Composites & Abstracts

Posted by Gary Briney on Mon Jan 23, 2006 12:41 am

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A P&DA Technique
Realistic compositing is practically synonymous with Photoshop in common usage, and many books have been written about the subject, so I'll just focus on creating abstract composites here.

Abstract composites offer a great deal of latitude in image choice, as well many options in blending. Matching image size is less important if you're making an abstract, because you can stretch the smaller image if need be. Doing so may give an interesting distortion. The limitation on stretching of course is when pixelation becomes apparent, but even that can sometimes be used to advantage.

Here are details of the construction of the spring blossoms in the style of a Japanese print, and a summary for a couple of earlier ones. I began with the concept of combining an in-camera blur image of Bradford Pear blossoms (L below) with a simulated moon with branches on top. Even though the blossoms were blurred, the image still seemed a bit too photographic so I used the Impressionsit Photoshop plug-in to begin the abstraction process (R below.)

Since white blossoms weren't what I had in mind, I next tried some color adjustments using Hue/Saturation, arriving at these blue (L below) and lavender (R below) versions.

At this point, I decided to have a look at blending options, and a difference blend of these two (L below) appealed to me, so I added an off-white circle for the moon and lowered the opacity a bit (R below.)  

Next I added a crop of some branches as the top layer, and tried different orientations, ending up with this one (L below) because of the framing of the moon. In order to get a pleasing balance of the moon brightness, while keeping the branches dark and distinct, I brushed over the lines of the branches in a new adjustment layer. I adjusted proportions and density of the image to be a bit closer to traditional Japanese prints (R below) and then finally added the kanji characters for "plum tree" as a finishing touch.

Other Approaches
Of course composite abstracts don't need to involve so many steps. Often using a single image, flipped and blended with the original can give surprisingly results in a moment of inspiration. That was essentially the approach used to get this seascape image (L below.) Purely abstract images using a strong pattern such as reflected ripples over another image with bright color such as a flower can also give good results (R below.)

It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get -- just like Forrest's mama said. :wink:

Photoshop Masking & Compositing (Katrin Eismann - New Riders 2005)
Layers & Masks - Full Control in Photoshop: Layers & Masks (Tim Grey 1/31/2008)
Impressionist - a plugin with a wide variety of artistic effects; download
G. Briney

Last edited by Gary Briney on Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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