Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Create Fantasy Art

Halloween is just two weeks away. It's the time for imagination to soar, for myth and fantasy to take hold,  for young and young-at-heart to transform themselves into ghosts, ghouls and goblins.  If you've always felt like a superhero, this is the time to dress the part.

Oddly,  while Halloween has never been a favourite holiday of mine, I'm a huge fan of fantasy and make believe. Since childhood,  my vivid imagination has taken the common place in some strange directions.  I have been able to take 'what ifs' in life and paint them into pictures with a fantastical brush, an art I honed as a youngster. 

Also, while my childhood peers were content to play out their fanciful adventures, I loved to put them to paper.  I penned tales of love, romance and dastardly deeds. Now, when my husband is a few minutes late coming home, my mind envisions a reason worthy of a Dean Koontz novel.

Reading the aforementioned author, a favourite of mine,  I'm able to accept the stories he weaves no matter how fanciful they might be. My fascination with possibilities overrides improbabilities.

Watching movies, I have no problem checking common sense at the door as I enter a world far from any known reality.

Why not, then, take that fantasy into the already imaginative world of art and illustration? I have scoped out some terrific tutorials to do just that:

Create Fantasy Art

Fantasy Art Tips

Fantasy Effect

50 Imaginative Fantasy Art Photoshop Tutorials

Dreamy Fantasy Art Photoshop Tutorials

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Celebrating the Blue Jays With Baseball Clipart

Go Jays! What a night it was for Canadians. After a 22-year drought, our only Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays,  will be playing for the American League Championship as a result of defeating the Texas Rangers in a nail-biting contest last night.

It had been an interesting best-of-five series, beginning with the local boys losing the first two games at home, one of which many believe came as a result of some bad calls from the home plate umpire.

Then, the team returned the favour in Texas to tie it and bring the series clincher back to home field.  The fifth match-up was one of the most intense, highlighted by a wild seventh inning, that involved a controversial call against Toronto, followed by three errors from the Rangers and a three-run homer by Jose Bautista to give the Jays a solid lead.

Given that in this country we are currently in the middle of a federal election campaign which isn't making anyone feel warm and fuzzy, it's nice to get behind something exciting, positive and unifying. Right now, from coast to coast, Canadians have come together to root, root, root for the home team.

And it's awesome.

So with a brain still full of images from last night's game, the only direction I could take here when thinking about clipart was toward baseball illustrations. Here are some terrific collections from iCLIPART.com :

Baseball Logos

Baseball Cartoons

Baseball Babies

Baseball Players and Elements

Baseball-Themed Illustrations

Humorous Baseball Cartoons


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How To Get Good Contrast in Photography

For a long time I saw the world in black and white. A pixelated version perhaps, but monochromatic all the way.

As editor of a community newspaper, I oversaw the selection of photos for the week's issue.  What I discovered early was how important good contrast was for impact.  Without the mix of colour to add appeal  (seldom money in the budget for that)  it was easy to see how even a good shot could be lifeless if the contrast wasn't there. 

As it is with a landscape, flat is boring. You need the depth, the highs and lows to create interest and pull people in.

How to achieve this without spending a good deal of time in processing though, was often a challenge for staff.  The budget of a small weekly meant that journalists were typically writers, forced by necessity into the position of photographer too.  Post-secondary education had included courses on using a camera, but the people we hired as reporters were often more intent on perfecting their writing, rather than their photography.

The 'fun' was always the many times we got that awesome photo that sadly had no quality. So we flashed, dodged and burned in the dark room, then later with the introduction of digital technology, puttered away in Photoshop to bring the greatness to life.  All the while thinking it would sure be nice if we had managed this from the beginning.

With that career behind me, and my interest in photography as a hobby growing, I've decided to change thought to action. These great tutorials should get that process started:

Digital Photography School Get Better Contrast in Your Photography

Get Great Contrast in Photography

Handling High Contrast

Understanding Contrast in Photography

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How to Improve and Enhance Photos in Photoshop

Well the final long weekend of the year has passed in Canada.  From Saturday until Monday as we enjoyed glorious autumn weather, families counted their blessings and expressed gratitude for them all as we celebrated Thanksgiving.

At our home, the gathering was on Sunday, giving me the next day to recover from  all of the busyness. With the exception of doing a few loads of laundry, I spent most of the day recharging my batteries, snuggled  in a chair on the deck to read a book, then later on a couch to watch the Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Texas Rangers. 

In between, however, I also took some time to go through the photos I took on Sunday. Covering everything from mealtime to the fun and games afterwards I did my best to record the time for present loved ones and posterity.   There was the family at the dinner table, the candid shots of besotted adults cuddling  babies,  father and son playing catch,  and the card game finale.

For the most part the results were fine, not works of art perhaps, but adequate.  With some lighting issues, a few, however, failed to make the grade.

Fortunately,  image editing programs can improve many mistakes.  Here are a few tutorials on enhancing and retouching photos in Photoshop:

How to Enhance and Retouch

Enhance Colours With Photoshop's Photo Filter

Improve a Photo in 2 Steps with Screen Mode

Easily Enhance an Image

Fixing Exposure With Shadow/Highlight

Darken Overexposed Photos With Multiply Blend Mode

Add Contrast

Enhance Contrast