Saturday, July 31, 2010

Written On My Skin - Photo Manipulation

This is in part inspired by Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and my musings on how we 'read' people. In the Oscar Wilde story people's perception of Dorian is wrong because the signs of his life as they are written on his face etc are not visible but only shown the hidden painting of Dorian. How do we 'read' people? How do you explain a sudden like or dislike of a person you know nothing about? There are many conscious decisions we make about people but probably far, far more subconscious decisions that allow us to get an 'idea' of a person just by looking at them, be it the shape of their mouth, the lines on their faces, the expression in their eyes or their body language, and all the many others we don't even know about.

I've chosen to 'cut' off the model's lovely head for two reasons. For one I wanted to 'cut off' the usual way for us to read people and instead show all the other ways and secondly I wanted people to be able to identify themselves with the image.

The barbed wire is a symbol of how people's perceptions of us and the decisions and choices they make on this perception limits us.

See the accompanying poem here.

Model: Rael C
Photographer: Marcus Ranum
Perchance to dream - 2 by mjranum-stock
Texture: Backblech 01 by sundel


Friday, July 30, 2010

The Witch is Dead! - Photo Manipulation


Welcome to the alternative, dark version of Oz, where the witch is well and truly dead (although, personally, I think that's a shame), where the Tin Man has been turned into scrap metal and the Lion into barbecue. ;-)

Read the interview here.

Inspired by the interpretations of Oz as found in Stephen King's Dark Tower series and Tad Williams' Otherworld

All other images/textures my own.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stormqueen - Photo Manipulation

Inspired by the book of the same name, Stormqueen! by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Darkover Series).

I've always loved the book and the concept of a sorceress able to direct the weather (and storms).

Here's my poem Stormqueen

All my own images, textures and brushes, except for

Model - White II by fetishfaerie-stock



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wood Nymph - Photo Manipulation

I was playing with my own premade backgrounds. This particular image was inspired by the photos of the Cottingley Fairies. Arthur Conan Doyle was apparently convinced that the 'faries' were real, although to me they look like paper cutouts... Odd. Photo manipulation certainly has come a long way since 1917.

Created with my own textures/images/brushes, plus

dramatic ballerina by AttempteStock


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dreaming of Camelot - Photo Manipulation

I was playing with my textures/brushes to create a background... Of course I had to try out if it worked... This is what came about.

Inspired by my love of all things King Arthur. :-)

All images/textures/brushes my own, except for the stock below.

Ana25 by faestock
We Shall Have Spring Again by Elandria


Download my brushes

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tutorial: Using and Creating Brushes in Photoshop


There are three types of brushes in Photoshop (TM):
  1. Drag brushes – which react in the same way as a brush or pencil; depending on your tablet settings the appearance changes (lighter, thinner, darker, wider)
  2. Dab brushes – these are similar to stamps and used in the same way – to add texture, to add decorative elements.
  3. Scatter brushes – these are really just a sub group of either of the above, and are often used for repetitive elements (leaves, stars etc); by dragging the brush over the page you get a continuous flow of the brush image scattered across the area you painted; the appearance depends on the settings in the brush controls and your graphic tablet's settings.
To Paint with Brushes 

You need to select the brush tool
Then you make changes to the brush selected (size, blend mode, opacity, flow)
Or select a different brush by clicking on the little arrow next to the brush image. 
Or you can load a different brush set:
 Once you have selected your brush, paint with it. 
If you use dab brushes, I suggest you use a different layer for each instance so you can then move, rotate, 
or scale your brush image or add layer styles to each (see below for more information).
Modifying BrushesYou can either modify the appearance of a brush by changing the brush settings or by changing the layer style.
To use the layer style
  1. Create a new layer.
  2. Use a dab or scatter brush and paint.
  3. Select Layer, Layer Style, Blending Options and use any of the available options:
… to create effects like the ones above.
Each effect was created by using one or more of the layers styles available in the menu.

To change the appearance of a brush
  1. Open the brush controls.
  2. Select any of the options in the controls to change the appearance. 

  3. The change will depend on the brush. So have a play.
Creating New BrushesOpen a new file – consider the resolution and image size as it will affect how much detail is shown 
in your new brush.  

  • For a dab brush I often use a DPI of 300 and an image size of 10x10cm . 

