Tag Archives: photoshop

Winter Wonderland

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These colors exist in nature.

This is my first experiment with filters; I didn’t actually do the work in Photoshop, but in the Photos app that comes with this Mac OS. There’s something very magical to me about this image, although I think I could improve it by giving the sky a blue cast. In reality, it was a gray, cloudy day when I took the original photo, and no amount of tinkering changed that. Maybe I should have cropped it?

The Chicago Botanic Garden has long been one of my top places in the world. I grew up just a few miles down the road and my parents always had a membership, so I spent a lot of time there as a child. This is the Japanese Garden, Sansho-En. I consider it unique among gardens in that it is equally beautiful and interesting regardless of the season. Even in the dead of winter, even under many inches of snow, it still retains a quality of life that always inspired me, even in the deepest throes of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

One of the main reasons I moved to Arizona was that autumn and winter in the midwest were draining my life force, physically and emotionally. The changing of the leaves, the fading of the green, filled me with great sadness. But at Sansho-En, these things did not happen. It is always colorful. It never looks dead.

What is this, a doorway for ants?

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Yes, that is exactly what it is: a doorway for ants.

There were a couple interesting shots on my last roll, including a couple decent but not mind blowing bee pictures, some vast sweeping vistas, majestic trees, weirdly blue skies beside ominous silver clouds, lines of distant storms on the horizon, things of that nature. But this seems to be the most striking image. It’s a yucca flower, into which the ants have cut their own ant-size door for nefarious ant purposes. Took a couple good shots of ants on other blossoms slipping in and out between the edges of the petals, but this bud must have been especially tasty, because the ants just couldn’t bother with all that mucking about between layers. They just went straight for the core, like a mad scientist with a mole machine. Ants are pretty interesting.

I messed around with the contrast and such in Photoshop just to really bring out as many details as possible. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of yucca flowers, which grow in great, beautiful clusters, but they don’t seem to really stand out in pictures. I guess that’s true of most white flowers. Maybe if you put them against a black background.

Also found a couple recently deceased figeater beetles. These are large bugs with splendid iridescent green shells. I wanted to say “carapaces,” but Google told me that carapaces aren’t associated with beetles, and only refer to the top part of the shell, whereas the figeaters are more resplendent on their undersides, for some reason. Will try to figure out how best to capture their visual essence.

Had two positive, encouraging, useful interactions with great writers today. That’s always nice. They both have suggestions for things I must do to be more successful, on top of the list of things the Rabbit has already told me I have to do to be more successful. The Fox cancelled our Tuesday writing meetup due to an in-law situation which required his emotional support, but Misses Kitty came over instead and persuaded me to make her brownies. I tried to invent a new sugar-free, gluten-free brownie recipe and instead invented a new sugar-free, gluten free chocolate cake recipe. It’s pretty good. You’d never guess it was sugar-free or gluten free.

It’s not even midnight. I promised to create a logo for someone, which will benefit me in the long run, so even if it’s not necessary an integral part of the list of thing I must do to be more successful, it’s still a thing I should day. And I guess every time you succeed at something, you are more successful.

ETA: Redditor blacksheep998 seems to think that this door is too big for ants and that it is actually a bumblebee door.

Old, Rolled Mandala

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Ever have one of those incarnations when you feel like you’re just eating your own tail?

Whilst searching for some other document (never found; can’t even remember what it was now), came across this blast from the past: one my first mandalas. Not sure about the date, but probably from sometime in the mid-’90s, although it could be earlier. Sketching it out was meticulous work; I literally used a compass and a protractor to get all the curves and angles. The center part shows the phases of the moon, and the cardinal points are trees during the 4 seasons.

After putting so much effort into making the sketch perfect, I then became terrified to ruin it by trying to color it, so it just hung out in a tube for 15 or 20 years. No idea how it got stained…the stains are not as bad as they look, but rather amplified due to the Photoshop correction I had to do to the original image just to make the pencil lines clearly visible.

