Client: Deborah Krikun; Digital Imaging Class
Project(s): Hyper-realism (top), Collage (bottom)
Duration: January-May of 2016 (spring semester)
Team: Elena Savenko (me, myself, and I, in other words)
Description: The goal of this project was to create a surreal image that appeared natural, thus fooling the viewer into thinking that said image could be real. The concept that was chosen for creation was based upon the topic of felines being hunted and killed for the monetary values of their fur, fangs, claws (etc), and for the “entertainment” that it brings to the hunters. The image consists of a roaring lioness whose fangs have been replaced by bullets of a high caliber, wisping smoke coming out of the nostrils, and finally, a brick wall covered in decaying graffiti as a background. What the image was supposed give off is a sense that the hunters that have become the hunted (i.e. the lions that have been turned into prey by humans) have now taken back their status of hunters. In other words, this piece was set in a reality where these beasts have evolved with the weapons that were used to hunt them as their own (i.e. the bullet fangs).
Then, I found out about the documentary film entitled Lioness (which was produced by 11 Room Production) about the untold story of the first women in U.S. history to be sent into direct ground combat. These women were the first members of the military team called Team Lioness. After finding out about this film, I decided to make a mock-poster for it. It fit perfectly in with the general idea of the image (the teeth that are bullets- very military esque, the wisping smoke too. Not to mention the over all fierceness of it) so all I needed to do was add the text.
Research: Before executing this project, I went out to gather all my assets. Out of the hundreds of pictures of roaring lionesses, I chose this one in particular because I felt as though a profile view would be the best option to work with. After gathering all of my assets, I went to work. The next time I turned back to google was at the end of the project- researching the documentary film Lioness. Other than those two moments, this project didn’t require much researching.
Strategy: Once all of my assets have been gathered, I went to work. The first order of business was to remove the background and isolate the lioness. After I’ve isolated as much of the lioness as possible, I erased the background. The next problem came when I needed to control the lighting of the piece. There were some extremely bright highlights on the head and the chin but I’ve managed to tone them down (as much as possible) using the different curves of lighting. After I’ve managed to make the lioness look more-or-less presentable, I decided to leave her (as a whole) for now and move on to the details.
Loading the bullet assets into the picture plain, I separated them from their respective background as well. Using the select tool, I dragged them (one by one) to their respective place and began using a series of tools in order to make them look realistic. First, I cut them up and used the Patch Tool to fill in any gaps where the actual bone was showing through. Then, I used the Blur Tool to blend the pieces together and make them more natural looking. After a few minutes of going back and forth between the various tools of select, patch tool, blending, and brushing, I managed to achieve the look I wanted, so I copied it and pasted it all around the mouth. Then I went back in with the Blur Tool to, once again, make it all look more natural.
Then, I added the wisping candle smoke. I decided to put a Luminosity filter on it to make it look brighter, which I then followed by a blending tool. After I added the background of the brick wall, it became evident that the lioness needed more definition, so I put a drop shadow on the image, along with some highlights, in order to achieve that. And finally to complete the image, I added the text.
Challenges: The challenges I have faced during this project weren’t very significant but certainly annoying. I think the biggest one has to be effectively controlling the light in the picture, which (to be honest), I still haven’t mastered properly. I could not figure out how to change the highlights on the lioness’s head and after wrestling with it for a few hours, I gave it up and decided it was fine the way it is.
Another challenge that I was faced with was making the text appear visible without it looking tacky. Which was also figured out in the end (using drop shadows).
Results: As an artist, I try out new ways of creating art all the time. Photoshop is not a new tool for me per se, I certainly have used it before, but mostly for fooling around with painting- no serious projects. This was an, overall, positive experience for me. For someone who wasn’t very great with the tools, I think the way the Hyper-Realist project turned out was pretty great. I probably could have done better given more patience, but I’m still happy with the results.
