Adventures in Photoshopping

In 2013 I gave my girlfriend an A2, canvas print of a photoshopped version of a sketch I drew for her, not long after we first met. For 2014, I thought I’d try something more ambitious: a triptych of A1 prints.

Rough sketches for the triptych...

Rough sketches for the triptych…

The scene I had in mind was a view of a sunny bay, possibly mediterranean, from a balcony. I sketched the barest details of the geography on a notepad, and expanded on it properly on my art pad. I needed to add details – plants, animals, pathways hinting at a bigger world beyond the frame, that sort of thing. I sketched it again in photoshop using a Wacom tablet, and added a rough colour scheme.

I used the rule of thirds to divide each panel of the triptych, and help with placement of some of the little details.


Finding photos and painting with a Wacom tablet to help fill out the background…

The next part was deciding which photos could help me fill in diffrent parts of the scene. I split the project into three groups: a background layer consisting of sand, sea and sky; a middle layer with plants and a pathway; and a balcony scene in the foreground containing a table with wine glasses and books.

Luckily, a summer holiday to Cornwall provided a lot of material, particularly the Isles of Scilly and the area around Minack Theatre. I also used pictures of a trellis I made, with artificial flowers in it. A combination of all of these, plus some ‘painting’ allowed me to build up the scene.

Triptych-wip0708-sketches copy

Placement, sizing, painting and blending helped the elements work together.

It’s quite tricky visualising how much is going to be used, and how to blend everything so the colour and lighting all fit. It doesn’t take much for something to look wrong and stand out, whether from perspective, or lighting.

There were quite a few mornings of looking at the previous day’s work and deciding what didn’t fit. Some elements, like rays of light from the sun, were scrapped and redone from scratch. Others, like the pathway on the left, had to be painted from scratch, and have texture layers applied and warped and distorted to fit.


Final version of the triptych.

Once everything was in place, and the colours, textures and tones all worked to my liking, I applied Photoshop’s watercolour filter. From a distance, it doesn’t make too much difference, but close-up, it helps give the whole scene a more consistent look.

I’ve divided the file into three A3 panels at 300dpi. (The photoshop files for each layer set each ran to 1-2GB in size; this sucker was HUGE!). All I need to do now is get them printed onto A1 canvas in the next six weeks or so…

This is by far the most ambitious art project I’ve worked on. It took weeks to complete, but it was great fun!

3 responses to “Adventures in Photoshopping

  1. Pingback: Kingdom of the Wicked: cover & art | Observaterry·

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