Saturday, December 12, 2009


What better day than a rainy day to cozy up in the studio to keep working on a long-time pixel project. Okay, this time it is my Couch Studio, because a lot of my work is done on my MacBook Pro, messing with pixels on the screen after the initial digital photo capture of my subject matter. While I love photography, I also love painting...and have found a way to meld the two.

Pixel Painting! It’s pretty simple in Photoshop: just blow up the image until you can see everything, and I do mean everything (the stitches in the lace of the flower’s undies). Then set your Photoshop tool to the smudge, grab some pixels and play.

It takes a bit of finesse, especially if you work with a track pad as I do instead of a mouse. Not only do I find it more portable, but feel like I have more control with the track pad, and perhaps that’s how I just trained myself to work. Knuckle down to a Master Diameter on your brush of 19 pixels or less, and have a go. I usually work at 5 or 9 pixels, but often go down to 3 when I don’t want to lose detail. Can the viewer see it later? I don’t know. But I can and want to make this as pixel perfect for myself as possible.

I’m finding that a combination of “straight shot” and pixel painting achieves what I am looking to produce now, which is sort of a hybrid of the detail of photography blended with the passion that illustration communicates.

The first image above is a sample of what I am talking about. This is just a cropped close up of a piece I am working on now, and not yet finished, but it reveals the areas that have been pixel-painted, and the raw areas. What I am wrestling with now is the issue of taking a several week break from working on this; I find that as I come back from such a hiatus, my style has altered a little bit. In this case, what I am doing today is finer, with smaller brush diameters and more careful rendering, resulting in a more representational look than the bigger, cluddier painting. What amazes me in any case is that the leaves, when painted like this look like clay, don’t they? Is that weird or what, that pixel art can look so much like clay.

I’ve also used this technique to build or patch areas in the images that never were there at all. An example is on the poppy picture (Sonrisa Linda) posted previously, as originally some of the stems were short of the edge of the image. I used the technique (also involving use of the clone tool) to build new stem areas and to further the water effect.

My other sample here is composed using a small snatch of another larger image I did that had a dragonfly wing in it. I liked the dragonfly wing enough that I multiplied that part of the image a number of times and then pixel painted a bunch so it didn’t look like just a step-and-repeat. Note: the dragonfly had already expired by the time my brother found him and gave him to me. I can't kill anything to make art with it! Once I caught a ladybug thinking I would "use" her, but after only a few minutes of watching her walk in circles in the jar, I just had to let her go. Real life is better than pixels and cloning, don't ya think?


At 4:32 PM , Anonymous Megan said...

LOVE both of these pieces! I know I'm behind the times when it comes to technology, but isn't it kind of odd that this is "painting" when there are no brushes, paints, or mess involved? Doesn't matter though, it's the final piece that matters, and these MATTER. How do I subscribe to this blog?

At 5:01 PM , Blogger gardenpoet said...

Thank you! To subscribe (follow) the blog, just go to the top of the page and click on FOLLOW upper left. That will take you to a dialogue box so you can put in your choices.


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