Friday, 28 June 2013


These pieces are an offshoot of the Photoshop lessons. 

I took photographs on my digital camera of my boxes full of collage stuff and loaded them onto my computer.  From Camera Raw, I made vignettes of the images and used filters to try and create images that look more like printed images than photographic ones. 

Some work better than others right away.  Some images were too cluttered or too dark; some photos reacted better to the application of artistic filters than others.  Sometimes the filters drop out sections of the images without apparent reason – there are no layers to style.

These are my favourites.

Vignette #7

Vignette #10

Vignette #11

Vignette #14

Monday, 3 June 2013

First digital collages

In January 2012, I finally began my lessons in Photoshop in earnest.  It seemed like a long delay before I was really able to start using the tools to begin making collages digitally.  I had also ordered my own Epson 9900 printer and a new 17” Macbook in the October but the printer, which I had been told would take a few days, turned out to take almost 3 months to arrive.  I was also supposed to receive a $1000 rebate but didn’t.  Avoid Unisource Canada if possible.

Once the printer arrived, I needed to have the computer calibrated to the printer and fortunately had the help of Barb Reimer who is the photo tech for the Art Dept. at the University of Saskatchewan.  She did the calibrations and gave me my first lessons on how to use the printer.  I was anxious to see the collages I had scanned in print so spent quite a bit of time printing many of the 54 handmade collages I had adapted to prints.  I originally used Epson Ultrasmooth Fine Art paper but found it too smooth.  I switched to the Epson Somerset Velvet, which had a surface more like traditional printmaking papers, and found I liked it much better.  The results were great at least from a print standpoint – a surface like rag paper and the color, as the Epson technician had assured me, was magnificent.

Before I could even print the first collages I’d scanned I had to clean up the decaled edges on Photoshop so had to learn how to use it.  I had never used Photoshop before in my life.  Jeff Smith and I had discussed how to proceed earlier and decided to bring 2 Masters students in computing science – one to teach me how to use Photoshop and one to develop new applications.  My Photoshop instructor has been Aryan Zahoorian and Faham Negini has been busy designing a special application for this project (more on Faham at a later date).  Aryan has been a great Photoshop teacher, showing great patience with a fairly thick student. 

My first attempts at creating collages digitally were not very good but I got better after a few attempts.  It struck me that I needed source material to make collages like the ones I’d been making by hand in order to learn Photoshop.  Looking for online images seemed too slow for now and the images, for the most part, were all small jpgs.   I realized that I could use all of the files I’d just created from the scanned collages as an archive from which to create new digital collages that were similar in certain respects to the collages I’d been making.  At one point, I realized I knew enough Photoshop to select, cut, and paste in layers – the same process as hand made collages. 

Digital Collage #12

Digital Collage #17

Digital Collage #22

Digital Collage #26

Digital collage #36

Digital Collage #30

Digital Collage #33

Digital Collage #37

Digital Collage #36
I discovered very quickly, though, that I had way more options using Photoshop in constructing the collages.  I could, first of all, change the scale of any selected piece; I could easily slide layers in underneath existing layers; I could drop out white or even colored backgrounds; and I could employ layers effects and transparencies.  It made a huge difference and I already like the new digital collages more than my original handmade ones.  These felt more like the prints I wanted to make 20 years ago.