For all those who are reading the title of this article and thinking to themselves, “What the crap is Cyberpunk?” … Well, according to the dictionary it is, “A genre of science fiction set in a lawless subculture of an oppressive society dominated by computer technology.” Just think “Blade Runner” and you’ve got the gist of it. As much as I love (and will obviously always love) to create stereotypical fantasy art, I’ve recently been super inspired to create artwork that leans on Cyberpunk themes. What’s not to love about neon lights, shiny leather, sunglasses at night, glowing technology, and in-your-face vibrant colors popping out of the dark moodiness of a dystopian futuristic city!?
For those of you who don’t know who Joel Robison is, kindly crawl out from under your rock and check out his work. (Is there internet under your rock? HOW ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS!?!?) … Joel is an absolute POWERHOUSE of talent, creativity, imagination, encouragement and he is just an all around super nice guy. Joel and a couple of my other photographer friends Kristina and Anton were visiting for a weekend so obviously we did multiple photo shoots. Duh.
About a zillion years ago (ok, it was February … so same thing basically), I created a self portrait image ( … ok, so it was several images) using ONLY lights from around my house. I wanted an exercise in something outside my current comfort zone and to challenge myself to get back to my photography roots.
I did a whole post about it. I encourage you to go and enjoy that blog post before reading this one, but it’s not required… or is it!? No, it’s not, but do it anyway. I then challenged any takers who might have felt like taking to also create a self portrait image without any traditional photography lights.
As an artist who shoots mostly composites, more often than not I’m going to be cutting out my subject and placing them in a different scene. A lot of the time I only have a rough idea of what kind of a background I’ll be using, so I just shoot my subject as best as I can and figure out the backdrop later. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m going to do with my model, but a wise and incredibly good-looking man once said, “You don’t always need a plan.”
HOWEVER, if I do a shoot knowing full well what my background looks like before I even pick up my camera, it makes everything a million times easier.
You know how sometimes, you build a composite and it looks ok, but not great? Something just feels a little bit off-ish? Yeah, this happens to everyone! There are actually a few easy tips that can up your compositing game significantly. Robert Cornelius just shared five of those tips and they will take your composites out of the dark dimension and into Asgard. (Yup, saw the Avengers on the weekend, it was awesome!).
We did a before/after for each of the tips so you can see the impact of using each of the techniques.
I wanted to share one of the images created for a tutorial I made, and chat a bit about one of my greatest compositing tips – hair extraction. You’re welcome. But if you’re all, “Thanks for the great tip about compositing Robert!” … But that’s just not enough. I want to know more!” Then you can go buy my tutorial and help pay off my epic student loan debt ….
I’ve been daydreaming lately about that magical time in my life about ten years ago when I bought my first DSLR (crap, hold on, AM I OLD!?) and photography really began to take over my life. Back in the day my shoots began with me creeping around my parents’ house, gathering up all of the lights I could find that weren’t attached to the walls or ceilings. My poor mom would come home from work, go to turn some lights on, and find them all to be mysteriously missing.
Layers on layers on layers on layers …. I’ve been working on this image for far too long, just long enough, but also not nearly as much as I’d like to? Needless to say, I put a lot of time and love into this edit and really really enjoyed the process of adding in the countless tiny details.
To be honest, it took some major restraint on my part to finally call it “done” and move onto the next project. Seriously though, people – I feel like I could continue to zoom way in and refine/add more details for-EVAH. Which is exactly what I’d like to talk about today: taking your time and adding more details!
I can’t tell you how many times I get comments like “Wow this is so cool; it almost looks like a painting!” Not that I’m complaining about that whatsoever; I take it as a compliment. It’s one of my goals when creating a work of art – to make something that isn’t quite a photo, but isn’t quite a painting. “Yes, but how do you make it look like that!?” Well, since you asked I guess I could explain some of the process. Obviously a LOT goes into making my images look the way they do. Fancy studio lighting and a hefty amount of digital painting play large roles, but one technique that really pushes my work towards that sort of hyper-real-digital-illustration-y-type-look is the use of the “Shadows/Highlights” adjustment.
Apparently I have a thing for making dragons. It’s not surprising, seeing as I grew up collecting them and have always been a proud fantasy-nerd. For those of you who don’t recall, I previously created a baby dragon in Photoshop from pictures of lizards, which you can check out here. I had so much fun doing it the first time, and apparently exploded a lot of brains with my creature-creating prowess.
I was thinking it was about time to attempt to cause some more mind explosions, plus I guess I just love dragons. I decided to make things a bit more interesting this time around and challenged myself to create a creature out of sticks rather than animal pieces. I feel I successfully completed my mission.