Digital Art

Sample Creative Process

A fresh mackerel is placed right on the glass of a flatbed scanner.

I don't use sheets of acetate or any other intermediate materials as this interferes with the scan.

Some people are surprised at my apparent lack of consideration for the equipment, yet consider that glass is inert and non-porous, and there is no difference between the glass on the scanner and glass on your bathroom mirror. As long as no fish juices or other liquids run down into the scanner at the perimeter where the glass meets the plastic, a quick wipe is all the clean-up that is necessary. For the last 9 years I have used a Umax S-6E to scan everything from raw fish to broken glass, and it's still going strong.


Click images for enlargement.


The image is cropped and slightly sharpened. The colours are wonderful, a full range of silvery greys tinted with pink and drammatically accented with charcoal and burgundy red.


A distortion filter is used. The images as a whole is rather unapealing but details are promising. A small portion of the image is selected and copied to a new file.


The fragment is enlarged by Nearest Neighbour method, which gives the chunky texture. Nothing particularly appealing yet.


The image is copied to another layer. The light grey portion is selected and deleted. The remaining pixels are stretched and warped using the Transform/Distort tool. At this point I remember feeling rather unenthusiastic about the process and almost scrap the file, but decide to keep going.


The above layer was duplicated and manipulated using the Distort/Wave tool. The canvass was enlarged to show the whole of the image. The torn texture, vivid colours, and dramatic movement is promising.


Because the ripped and torn form in step 6 has transparent areas, it needs a background. I duplicate the layer from step 4. and run Blur distortion filter. The amount of blurring is a strictly subjective thing, just like everything else about the process. I blurred the image just enough to completely get rid of the choppy texture, and this created an image that still held distinct the different colour areas. Almost looks like the waves coming ashore of a very shallow water beach, where the water and dry sand are lightgrey/pink or charcoal, and the wet sand is burgundy.


The soft blurred texture in the image above is at odds with the anxious colours, causing the eye to search for detail. I decide to accentuate this by placing the torm form from step 6 on top. But when the two images are layered, the image becomes too busy. The top layer covers too much of the soft, swimmy background, so I cut it away in chunks. The form of the tongue/ribbon emerged.


At this point I'm still not sure about the image. The colours are much more sombre than what I usually work with, and I regard the achievement of a field of depth by such obvious means as cheap. The silvery greys of the original scan aren't really present, and the image is rather violent and unsettling. So I go away and make and eat dinner. A crucial part of the process, as I find out, because when I come back to the computer, I love the image. I tweak the colours and save all the files and call the image Mackerel, just like the scan.