Several months prior to the start of summer, many designers I know are braving the cold of winter while searching for warm season themed images to fit their projects.
I’m happy to share over 50 new images uploaded to Warmpicture.com this weekend. There is nothing better than some pictures of warm weather scenics to help thaw a Northerner out in the cold of January.
One of my favorite new uploads is a combination of digital art and photography. I took one of my many sunset images and combined it with a color map to give it a surreal look, then framed it with an isolation of palm trees. The final step was to ensure the palm trees were blended in “Darken” mode inside of Photoshop to give them a silhouette look. The whole process took a few hours to complete.
While nothing can compare to a pure photograph taken with excellent exposure, many times I prefer the surreal look of digital art combinations. They convey a certain mystique and ambience which are perfect for stock usage and make great fine art. The deep orange throughout this particular image conveys a feeling of absolute warmth, more than any unfiltered photo could. Surreal, but effective.
So how did I create this image?
I started with a pretty good sunset image over the Atlantic Ocean. I tweaked the Levels in Photoshop until I had enough contrast to make the image pop more than a normal photo would. Then I used a second layer to create a Gradient of warm orange colors, with the lightest/brightest oranges centered in the lower third of the photograph pretty much in line with the sun in the photo. All the while I was careful not to introduce noise into the image, which is easy to do when you are popping things beyond reality.
I played with different Blend Modes in Photoshop, eventually settling on “Overlay.” I pulled back on the Opacity to about 25-35 percent to keep the original photo dominant. Remember that my goal was to enhance the original photo to a surreal, beyond-reality look. But I didn’t want to push things too far.
The last part was to add the isolated (cut out figures over white or over a transparent layer) palm trees. I keep many isolated figures in a folder so I can use them whenever I have a project which requires them. The isolation work can take several hours per tree to do it right, so it is important to get future usage out of them.
With the isolated palm trees selected in the new top layer, I darkened them quite a bit. I didn’t take them down to pure black, as I wanted to maintain some of the shape and texture of the trees. Then I changed the layer’s blend mode to “Darken.” With a pure isolation, I could theoretically combine them without use of a blend mode. But to my eyes, a “Darken” blend mode made for a better image combination. It also gave me the option of playing with the opacity if I desired.
And that was it. A lot of work, but totally worth my while. It may have been 20 degrees outside, but I was enjoying a gorgeous tropical image of my own imagination on my monitor. I am sure it will help out a lot of designers in the future.
While I am at it, I want to recommend Photoshopcafe for digital art tutorials within Photoshop. Much of what I have learned about Photoshop came from tricks and tips freely available at this fine web site.
Spring is only 2 months away. Think Warm!
- Dan Padavona, Warmpicture