“All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.”
― Oscar Wilde
At least once a month I get asked by someone how I create my pictures and what process I use. I usually explain that it is all done digitally in Photoshop with a combination of stock photos and some really great filters and some brushwork. I wonder if explaining even close to a step by step would be interesting but still people ask.
Tonight I’ll pull back the curtain a bit and do a kind of step by step of how the picture below was made.
I enjoy playing with fractals. At the very least a fractal can be played with and maneuvered into an eye pleasing mandala and occasionally I get some inspiration.
Tonight I started with the fractal creation program Chaotica HD and started playing with colour and pattern…When I ended up with something I liked, I pulled it into Photoshop and doubled it upon itself (Took one half and reversed it so that the result was symmetrical). I then played with colour a bit more.
At that point I knew this was not going to be a mandala but had no idea what it wanted to be. I copied the layer, took the layer and made it into a 3D ring and then angled it blending it with a screen. I then copied that layer several times, angling the rings in different ways and blending them together until I had the shadows of two rings each including the whole background.
I brought in a cat head and started blending it in before I stopped because that wasnt what it was… A face within the fractal, a woman?
I started looking through my collection of photos and found one of a woman on a cross. This seemed to fit somehow with the stormy nature of the fractal… I removed her from the background and played around with the colours a bit… Doubling the layer than inversing the colour then playing with different blend modes until she shone with that red blue combination and was just veiled enough that people may question whether it was a woman or a man.
I played around with the blending… and then wanted some more texture in the background. I have this great add-in Postworkshop 64 that adds all kinds of paint effects and I found one that worked, adding the texture and giving it much more of a windswept effect.
After that it was just a matter of listening to what needed to be in. The butterfly, the figure watching both needed to be there. At this point i was pretty open and engaging in dialogue with the picture… I knew a child needed to be in. The picture was about ongoing life not death and resurrection even the figure on the cross (and why it had to be a woman) was about sacrificing the self to the self akin to the Hanged Man in the tarot. I needed something to represent the child. Thinking in terms of Thelemic themes, it had to be Horus…and somewhat akin to the Aeon card in the Thoth tarot, i wanted him to convey the idea of silence (the finger held up). So I found an appropriate picture of a child and blended in the Hawk’s head…and added a slight corona. I then stylized in the symbol for the scarlet woman, Babylon on the woman.
I then liked the picture overall so added an oil painting filter over it… and blended that in with the bottom layer and the picture was finished.
Hmmm I don’t know that I’ll be asked this question again soon. Thanks for your patience in reading it.
Click on images to see full-sized: