Before and After

By Erika Moen on January 5, 2013

Before and After
In my process post about creating the Jiz Lee portrait, I showed you guys how I totally ruined the image initially and then had Matthew come in and make it presentable. He has a great eye for colors, layout, and overall making an appealing picture.

I’ve once again roped him into making an appearance (of sorts) on my blog by breaking down exactly how he took on fixing that picture. If you’re into that kinda thing, here you go!

Hi, I’m Matthew. I made this picture better in about an hour, and this is how I did it. (All of this was in Photoshop).

-Firstly I had to reduce the file size; it was crushing our computers to work on it. Removing all of Erika’s superfluous layers and using the crop tool set to ‘delete’ rather than ‘hide’ I was able to get the image down to working size.

-Next step was to see what I liked about the picture and use it as a starting point. I enjoyed the reds of the banners and most of the line work.

-I started by separating out the background line work from the pattern. It’s a good pattern, but very detailed and distracting for an already busy picture. This took a bit of time, but can be summed up quickly; desaturate, tweak levels (so lines are black and background white), use channels to select line work, make new layer with selection, delete old layer, and then fix oddities by hand. (tip, if you have a layer like this [line work and transparent], add a thick stroke to the layer in a terrible color; it’ll blow up and show you any pixels/places where there is dirt or any noise that isn’t part of the line work, so you can delete that stuff out [remove stroke when done])

Interjection from Erika: He also replaced the original background paper with another from my collection. I keep my paper collection hung on the walls of our home studio, where Matthew works every day and I use when I’m not well enough to go to Periscope Studio. Normally I use these for actually collaging, but I’ve finally started to turn them digital to use in projects like this.
Home Studio --Click to Enlarge

-I decided that I didn’t like the border/window at this point, so deleted it and built a new one out of shapes (0 fill with strokes), to keep the file size low (shapes are vectored art; this is easy on your computer’s brain).

-Time to think about color. I liked royal blue to match the red; wanted to make Jiz pop out.

-Made background royal blue, added in new texture; reduced in opacity so it was still there but not distracting.

-Tweaked Jiz’s placements and stance; wanted them more up right, and taking up more space.

-Added white strokes to things to again help them pop; black line work over dark blue doesn’t appeal to me.

-Added gradients to the banners (20% opacity set to overlay [black and white gradients]) to give them some depth. In hind sight this should have been a lower opacity.

-Added a similar gradient to Jiz (bodies are naturally darker on the bottom and lighter on the top)

-And another gradient to the background to give it depth and a pseudo horizon.

-Picture’s almost done; brought in a texture overlay to replace Erika’s (her’s was too strong for my liking). Mine is a tiling image of water color paper roughly 50% grey, so when its set to overlay the whites and darks (that go over or under 50% grey) show up. I set this to maybe 30% opacity; just enough to give the picture natural noise.

-Final tweaks were done in curve editor; small tweaks until I was happy.

So yeah! That’s how he did it! Isn’t he the best? He’s the best.
Matt and Erika by Joshin Yamaha
(Photo by Joshin Yamaha from 2007)

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