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The Other Side of Eden [Tutorial]

With roots busting thru it becomes clear it is about self destruction. Not
allowing our foundation to develop and on weak ground we grow
old. As we are slowly dying, like the tree on the hill, the planet starts to
crumble and break into parts of non recognizable pieces of
oneself.

“The Other Side of Eden” by Craig C

Before getting started I like to say hello to all and I hope everyone is doing well. This will be my first tutorial so I hope I have done it in a way that you will get something out of it. This article is not as much as a technical piece as it is a piece on how to challenge yourself and explore unfamiliar applications to inspire a concept and your creativity.

I would like to list the apps first that was used in this lesson before we get into the digging.

So here is the list pretty much in the order I used them..

1.Tiny Planet

2.Superimpose

3. Noir

4.OldPhotoPro

5.ArtStudio

5. Photoforge2

6. Snapseed

I photographed with the 4s and edited on the iPad Retina.

Looking to spend sometime playing with some new apps and seeing what I could accomplish with them, and also creating a self challenge to a different workflow even if it is this once, I embarked on my app collection of the unused. First the app “Tiny Planet”. I normally stay away from any app or software program that creates the piece for me. For instance apps that might create special effects like lightning, rain or other effects that with time and patience I can photograph or create myself. There is something to be said about doing all your photography and staying away from stock images and effects. Yes it requires more work or even a change in direction sometimes to get what you want but to me it’s just more gratifying knowing a piece is 100% you.That’s just my take on it.

So with that in mind I opened up “Tiny Planet”. I used it like twice before just goofing off and I have to admit watching it take an image that you took and creating a small roundish and odd form was exciting. It reminded me of maybe what it would be like going into a carnie show and playing some strange game that altered your world. The key for me is not just letting the program alter my image but let it be a starting point to stir my imagination and build upon what the program offered me. Like a wood carver finding a abandoned tree stump in the woods and looking at it to stimulate there imagination into seeing what could be made out of it.

So with “Tiny Planet” ready to go I knew I was also going to use an app to collage elements onto the planet and perhaps it’s surroundings. Unlike the way I normally approach an art piece I did not have a concept. I was going to let “Tiny Planets” outcome of my photograph to inspire my ideas or concept. More of a creating on the fly approach. It was  a nice change for me.

So what collage app to use? I have many on the iPad and have used most of them at one point. On this assignment it’s “Superimpose” that was going to be my culprit. The biggest downfall that I saw before getting started is I could only load one layer or image on top of my background image at a time. Other apps I have allows up to 20 and with a “Photoshop” background I am use to having no limits on how many layers I can use at one time, but I heard the brush on “Superimpose” was pretty sweet, so I thought I would give it a try. Now I have my two apps that am going to start with on this project. Keep in mind that these two apps could lead to more (and it did)  the unknown is the key here.

First I picked an image to run thru “Tiny Planets”. What I am looking for is an image that has similarity in the landscape on the left edge of the image as the right. As you can see below it is very consisted in content all across the image. This will give me a planet that will match up really well at its intersection.

So after running it thru “Tiny Planet” I have this to work with.

Not bad. The sphere looks pretty good. I love the spacing around it. Hmm the trees I do not like very much but am going to let that lead me into another direction. So yea, lets go with it.

So I guess many people might stop at this phase but I am using this app to inspire creativity not to make the image for me. Still dealing without a concept for my planet, the first thing that popped into my head was to add a single object on top of the planet. I work fairly simplistic using just what I need to carry the image into its meaning. The problem? It has no meaning yet. It is so different working this way after creating images with concepts and a direction before hand but that’s the main objective of my exercise. Letting the image guide me to its meaning.

So now to start adding some elements to the planet and see what happens.The first image or element that comes to mind is a tree I photographed just a few days before. A haunting tree that I found in the parking lot of Wal-Mart of all places. It would give my planet height and a center point of interest. So lets look at our tree before pulling it into “Superimpose” and masking it. What is masking you say? Its probably more of a “Photoshop” term but it simply means to erase. With a mask you can always add back parts of the image you erase. Not all collage apps have this ability and you have to hit the “back” button if you erase a part of the image you want to keep. I love a mask if I can have it. Is is much quicker and forgiving then hitting a back button and you can always add back parts of the image layer at any stage of your creation. OK here is my tree to work with…

For those who mask I know what you might be thinking. Couldn’t you have found a cleaner lined tree? I admit masking this will take longer but being new to the iPad and “Superimpose” I could use the practice plus I do love this tree. So I pulled the planet into “Superimpose” as my background image. So with the “Tiny Planet” image loaded as my background image next I pulled in my tree image into “Superimpose” as my foreground image as you see below. I then selected the brush and its ready to clean up. As we can see making the brush a soft one and the size will of course vary.

After a few minutes of taking away parts of the image to give the tree it’s clean lines we start getting a feel for our tree.

