Two-Bit" or "Soda-Pop". Or "Pretty-Boy." It's all good.

As I said, this is but a small fraction of the pictures taken, but I can assure that in most of them, I am not looking toward the camera. It seems to be a lot more mysterious. You can just imagine that when someone's not looking at the camera, they're saying something like "Yeah, whatever," or the ever-popular "..."

I've always been a fan or pointing toward the camera. I find the resulting pictures seem a little more...interactive than most.

This can either be a picture portraying someone's emotional downfall, or some guy saying, "Oh, God, what did I eat last night?"

I also decided to do a few close-up shots. You'll notice I'm still not looking at the camera.

This one was actually a semi-accidental shot, believe it or not. My camera was set up on a timer, and right before this one took, I was scratching my eyebrow area. And yet, to anyone who sees it, it appears to be some sort of emotive portrait picture.

Due to my larger-than-average pupil size, I tend to have more red-eye issues than your normal workaday average Joe. So often, I'll have to use Photoshop just to make myself look a smidgen less demon-like. But for some reason, I thought this picture worked pretty well as having one red eye and one black one. Almost gives a Terminator feel to the whole thing.

Speaking of Photoshop, let's take a look at what I did with a couple of pictures.

So, here's the original picture. Personally, I feel it would have looked better had I my thumbs in my pockets, but you only have a split two seconds to figure out what you're going to do before the camera flashes. In any event, I thought it would work we..

One thing I like to do on Photoshop is to remove the somewhat mundane background of my bedroom and replace it with something a bit more exciting. More often than not, I'll choose a city at night. I don't know, something about it just screams "interesting." However, to do this, you need to make sure that the lighting isn't as intense on yourself. Otherwise, it just looks awkward.

While I really like the way this looks it was, truth be told, accidental. (Like I've said before, the best way to learn on Photoshop is just to experiment.) This was done by applying the "Satin" blending option to the layer with my picture on it, and having the Mode be "Linear Burn". Somehow it turned into this, and I really liked it.

In fact, I liked it so much that this is now my desktop background. (Obviously, at a higher resolution.) It's a pretty kickass desktop, if I do say so myself.

Also, one of the things I tend to to do is add some random lines to pictures, to give it even more atmosphere. This is the "quote" for this picture. Also, you may notice this is quite brighter than the previous two. That's because it was meant to be put on my MySpace/Facebook accounts, and unless you brightened it a bit, it just looked like a black box. As is, I think it looks like it could be the poster for some Jet Li movie (in which Jet Li doesn't appear).

So, here's the second Photoshop project on here. For a while now, I've wanted to have a picture in which I'm holding fire or a fireball. My early (as in, 2005) attempts at creating fire on Photoshop were...well, lame. However, the resources of the Internet are boundless, and I was able to find someone who offers a tutorial on creating fire, as well as a few brushes to help you out. To give proper credit, here is their website. While some may consider using a special brush to be cheating, I don't. After all, Photoshop is meant to make things easier. Plus, in order to make really realistic-looking fire, there's quite a few additional steps, and there are options for customizations all along the way. So, let's take a look.

Here's the original picture. Note that I didn't remove my red-eye. I figured that if I'm going to be holding fire, it would actually be more appropriate to keep it. There are a few different "holding" poses I had, but I thought this one was the best, if only for the intensity of my face.

And here's what it looks like after the edits. Note a few things I did. First, I put a little bit of an orange glow to the face, to demonstrate a new lighting source (it's not perfect, but I think it works). I also cut out my upwards-pointing fingers and repasted them over the flames to make it less obvious that the fire was just pasted on the hands. I won't show you a comparison, but trust me, it make the illusion work out a lot better. Also, I'm not entirely happy with the rising smoke. Had I the chance to do that part over, I think I'd add some difference clouds to it.

And of course, after doing this, I decided to put on some Photoshop filters. Why? Because I'm a filter whore, that's why. It's one of my weaknesses, I suppose; a temptation I can't resist. What's interesting is that each filter will completely change the feeling of a picture. I've included four different pictures and you'll notice that each one has a different "quote" that I think fits with the feel of the piece.

Oh, and each of the pictures are in front of a dark city. Because I'm predictable.

With this one, I thought the eyes really stood out, and that the expression was a bit pout-ier than normal. To me, this kind of looked like some sort of lost soul. So I went with that.

Interestingly, this is the only one of my filtered pictures that's in color, possibly because most of the colored filters just make the picture look messy. This one, however, I felt really added to it. Of all the ones, I think the expression is the most neutral, and yet still quite mysterious and deep. One of those "hero or villain" ambiguities. I would say that this one is my favorite. (I also was tickled by my own double-entendre use of "light".)

This one came out looking like some sort of new-age demon. The fire doesn't even look like fire; it looks like some sort of unholy darkness. Anyway, I apologize for the somewhat weak rhyme, but remember, I'm making this up as I go along.

This one looks like it could be some devil-may-care protagonist who follows his own rules. I always find that when I use this filter ("Torn Edges", if you're curious), my pupils always stand out like a freight train.

So that's my Photoshop work. I only wish I wasn't so interested in it that it keeps me up at night, brushing and clicking away. Oh, well, at least something comes out of it.

And, now, I'll end with another picture of my hair sticking up. Because it's fun seeing how tall my hair can get!

...Okay, I'm done.


Anonymous said...

Nice pictures Andrew. I have to say though, that the fire in your hands thing needs a little something else, it kind of looks like you've set your hands on fire rather than holding fire, if you get my meaning. If I possessed the resources I'd probably be into photoshopping things as well, but my lack of a digital camera, and a good pc to work on are holding me back. Well, hope you have a pleasant holy week, see you around.

Anonymous said...

I really liked most of the pics. Some really a lot. The photoshopping which moved the fingers was imperfect only becasue of the color of the two moved fingers. They looked fake.
I didn't like your tall hair, but I did like the tendrils. I may request some.
Love you.

Anonymous said...

Wow Andrew...It's facinating what people do after they graduate from Catholic school and go to Berkeley. Of course, there's me who went to Catholic school all my life and I ended up at CSULB, but I look almost exactly the same as I did back then. Oh well, you are the master of Photoshop. I ended up using the picture of me with the LB skyline in the background for my campaign...Dear God, did I just call Long Beach "LB"? In almost twenty-one years, I have never once called Long Beach "LB".

Anyways, if you want, I can send you a JPEG or BMP of my campaign poster and handbill.

-Comrade Chavez