Rough Drafts

November 14, 2013


In the next drafts, I began to find placement for the elements and start blocking and distilling their character. Some of them have been made into flatter, more graphic shapes, with rich outlines and exaggerated shadows, and others have been stripped down to the qualities that define their essence.

In most cases, I’ve been experimenting with the effects tools in the layers panel:  drop shadows, inner glow, stroke, and even bevel and emboss have all been used on the plate, food, and owl. Other elements were treated with filters from the filter gallery such as posterize for the table and fennel, and colored pencil for the blue fish plate center cutout.

I also imposed paths to organize the “grid” on which the elements are living. Here’s what happening so far:

Cubist Fish Still Life_17

Next, I’ll be working on adding perspective paths to connect the owl to the rug. I’ll also work on treating the rug values to push back to ground. In addition, I’ll be working on the fish to further distill its form by using the fin elements and exaggerating the inherently two dimensional aspect of the scales. I’ll also fracture the table by working the monogram in the left portion of the frame into the right foreground, possibly spilling off the surface of the table. Finally, don’t think I’m done with the owl’s “cast shadow”…I’m just getting started!

November 10, 2013


Next, I’ve added a few more elements to the still life:  back wall posters, including one with a typographic element to be included in the final draft, as well as additional perspectives of the table and rug elements.

Cubist Fish Still Life_12

November 6, 2013


Ha ha! So once again…if you’re familiar with what’s been going on over in my Hyperrealism section, you’ll know never to believe what you see in the first pass…part of the creative process mixed with a steep learning curve! Nail-biting when it comes to worrying about deadlines, but gratifying when you know you have the power to change direction instead of getting stuck in a box.

This particular change came shortly after choosing the master painting which I would emulate, Juan Gris’ 1915 “Still Life With Checkered Tablecloth”. I realized it would be better to lay out a proper still life of my own to implement techniques and play on perspective as in Gris’ painting, rather than try to work those ideas into the flat presentation in my earlier drafts.

I set to work setting up a still life…which looks a little wonky due to the fish being frozen solid with a bent tail! But we get the idea and this is a photo of the template I’d be working with:

Cubist Still Life Reference Shot

So, my entire block of time on Tuesday (4-5 hrs while my son is in school), was spent photographing, selecting and importing new elements to work as the new layers of my Cubist Still Life. Time consuming when time is of the essence, but a much better direction I think.

So after a few hours, this is what I’m looking at so far….really just getting most of the main elements blocked in so I can then work on treating them and breaking them up into a logical way. Elements that still need to be added are the background Storm King poster (thanks to Professor Krikun for suggesting I add type to my work…and showing us some incredible designer profile short docs of Paula Scher and Milton Glaser). It didn’t hit me right away, but the Storm King poster might be perfect here. Also the owl will almost certainly get some sort of displacement treatment on the back wall, and working the chairs in could be interesting, unless the wood table becomes a more interesting pattern to play with. In this way I can bring the back wall to life in a way that the source photograph falls flat, while at the same time respecting the value structure of the actual photograph.

New rough draft (really just roughing in elements here, and some very early decisions on perspective lines – particularly the rug and table relationship):

Cubist Fish Still Life_09

Stay tuned!

November 3, 2013


Here I’ve added a few more elements (ideally I’d like to get a couple more options in there….a sectioned artichoke and/or sectioned and whole fennel bulbs have wonderful layered forms that I think lend themselves to a cubist still life). Playing with shadows, both inner and outer, in the FX panel here, as well as using the blur, sharpen, dodge and burn tools to soften edges and give a more painterly feel to some of the elements.

Cubist Fish Still Life_05

October 28, 2013


The first step is to add my main elements into layers. Here’s one shot of the blue plate; the fish has also been isolated and added, and next I’ll add the scallions, lemons, and artichokes, each on their own layers, duplicating as needed.

Cubism fish element Plate ElementsCubism Elements

Below I couldn’t resist just playing with breaking off a piece of the plate to see how I could streamline the process of fragmenting and making each fragment its own layer. It ends up being a lot of layers, but it’s nice to have more shapes to choose from rather than less!


In this case, by using either the polygon or magnetic lasso, I choose a fragment of the element (plate or fish) to make a selection. I then control clicked on the selection (with the lasso tool still selected) and choose “Layer Via Copy” which sends the fragment to a new, unnamed layer. I’ve then gotten into the habit of duplicating each of those element fragments and putting them into an “Original Elements” folder in the layers panel, so I can have multiple identical fragments with different treatments.

Cubist Fish Still Life_02Cubist Fish Still Life_03


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