…and finally we have our basic cleaned up tree. I decided to just use the main branches for a starker look and took away a lot of the whimsical stuff.

Next I flattened the layers to run the image through two different apps. The first to add drama, I used “Noir”. Using it to give me a light direction and separation. Normally I would continue adding more elements before moving into another app but since you can only add 1 layer at a time with “Superimpose” I thought I would play with some lightning to see if that gives me a direction and feel for the image. There is no method to this madness as I am playing and learning.

Next I used “OldPhotoPro”. This app does downsize my image but I still decided to use it not for the old paper look as I dialed that out but for the smoothness it gives images and also I used it to give the image some warmth as my last step in a few minutes will be to paint with cold tones and I like that warm and cold contrast. I just love the way it treats my images. Maybe the makers can fix the downsizing issue. Anyway here is the effects of using “OldPhotoPro”.

After going through “OldPhotoPro” and looking at my image, I had an idea to add a few more elements to the image that began to give it a concept although in a subtle way. Thinking of the biblical garden “Eden” with its lush and new life and thinking of the evil presence that also existed and how that is true to the planet that I am on today. So the title came to me as “The Other Side of Eden”. To create the opposite of a lush garden and show the opposite by using a bare tree and a landscape that is dying and breaking apart.

So as I wanted, the series of apps are pushing me into a creative mode of thinking. It seems to be doing what I want. To stir my creativity and allow me to create a piece of art that was not pre-conceived. Back to the image I thought that if I was to add some roots coming from the tree and busting through the tiny planet it would cause some of the destruction that I wanted to portray. Before going further my thoughts on “Superimpose”? I like the feel of the masking brush but a HUGE issue unless I am missing something is the ability to work with more then one layer or image at a time. Layers of images need to be moved around as you go inside an image and with “Superimpose” you have to flatten the image before adding another layer. If am wrong please tell me but I don’t see a way around one layer workflow. As I can see this piece is going to require more elements then I previously thought. Do I still go with “Superimpose” working with one layer requirements and flattening or do I try another app that allows me to have multiple layers so I can move things around and fine tune stuff as I go? I made the choice to try another application. Why not? Its about exploring and letting the apps guide me through the journey. So looking at my app selections on my iPad I thought I would try “Photoforge 2″. It allowed the use of multiple layers and I knew this piece could benefit from that very soon as this planet will start to break apart in pieces. So I pulled my piece into “Photoforge 2″ and added some roots as you can see below The brush is slide to the right which is a hard edge brush. For that smooth transition into other elements you want to slide the bar to the left for a soft brush. Again the size of the brush will vary according to the area am cleaning up.

After finishing my initial root system, I wanted to try something else new in my work flow and that is to try a painting app to give the piece a mixed media look. So I moved it to “ArtStudio”. Here I wanted to play with the trees that circled the planet. You can see them as a upright forest in the original photograph. Instead of cloning them out I decided just to paint over them and see what this might lead to. It led me into painting not only the trees but into the background.

Also using the smudge tool to bring the illusion of the planet sliding away from its core. Smudging gives the image movement and impact, at least in this case. A stillness of the tree above just compliments the movement for me. For some reason I like the ring of blackness around the planet. Not sure why but I do. Onward.

Next with the planet having a destruction movement to it I wanted too add a piece of broken off planet and I also decided to add more of a root system to the bottom as my smudging took most of that away. Again using tree branches I go back into “Photoforge2″ and add the root system again and a piece of the original planet for the large falling boulder.

With the boulder and root system in place I knew I had to give the rock a fallen appearance and perhaps add a few smaller rocks. This meant smudging them again but before leaving “Photoforge2″ I thought of maybe adding a sign of life to this and so I added a bird that came from one of my images. After masking it I placed it up top and flattened my piece. Pulled it back into “Artstudio” I painted some smaller rocks and smudged all my fallen pieces to give it movement. For the final touches I sent it to “Snapseed” converted the image to black and white as I decided to have a colder look. Also I added a small border in “Snapseed” and we have that completed below.

Some resizing to make the planet smaller and which gave it a feeling of being alone with plenty of space and its complete.
To bring this to a end. What started as trying out 1 app to generate a creative challenge to myself (Tiny Planet) ended up with me learning or at least getting familiar with 3 new apps and also inspired me to start a new series called “Planets with Small Stories” and below are a few examples…

“The Arrival of Spring”


“The North Pole”

The lesson to be learned if any? Create challenges for yourself. For me it was working without a concept for a change and doing it with unfamiliar applications. It could be what you need to spark your creativity and it might even inspire a new piece or series.

Thanks and remember to
“Create and Destroy”
Until next time.

3 Comments

  1. Loved this – will definitely bookmark for a thorough study later!!!

  2. Nice one, Craig. Makes me want to redownload the app and give it another shot.

    • Thanks man. It can be a creative spark.