Saturday 1.23.10

Nothing new to announce. The sun never shines here anymore.

Yesterday someone contacted me about how I make some of my pictures. They liked the grit and grain and painterly look of some of what I do. I do too. I know that for me, I am always in a constant effort of sorts to figure out how to make things look they way they do. I will often see an image or elements of an image that I would like to somehow recreate or use in something that I do. Once in a while I have actually contacted people and asked them if they could point me in a direction. I never expected anyone to just reveal their super secret secrets.

The fact is, I only have a basic plan. Sometimes I never see the image that I want until I see the image that I want. What? Yeah… I never really see it until I’ve messed with it one way or another enough to decide that I like what I am seeing. In the end, a lot of what I like looks somewhat similar to other things I have liked or created so in that sense, the style sort of stays the same. How I got there each time could be completely different. Sometimes with a lot of manipulation and sometimes with very little.

One way I could describe it would be to say it is like making some kind of food. You start with the basic ingredients, know how they should be prepared and then maybe you experiment with other ingredients for a better or more interesting taste. Once in a while you completely ruin it and have to start again. Sometimes you make the dish everyone is used to and loves. Sometimes you add something that you had not expected to work and discover a great new taste. Some times you just keep adding things until it is right, or right enough to pass for something edible.

In my attempts to get info directly from other people I have had mixed results. Some flat out tell me that it is none of my damn business. Others may point me in a direction. I do study a lot of images and gather bits and pieces of information from other people, tutorials and a lot of experimentation. There is never any magic button or filter that I use.

In response to someone asking me for information the other day I gave them this answer:

I use a lot of texture layers from time to time. Nothing is ever used “as is”, they are all things I use as a vehicle to get to another point. Sometimes I have an actual plan and sometimes I make happy mistakes. A lot of it is sort of “seasoned to taste.”

Texture layers are usually never at 100% opacity. I use different blending modes – sometimes I negative the layer and go back through the blending modes for a different look. Sometimes many are placed over others and perhaps they are blurred, faded, erased in places.

There are a couple of easy things to make this work sometimes. The second is brushing a background layer back into an “almost” masked out image… places where I did not quite get the hair masked right. I need to tutorialize that one but it is not a real hard deal.

The other easy thing to do with a texture layer: Start with an image. In a new layer drop in a textured background. Drag it to fill the frame. Crop the image at full frame. Change the blending mode on the texture layer… play with it, scroll through them to see what works. Perhaps soft light.

Ok, it kind of looks like what you want but you don’t like the texture on the model. Use your marquee tool to draw a loose line just inside the area of the model. Feather that line at something like 60 – 100. Hit ctl/I to reverse the selection. Gaussian blur that as high as you can go. This will remove the texture from that area and keep the color tones the same. You can also selectively erase the area (not just delete the area) by 50, 60, 70% or so.

Try some of that and see what happens.


Some of my models come from Craigslist. These are a pile of images taken of Amy in 2009. Many were used in the Studio Bondage book.

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