03 July 2007
the finger in the computer Part A.
As promised, i've tried to come up with a part 1 of 3 in this 'finger in the computer' series that i have wrapped around in my head.
First... being as shy as I am, this is a disclaimer that i haven't really verbalized or typed in this case, my most recent design aesthetic... but i did want to take the time to sit down and type it out to explain why I use it, and perhaps broadly why I feel it is used (and abused) so heavily right now. With that in mind.. let's get to it.. and if you aren't along for this ride, go ahead and skip this post... it is going to be a book ;)
This design that i'm showing for part 1 is a piece i did two years ago. It sucks because the original idea came from a sketch I did but in the process of moving from the old mk12 building to here, I lost the original sketch. But it's important to say that this idea was based in pencil before it ever touched the computer. So in theory - I drew a heart with one of my characters faces inside of it, puking out clouds. My first initial reaction was to go into illustrator and create a clean version of this idea as a base, and if well executed perhaps as the final product.
The first step i wanted to take was bring a real life element into the piece by using a photograph. That way I was somewhat accurate with my heart, and it was a good base to build from. I went to google, typed in heart, and you can figure out the rest. Copy + Paste, got it into illustrator and begin to get the base shapes and form down. After getting all of the details that I wanted out of the heart, I began to lay in my character and get the spewing of the clouds out.
Next i think rather then going through a full process is the explanation of getting from point A to b in more of a conceptual stages, rather then linear process oriented directions. After getting the image pretty satisfactory in illustrator, i realized that it was too 'clean' for me. It didn't have the same affect that my sketch did to me. In order to get there, i felt that photoshop would lend itself to giving me a more hands on direction.
I brought the image in, and chipped away all of the beautiful, clean, solid filled vectors i just created, and just like using the original found image as a base, I used my .ai file as a base to get closer to m concept. I began creating torn edges, and changed my clean 'hand drawn' arrows from illustrator into hand drawn arrows in photoshop. They still weren't exactly hand drawn arrows that were scanned in, but it was close enough to the filling that i was ok with it. After bringing back the original image at this point, i was able to use its color and trace it in photoshop, so that it felt really hand drawn.
Anything to break a solid color or line to me makes it feel more rough. So i took the fat outline that surrounded the piece and erased it with a watercolor brush. I didn't have the vast library of watercolor brushes as I do now, but I like to scan in actual watercolor brushes and use their alpha to create custom brushes. It's the easiest way to get close to the hand in the computer as you can get. It is still digital and manipulate but, you are creating visuals that represent how one would go about creating this as if it were a painting, etching, or printmaking process.
After I got it looking more rough, and grungy, I wanted to bring back elements from the photograph that showed it was a schoolroom model of a heart. I emphasized the hinges, and then wrote numbers on the colors spewing from his mouth and on the cloud as if it was a color by number set.
It was done... it was as close to my original intention of my sketch, but still went beyond it and created more of a tactile image. The last touch that wasn't 100% necessary was adding a fabric texture as a blending layer on top of some of the colored sections. I thought this saturated and textured the meat of the image to give it that collage feeling.
I think through this short process I was trying to explain how the beautiful clean version and the grungy-rough version speak in two different ways. The original finished illustrator document is primary and clean which gives it a light hearted and cartoony feel, since its a really contrasty image, especially with a bold thick outline. While the final image result gives a more tactile, processed image that feels like it has depth, character, and surreal. To me it lacks the smiley-go-happy-pretty-huggable feeling that the vector image portrays, and is able to live in an aesthetic that is unique rather then solid fills and outlines.
While i don't think anything or everything has to go through this process, i'm just trying to give insight to my thinking process and why i feel images are able to go beyond straight forwards imagery. I think that straight forward imagery works in lots of situations but when translating from someone who draws constantly on everything around me, to trying to sketch in the computer, i often run into the feeling of being distant and lack the ability to physically control my digital medium. Being able to use my wacom tablet, scanner, and a digital camera if needed (or the internets) I feel i'm able to bring my hand back into the computer, and bring my digital sketches closer to me.
I have a few more different examples of my process of degrading images in the computer that i think will drive home the point more than a personal sketch, but we'll see.. comments are welcome, and thanks for staying to the end, and reading through my babel / rant - i was never good with words, thats why there are lots of images :)