Connor Meeds provides a well-written explanation of his impressive "Monster Project" for Design I class.
The first real project of Design I is called the Monster Project, and the objective is to essentially push a photograph of yourself as far as you can using Photoshop. As an already self-taught user of Photoshop, I wanted to convey a deeper, abstract message, to the best of my abilities.
Senior year is a time of academic closure before the real world; a time where years of hard work finally has rewarding payoffs, and this influenced me to create a picture representing the materialization of thought in its manipulation of our surroundings.
Using a simple scene of writing, I was able to illustrate the thought that occurs within ourselves with the extension of rock above my head. As it continuously builds, pieces of rock break off, leaving footprints of our academic path. Individual strands of thought can become very powerful as they lead the 21st century in the creation of groundbreaking technology and innovation, thus, I illuminate this through branching jungle vines with the power to elevate surrounding desks. I hope to send a message to those throughout their academic career that thoughts have the ability to supersede the classroom walls to an eventual point of immense, materialized, impact. Work your hardest, and things will always payoff.
Question 1: (4-5 sentences) What is going on in your “monster piece?” How did you get your idea? Did your idea change as you worked?
In my monster project, I transform a simple scene of writing - an internal fabrication of thoughts, into an abstract depiction of the internal through its materialization. I really wanted to convey learning's expanding characteristics through literal tampering of objects. Thus, my thoughts are portrayed as an almost paranormal-like rock form that appears to be constantly expanding to the point where pieces are breaking off as it becomes larger. The rock is unified with jungle vines, representing individual strands of thought, which branch out and grab my surroundings to express thought's elevated characteristics. At first, I wanted to portray my thoughts that centered around moving from Groton into a big city, however, I found that the portrayal of thought itself would be more abstract and unique as I went on. I initially created a double exposure picture, but I didn't think that was enough, so I expanded its black and white elements into a much more "crazy" work where many more things are going on.
Question 2: Explain how you made your piece. What images did you use? What demos/other research were needed to make this happen? What were the most challenging technical aspects? Which technical effects are the most successful?
Before creating my first attempt, I browsed the design website you shared to scavenge some artistic elements that stood out to me. This abstract photo manipulation really grabbed my attention as it seemed almost paranormal-like: http://www.photoshoplady.com/photoshop-tutorial/create-unique-abstract-photo-manipulation/. However, I wanted to expand on this abstract depiction of the mind further than the tutorial's combination of it with city images. I harnessed the material on this guide to find the perfect rock photo. It offered the same wide view shot of a side of rock, and I cut out a piece which I thought looked best. I took around 30 photos of myself to fit the character of this scene. I found that the action of writing on a desk was a scene that surrounded my daily life as well as fitting the quality of invoking thought. To offer the gravity-breaking effect, I decided to take multiple pictures of the same desk from different angles.
The other main image I used was a picture of vines:
http://img01.deviantart.net/821f/i/2014/269/f/c/vines_flowers_growing_on_a_wall_stock_photo_2__png_by_annamae22-d80mkeu.png. I had to carefully cut out portions of these vines and warp them around the rocks in a realistic way and expand them to grasp onto the multiple desks around me. This was definitely the most challenging aspect of my work because it took careful consideration of which vines to use and careful warping of them without unrealistically modifying them. Another challenging part of my work was the necessity to add some brush spots for added effect. I believe I did a decent job, but it was challenging to find/make realistic brush patterns to accommodate for the style of my work. Plus, my white sweatshirt is not the best partner for grey brush marks - I should have wore a darker shirt to blend them better. In regards to what I was most successful with, I enjoyed adding multiple levels, curves, and black/white layer filters, and I like how they look. I made good use of clipping masks to remove the black/white filter on my face to add a sparkling effect, and also to apply a dim yellow color around the edges of the rock for color depth. Though I've never used the crystallization filter, I discovered it through the online tutorial and I really like how it blurs portions of the image to create a surreal scene, especially when layered over the clouds in the background. Overall, I loved every second of this project and can't wait to create more unique projects.