madshutterbug (madshutterbug) wrote,

State of the Artist

Goals. Setting goals is often how we make progress, because simply, now we have a goal. I set a goal, earlier this year, that by September 30 I would know how to use Gimp. Gnu Image Processing package, an Adobe Photoshop® alternative, free open-source software, a

Likely I accomplished this goal. The last four of five images I've set up for printing I've processed through Gimp. The two I'm currently working on, both older projects that sat a bit needing more of this or that, I've processed through Gimp. There are things I miss, a bit, about Photoshop and that even in the old version I used. However, there are alternatives to everything, and when using an alternative to Photoshop, it's good to get to know them.

For quite some time (let's see, the version I used I acquired in, oh, '03 or '04) I've been using Layers. In fact, my use of Layers somewhat pre-dates even my photo manipulation, processing, post processing or whatever by a good couple handfuls of years. Layers (like much of Photoshop in particular) is really simply a concept which artists who grew up in the not-so-Dark Ages before personal computers will know about. Layers of clear acetate placed over a drawing, with additional elements of a drawing on them. My received first introduction to Layers in 1970, in my Engineering Graphics class at Aquinas college.

And Gimp does layers. Gimp might not possess an Adjustment Layer feature, however one can duplicate the basic layer and make Adjustments on those just fine. And Gimp does use Layer Masks, which allow for adjusting transparency quite selectively, and no doubt for more bits and pieces of work I've not quite figured out yet. So pretty much all the skills I'd acquired working in Photoshop I've transferred over to working in Gimp. Want to work with only a portion of an image, which is going to be composited into another image altogether? Use the appropriate selection tool, draw a container around that portion of the image. Copy selected, add a layer mask, clean up the outlines.

One of the pieces I've worked on I've posted a draft version earlier. I'm still on a 'working title' stage with this one, either Agni or Rage or something. What I've accomplished currently is adding a layer mask to the portion of the image that needed it, and cleared out all the portions of the Real World visible through the windows of that portion of the image. Now I can show Something Else through those windows. Still working on What Something Else, that's fine. It's that whole Layer Mask thing, makes those portions invisible/transparent. Lovely.

I've taken to adding another layer to images such as this, and filling it with a solid colour blue. This somewhat duplicates the effect commonly called 'blue screen' (and after completing evening rounds and most of a beer on nearly empty stomach, the proper technical name of the process is flittering about just out of reach). For my purposes, as I'm making portions of an image transparent that blue background provides the means to be sure I've eliminated all of the existing background. Sometimes, in some instances, leaving some of the original background to an image provides an effect I want and like; mostly it needs to Go Away.
Can do that. By September 30th.

The second old project recently revisited is creating a book jacket (for trade paperback) or a book dust jacket (for hard-back). I'd like to be someone providing art for book covers, felt that way for a bit. However, it is something akin to another area of interest and a related problem. How to convince someone (anyone in particular) that one has the ability to work on a subject without that subject being in ones portfolio.

It's handy to be able to show potential art models what one did create in the genre of Nudes when asking someone to pose dressed only in what they originally entered the world. The more one creates, the easier this is. Starting out though, said model might ask Well what have you done? It's possible to show other work, quality work, and convince someone one is serious (I did). It's also sort of like dating. I heard 'No' a lot.

Similar to that, I would like to make your Book Jacket Art. Well, what have you done? Um... art in general? So I am making a Non-Existent Book Jacket. There is some compositing going on with this (combine a studio shot of an individual with a street scene. Street scene need not be in the place where the (non-existent) story is taking place, simply needs to look right.

The rest of the project is graphic design. Well, design and some copy writing. So with a nod to a few friends of mine who received their college degrees in art and design (Hi Holly! Smile for the camera!) I embark on a venture. No, I've not 'studied' graphic design. Wait, what is 'study'. What is getting a degree? It is an intensely concentrated period of time when one looks at a lot of examples of graphic design, practices putting such together, getting it critiqued to improve and... OK, so I've looked at a lot of graphic design (book covers in particular for this discussion, in general, yes), but it's been spread out over a lot more time than four years for a degree.

As for the copy writing, believe it or not that's what part of the whole goal (there's that goal thing again) of posting something at least once a week into a blog involves. Writing. I may not be a genius like Shakespeare but I can turn out some copy. So a blurb for the back cover (Trade Paperback) or the inside front cover (Hard Back) along with some Glowing Reviews for the Piece (from equally non-existent publications) for the back side of the Dust Jacket (Hard Back), and an Author's Blurb. Wait... who the hell wrote this non-existent thing anyway? Um...

Still, I'm more than willing to turn commissioned artwork over to a designer, so long as it's in the purpose of creating a book jacket. Curious timing on some other things related to this, but more on that later.

Just now, it's time to 'publish' this onto the Web and then start getting things ready for dinner. Herself should be home from Tioga Market soon. Ta for now.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: art, photography, studio

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