Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cactus Shapes for Design




At the top, is the original photo I used of the nightblooming cactus. While its flowers are spectacular, the cactus is not that exciting from an artist's visual perspective. I needed to find a way to use it and make it more interesting in the process.
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I started with some simple cutouts of diamond and oval shapes. This is quite easy to do in Photoshop. Examples are in the top row above.
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Next, I took a triangular section and duplicated it, flipping it horizontally to create a mirror image. I combined the two and came up with the diamond and oval shapes you see in the next rows. The third, larger diamond in the center took things a further step. With it, I combined 4 triangles rather than 2; to create this more complex design. I could do the same with the ovals.
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It took me awhile to figue out how to make a triangular cutout with Photoshop's marquee tool. It will make rectangular or square cutouts, or circular or oval cutouts. To create a triangle, I took a square or rectangular cutout and used the paintbrush tool with a click in one corner and a shift click in the opposite corner to create a straight line from corner to corner. I then used the paint brush to block out one half of the square in a solid color. I then used the magic eraser to remove that half of the shape, leaving me with a triangle. One can then use the shape tool and drag the handles to adjust the shape to what is needed. Combine two or four triangles to create a diamond shape. Do the same with the ovals.
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On the bottom left, is a rectangular cutout. I duplicated it and created the square you see in the middle. I used this to create the background for this mandala. I took a field of 85% gray and superimposed this shape over it. I then reduced the opacity until the gray showed through to dull the color enough to serves as a background. I then blurred it a bit with Gaussian blur so that it wouldn't compete too much with the foreground.
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I will be using this same technique with other foliage sections for other mandala designs. You artists in the group could finds lots of uses for this approach.

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