I am most comfortable in…

Be Yourself

…jeans and a t-shirt.

So, the image that accompanies this post is definitely not my ordinary self. However, I try hard not to subject family and friends to my photoshop and blogging adventures, so this photo (part of a 60th birthday shoot) seemed a suitable candidate.

This month’s submission to Brenda’s Third Thursday Challenge was inspired by a Pinterest find (original post here) that provided instructions for using Photoshop masking and brushes to transform a black & white portrait into something quite different from the original. The procedure basically involves a levels adjustment to increase the contrast of the original image, use of a layer mask to either block or reveal portions of the image, and the addition of brushes and a gradient layer to lend an artistic touch to the end result.

I added a black layer mask to the high contrast photo (Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All) and, after setting the foreground color to white, used Photoshop’s “rough round bristle” brush to reveal portions of the image. I then added a couple of decorative brushes for detail on the left edge of the photo; one of those is set to dissolve to add a bit of speckle to the upper left of the image. A gradient adjustment added some color to the piece and, I must admit, I spent a good bit of time experimenting with gradient types and angles as well as mask opacities before finally settling on what you see here. The finishing touch is a bit of word art, though I reserve the right to change that if I come up with something I like better.

Observations as I went:

  • The levels adjustment significantly emphasized the crow’s feet by my eye. If I was vain, I would have brushed that out but, since I’ve earned every one of those wrinkles, I only adjusted them as necessary to make a better fit with the overall composition.
  • Eyes are important—I kept trying to reduce the opacity of the eye because I thought it was too prominent but, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, the eye(s) is the key component of  a portrait. In the end, the right eye and, to a lesser extent, the lips are the focal points of the composition.
  • Adjusting the gradient type (linear, radial, etc.) and the gradient angle significantly affected the overall composition. For example, some gradients ended up casting unappealing colors over the face; once I settled on the gradient type (linear), I was able to adjust the gradient’s angle to achieve the most appealing (to me) distribution of colors across the layout.
  • Leading lines are important. Though subtle in this composition, the golden brown color at the upper left, the eye and lips, and the word art at the bottom right help a viewer make his/her way through this image.
  • The word art ended up at the top of the layers panel because I didn’t want its coloration to be affected by the gradient layer. It is set to normal blending mode at 15% opacity.

Anna Aspnes Art Play Palette 1 (brush 8) and Art Play Palette 2 (brush 4)
Tina Chambers Autumn Shimmers 2 (word art)

8 thoughts on “I am most comfortable in…

  1. I love the way you’ve written “just” in here, as if it was a mere trifle to do! It looks seriously complex and a wonderfully artistic result :).

  2. Totally jeans and t-shirt-and no ruffles, pink, or florals. In fact, while that hat is working for you….I wouldn’t go there either. BUT…this image is fabulous. I am going to try this technique. I had done some colorized pencil sketches in the past, but it’s been awhile. And I’m right there withyou on the eyes.

  3. This is fantastic. Beautiful shot of you and I love what you’ve done with the processing – and thank you for taking us through your process and thoughts on it. I will definitely be giving this a try – thank you for the inspiration.

  4. Like you, I’m a jeans and t-shirt gal, but it’s fun to play dress-up once in a while. What a beautiful, painterly portrait you’ve done! I’m continually amazed at what the creative mind and heart can do in post-processing. I’m adding this to my growing list of Third Thursday discoveries to try. Happy 60th! I prefer to think of “crow’s feet” as laugh lines – evidence of a life well lived.

  5. Wanda – Wow! I love what you have done with this portrait. Such a unique transformation. Even though it may not be your normal style, I love the hat and the way it dips over your forehead – and the way you used that curve in the finished piece to add a beautiful linear rhythm.

    Now I am trying to think how I can use this idea in my own work. Thanks for providing the original link which gives us another take on this technique. This is a fantastic addition to the Third Thursday Challenge – thanks so much for participating and sharing your work.

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