  • For a drag brush I often use the same DPI of 300 but a much smaller image size. 

  • For a scatter brush I use the same DPI of 300 and a medium size.
  1. Select a brush.
  2. Paint.
  3. Select the are you painted using the rectangular selection tool.
  4. Select Edit, Define Brush Preset.
  5. Give your brush a name and click on OK.
    VoilĂ , your brush has been created.
To edit the brush
1.Open the Brush Controls.
2.Select the brush in the Brush Presets in the brush controls.
3.Make any relevant changes.

Here are a few examples for changes you might want to make
  • For a dab brush, change the Spacing in the brush tip shape tab so each dab image is separate from the next. I also found it effective to add a Texture to create a grunge effect.
  • For a drag brush, you could change the Shape Dynamics, Other Dynamics, or Add Wet Edges.
  • For a scatter brush, you need to add Scattering. It's also a good idea to change Other Dynamics and Colour Dynamics.
To save your brush
Note: Your brush is automatically saved when you first create it, however, when you make changes to it, the changes are not saved. You have to save those changes manually:

Once you've made your changes
  1. Click on the arrow in the Brush Control dialog.
  2. Click on New Brush Set. This will display a new dialog with the original brush name plus a number. Change the name or keep it. If you keep it, don't forget to delete your original brush so you don't get too many brush versions of one brush.
To save a brush set
When I decide to create a brush set, I create a completely new brush set by resetting the brushes and deleting all brushes from it. I then save it under a new name. Now all new brushes I create will be automatically added to this new brush set. Once you've created a brush, make sure you use Save Brushes (accessed from the Brush Control dialog).

This is by no means meant to be a complete tutorial on brushes, but it should give you an idea what is possible, plus an understanding of brushes in PS and how to use them and a few tips that hopefully will help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Check out the help file in your Photoshop software to get more detailed information on all the dialogs and methods mentioned.

© Sybille Sterk
Two free brush sets to download:
MagpieMagic PS Meadow Brushes
MagpieMagic PS Gothique Brushes 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mind Castles - Photo Manipulation

This is the illustration to accompany my poem of the same name.

It's easy to be smug about other people's escapism, but I believe it's an essential survival tool for most of us, be it watching a soppy film, reading a thriller (and imagining yourself as the dashing hero) or sitting on a bench during your lunch break and day dreaming. Let's face it, most of our lives aren't the kind you find in films, often there isn't a happy ending and a deus ex machina is a rare occurence.

So this is for all the daydreams that made our lives a little brighter and a little happier.

The image was as difficult to get right as the poem... however, I am happy it has the feel I was after now. :-)

Textures and Backgrounds
All other images/textures are my own.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Free Your Mind - Photo Manipulation

The antidote to Abyss.... and
illustration to accompany my poem of the same name.
  • Butterfly 42-15876680 by jjd
  • Butterfly 3  by jjd
  • Butterfly BXP27797 by jjd
Textures and Backgrounds
PS Custom Shapes
All other images/textures are my own.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Abyss - Photo Manipulation

Illustration to accompany my poem of the same name.

Inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's quote:
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Background and Textures
Lightening  by spiritsighs-stock
Sparklies Photoshop Brushes by redheadstock
Cloud Brushes HiRes Nr.1 of 5 by leboef
Cloud Brushes HiRes Nr.2 of 5 by leboef

All other textures and images are my own.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Botanica - Prints

The Botanica collection is also available as prints on my Redbubble account:
MyFreeCopyright MCN: CDGEQ-3BH3B-QQGC4
 MyFreeCopyright MCN: C33A2-ML4X7-SMJGT
MyFreeCopyright MCN: C98TD-NSRUX-NKMK2
MyFreeCopyright MCN:C98TD-NSRUX-NKMK2
MyFreeCopyright MCN: CLJR2-K1DWM-TB7SS
MyFreeCopyright MCN: CY8H3-FFY53-9Q3UB
The designs are all available as high quality matted, laminated and mounted prints, on canvas and framed or as posters. Once I've finished the collection (this is only half of it) there will also be a calendar.

The first four designs (Bird of Paradise, Butterfly Orchid, Marilynin Ottawa Orchid, Dendrobium Dixanthum Orchid) are also available in my Envelop shop from the 15th July 2010.

All images are copyright protected by

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