Thursday, January 8, 2009

The 7th Sign

"The 7th Sign"
This is the second art piece in my Zodiac series. The final image was a bit different from my original sketch. Sometimes, when I'm working on an image I find the creative flow floats me in a completely different direction! That's one of the things that I love most about creating digital art. Since Libra is ruled by Venus, I knew I wanted the planet to be in the image. Of course I don't have any photos of planets so I used a stock photo of one. It was originally against a black background so I found a starfield stock image. There were lots of "universe" and "starfield" stock photos but I wanted to make sure I got Blue and Green in there which are two of the colors of Libra. I used the starfield, along with the image of Venus to create a photographic universe. The final texture was music which is also associated with Libra. I combined those three things together to create my background: Once the background was done I worked on the main image which is a portrait of myself wearing a wonky old paint-splattered sheet that I use on the floor when I'm painting. It was the only white sheet I had which reminded me I really need to invest in some fabric for photo shoots! Luckily most of the paint spaltters where beige or white so they didn't show up too much.This shoot was done blindfolded (as you know, Justice is blind), I was so grateful I had Lita to make sure the sheet was draped properly, I was positioned correctly and my hair wasn't all wacked out. I needed to turn the sheet into a gown which I did by using using a Gradient Overlay and then blending the colors together by following the natural folds of the sheet. I did this with the smudge tool at 51% Opacity. This took the most hours and I felt like a nit-picker..getting each fold to reflect the correct shadow and light. The brooch was a brush which I laid onto the image in three separate colors and adding white diamonds, also a brush, to the top of it. The scales were shot in an antique store in Kinsley, Kansas:

The most frustrating part of this piece was the exposure of the scales. Because I shot them at a different location than the image of myself, the lighting did not match. Trying to get them to fit into the image seamlessly was exhausting to say the least. After much trial and error, I finally got the exposure corrected but now the color was another issue. Copper is the metal associated with Libra so I needed them to be copper in color. I did this by using my "Copper Kettles" image strictly for the color. I overlayed the image onto the scales and then used Gaussian Blur to turn it to just a blob of color. I masked out what I didn't need. I did the same thing to add color to my cheeks and lips using my "Summer Fruit" image of watermelon. I learned this technique from a Gale Franey Tutorial. I am constantly in AWE of her work and am so grateful she is one of those artists who loves to share her knowledge. Here is the link to the tutorial:

For the pedestal I used this image that I took in the Roman Forum during one of my trips to Italy: I cut out just the pedestal using the Pen tool (Thanks to Lita for showing me how easy it was to use!) and scaled it into the image. I matched color to the rest of the image, upped the contrast a bit and added some music texture over it. I then laid in the Lithros Pro text.

The final touches were to add the Zodiac wheel which was done with a photoshop brush, dodging some of the background, my hair and skin and to up the brightness and saturation to make it pop. Everytime I create a new piece I learn something new. On this piece I learned how to use images strictly for their color and how to use the Pen tool. I also learned when a piece is done, for me anyhow. If I stare at it for a long period of time without wanting to fix anything then it's good to go! :)


Sara-Jane said...

this is amazing! you have put alot of work in to this and have come out with stunning results!! well done

thanks for sharing with us

SJ (one of your contacts on flickr)

Alex said...

I Love it! You really took the time getting the lighting down perfect. I can't even begin to imagine what you have to do to get things to seem so natural. I like the way you incorporate the different aspects of the "sign" into the piece. It works great!

Laura said...

Thanks glad you came by to visit!

Thanks Alex! The lighting was the tricky part but I learned alot doing this piece. Thanks for your support!

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