Description: The goal of this project was to create a 30-second, animated video based upon the chosen concepts. After a prolonged period of thinking of when I should create, I decided to create an animated logo for NASA. The video consists of the lettering getting smaller as it falls into place while the background is a rapidly changing slide show of galaxies with a black border. As all of that is happening, in the foreground the viewer observes a shuttle dragging the red streak of the logo across the screen- both eventually disappear. Eventually, when the logo is nearly complete, the red streak fades back on screen and completes the logo. The poster (aka one of the keyframes) is a frame that appears at the very end of the video when everything has fallen into place.
Research: In preparation for this project, I ended up doing hours of research before locating the topic I wanted to cover. As suggested by Professor Krikun, I looked into sustainability so try and find inspiration. Hours were spent googling deforestations, floods, tornados (etc), until I finally figured out that I wanted to do something NASA related. So after I had that figured out, I went ahead and began locating my assets. It was more difficult to find a good picture of a space shuttle than I had previously anticipated. After that was located, I went ahead and sifted through hundreds of pictures of galaxies and nebulae to located the ones that appealed to me.
Strategy: After I’ve located all of my assets, I went ahead and separated the shuttle from it’s background. Giving it some thought, I decided that the best way to puzzle together the logo was to take it apart completely and work from there. So I went to a program I knew better than Photoshop (PaintTool SAI), where I re-drew the logo components (the red streak, the blue circle, the white shooting star and other stars, and the lettering). The original lettering of the logo is quite angular but I decided to make an alteration to the more current, curve-filled lettering.
After I had everything in place, I decided it was time to start animating. As time went on, I realized that having the galaxies and nebulae as a changing background while the logo takes its form became too chaotic and busy. Following Professor Krikun’s advice, I ended up making the background totally black with the middle a circle inside of which, the changing space scenes are happening.
In the first few seconds of the clip, the space shuttle drags the red streak of the logo across the screen, disappearing with it at the end of the frame. I needed to figure out a place and time for it to re-enter which proved to be more difficult than expected. Rather than following my original idea of having the shuttle once again drag and drop it, I decided to make it fade in on screen. The reason for that decision was the same as for having the white stars fade in- because it made for a better look.
As for the background, flashing space pictures, I simply made the duration of each picture around a second long and repeated them throughout the video.
Challenges: There were quite a few challenges down the road. The first, and most important challenge, was figuring out how I wanted all of the components to move and interact. That bit was difficult because of my constantly changing mind. After looking at some videos of animated logos, I finally figured out what I wanted out of this.
The next problem that arose was actually bringing it to life. After plenty of trial and error, I decided that a good way to approach this would be to take apart the logo and then put it back together. However, that did not go well because it ended up being too crowded. So clearing up the chaos was a bit of a challenge.
I think that by far, the biggest challenge I encountered was getting the pictures of the background to repeat properly. What I mean by that is figuring out the prefect duration period (not too short, not too long) and then cutting them all to be that amount of time. Of course, not all of them are the same length, but they’re as close as I could get them to be. In the end, I think I ended up making at least three copies of each image and having them loop one after another. It may sound easy, but figuring out the exact stop time of one and syncing that with the start of the other is not easy at all.
And my final challenge was figuring out how to have the text zoom out until it fell into the place (and size) I wanted it to be. That had an extremely simple fix- I needed to uncheck a box in a drop down menu and it fixed everything (whatever though, it’s not like I’m still irked by that).
Results: I am by no means an animator, video editor, (or any of those), nor do I claim to be. As someone who has friends studying this field, I knew how hard it would be going in. Although I don’t believe it was nearly as difficult as it could have been if I were trying to solve this on my own. Even though this was my first time ever doing animation of any kind, I am extremely proud of the way this came out. Now, in person, I may say this is a pile of garbage (though it probably is), but that’s just because I’m an artist and think that everything I create is trash. This project wasn’t just a valuable learning experience, but also on the fun side of the spectrum. I am very pleased with the end result of this video (especially with audio, though be it my will, I would add a song by an awesome orchestra called Two Steps From Hell, but copyright). This project was much easier than the very first one (Hyper-Realism) probably because it was a different subject matter. Okay well maybe not much easier- they both had their respective difficulties but still. I would definitely attempt similar things (to this) again.