The whole this is pretty banged up, and, of course, held together with scotch tape, but none of that matters anymore, because now I do have Photoshop. I could draw a clean and more perfect copy in a relatively short period of time, and I could color it in a million different ways without ruining the original. Would make a wicked cool T-shirt.

Not that I don’t have 50 other projects.

Halloween Insult Comics

You're both so ugly people go as you for Halloween.

You’re both so ugly people go as you for Halloween.

Special fangs to the dear friend  (referred to, here and there in Dragon comics as the Vampire Bat, for reasons that must soon become clear) who sends out Halloween care packages every year and in whose honor this spooky insult comic was created. Most of the items in the image are from this year’s Halloween box; one is from a few years ago, and there’s also a commemorative matchbook for Bonnie Jo Campbell’s first novel, Q Road. You can’t make it out that well, but it’s a pumpkin with a butcher’s knife sticking out of it. Anyway, these buttons cracked me up the most. The jack-o-lantern especially looks like a real jerk.

Sadly, I still live in the desert, so all the chocolate in the Halloween box melted. However, the box itself is pretty nice. 1000 household uses. Skull Face and Jack-o-Lantern may insult each other in front of it again in the future. So spooky!

Ah, it’s all in good fun.

Tomorrow I have a photo shoot for a hair color blog. Financial remuneration has been suggested. Art!

Butterflies Are Pollinators, Too

Taking Flight

Taking Flight

Wow, am I ever having hardware problems. The computer is getting old and it gets weirdly sluggish at times. I deleted thousands and files just to make it work at all, but somehow Photoshop was having trouble with this image, so I wasn’t able to play with it much. Monarch butterflies in the pollination garden at ASDM. I’ve been trying to get this up for an hour and I’m all out of patience. I’m starting to really miss comics, but I have a few more things I have to accomplish this week before there’s headspace for that. So: butterfly. Maybe my sinuses will clear up, and then I can stop taking all this medication, and then my head will clear up, and everything will be easier.

I’m dizzy because I took Nyquil. Perhaps I should call it a night.

What Goes Up

Sometimes you have to land.

Sometimes you have to land.

This hummingbird lives in one of the aviaries at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum; this picture was taken last Wednesday in the late afternoon. It’s cropped pretty closely and then I played with the color until it matched my mind’s eye a little more closely. The brightness is correct, but I’m afraid the color at the bird’s throat might not be. If this is, as I suspect, an Anna’s hummingbird, the tone should be more purple than red. Still can’t trust the camera. But the untouched image doesn’t come close to demonstrating the brilliant dazzle of a hummingbird in sunlight and this is a little more indicative.

Like the hummingbird, I need to rest between flights. I have a couple more pictures like these, from that same day, which I’ll try to share this week, but I’m taking a little vacation from comics. They’re noisy in my brain and I need some space to think. I want to write a poem, and an article about comics, and finish at least 2 T-shirts, so it’s time to land for a few days. I think I’ll sit on the floor, with a notebook and a pen, and write.

The Altar of Experience

Steal your own life.

Steal your own life.

This is my little motivational poster from yesterday when experience kicked me in the head. The really sad part is that the knowledge I took away was something I’ve always known and only periodically forget, which is to save your work, you fool. In my defense, that’s what I was trying to do when everything crashed. This version is pretty cool, but the initial D in the original was so much more elegant. That lettering took about 90 minutes, which seems excessive. Why don’t I improve at calligraphy, something I’ve practiced all my life.

Constructing the altar of experience was a lot of fun. That little artist’s model really isn’t good for much; his legs are different lengths and his his joints don’t move very far and he’s actually not capable of assuming many natural poses. However, he does have magnets in the little wedges that serve as his hands and feet, which has possibilities. I considered a few items he could be holding in a 3D comic before I gave him the book and let him hang upside down. He could hold, for example, a tiny metal sword and shield. The idea for the text came after the visual concept, which never happens with comics, but sometimes does for bulletin boards.

Still have a couple comic ideas kicking around, but this stiff-limbed little wooden fellow has some possibilities. Got a few things in the works.