This is a culmination of my too many interests. It's is an in-between place. It's more focused than my Myspace blog, but less so than my author blog. Here you can find artwork, photography, writing, poetry, book covers, manga and pointless videos. All of these things mesh together to become a reflection of their creator in an in-between place colored like shadows and flavored like frappuccinos and chocolate. It's one heck of a world.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two Poems



poetry


Two poems tonight, and then i am off to go have some dinner and get to bed. *yawn*

First, this week's Summer Jam has the theme back to school, which I thought was brilliant. If you haven't been there yet, then you should stop in. There's a lot of fun going on!

I'll preface this with the same thing I did on the blog:

Over all, I liked school, though I had a brief falling out with it towards the end of high school when I realized that it didn't matter what I did, I'd still be "good old Jo who can draw".  The last two thirds of my Junior year we all went a little haywire and started drinking and running around and skipping school - and the sad thing is that no one seemed to notice except my art teacher. (He was awesome). At one point I got into a screaming fight in the lunch room in front of the principle and other teachers (it was with my best friend of the time, we also parted ways that year for awhile over something else) and we were shouting obscenities and everything and only the art teacher did anything - and all he did was walk over and suggest we might not want our dirty laundry aired in front of everyone, to which I replied that I had nothing to hide, it was all hers, then he said okay and left. There weren't even any repercussion - nothing. It was like not existing. Very strange. The closest we came to any kind of cause/effect that year was that we lost our credits for missing too many days in a semester and had to go talk to a panel of teachers to get them back, but they gave them back because we showed up.

Anyway, that kind of puts you in the right frame of mind for this one.

Like Something Golden

A new year begins like something golden
The halls shimmer with the scent of expectation
Until it becomes a flavor,
Honey sugar melting on your tongue
A cough drop of hope that melts on your tongue
As you file through the doors and take your place
Among the same old friends
The new kids walk past, uncertain and confused
And for a moment your whole life could change
Could one of them make a difference?
Become that friend or enemy that
Can define a person’s whole existence?
But they won’t as they move on to other faces
Other people who are infinitely more than you
And you’re left with just the same old friends
And same old name
And same old place
Within the fabric of this world,
A locked cage that you cannot escape
Because for all the expectation,
No one can ever see past what they want
To notice there is something else beneath
The same old, same old cliché they’ve known for years
But, you have yet to learn this fact,
This irrefutable law of life’s geometry,
And so for you the day still holds
The citrus yellow taste of hope
And the unrealized expectation of something ready to dawn
Just over the horizon
Like something golden.



And then, there's a simple sunday art challenge going on over at the CPC, and the picture this week was so awesome that i had to drop a few lines there too. The art is by Lee Jones and all I can say is WOW! His art is seriously awesome!


Late Summer Fair

View All Photos | LEE JONES ARTIST


The last of summer wanes on the breeze
The sounds of the fair
drift through the air
Like something so alive

The thought of who’ll be there weakens your knees
Take time and dress
Designed to impress
A look of innocence contrived

Look out the window where he waits
So expectantly
Gentlemanly,
Yet in his eyes, impatience

Together you pass through garden gate
And down the road
Where dreams unfold
To the fairgrounds adjacent

And there surrounded by the colored swirls
And sounds of glee
He drops to his knee
And offers you a silver ring

So you feign surprise, as do all girls
And then you take
Offering he makes
And promise forever for to cling

Congratulations make their usual rounds
As twilight fades
To evening shade
And home at last he leads your way

A last fragile kiss in the garden grounds
Then up the stairs
And you comb your hair
Save the daisy for your wedding day.



And I am outta here. check the links and have fun!

song playing at the moment - "Mistress" - Disturbed

King of Beasts Art Contest

artwork


This was done for an art contest on Art's web show blog. Click the link to see the other entries, or to join in the fun yourself. No, there's no prize for the winner, except for the rights to say "Hey, I won, coz I'm cool." But who needs prizes?

lion

This is drawn from an image provided by http://Pablohoney2980...deviantart.com.

It's an awesome photo and I don't know If I did it justice, but oh well. It gave me an excuse to drag out my pencils. I hadn't even opened the drawing pencils since I bought them. Yeesh. The perils of computer art, I guess. Though pencil never scans off very well. At least I don't think it does; too many visible pencil strokes. but some people like that look, I guess.

And yes, that's what I did today. I took a forced day off from my email and all the other work I have to do because it occurred to me that everyone else in the world gets a weekend, and shouldn't I have a sort of one sometimes? Of course, I can't do it right, as I am off to go post a poem in a moment or two at the Summer Jam blog as well as having done this and a stack of line drawings for later coloring ;) But, I guess it's a start.

Go check out that contest.

Song playing at the moment - "The Night" - Disturbed

(new album coming out from these bad boys in a couple days. whoo-hoo! I loves me some David Draiman!)


(photo from wikipedia)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer's Gone - Random Photos



photos

These are from my “Summer’s Gone” set.

autumn

petals are gone

sunset plant

kinda cool

prickly seeds

spikey

seed

cool

sunst moon





Song playing at the moment - "Down with the Sickness" - Disturbed

A silly poem

poetry


Originally written for Blogophila

The Twilight Zone Piece

You’re driving me crazy
What did I do?


N-O-T-H-I-N-G

Now I’m dancing with tears in my eyes
Ignoring the reaction from the crazy glue

C-R-A-Z-Y

You filled my shoes full
And now I have a rash

I-T-C-H-Y

Just because I time traveled
Into the century before last

T-W-O H-U-N-D-R-E-D

And hooked up with your great-great-
What’s-it-to-you?

G-R-A-N-D-F-A-T-H-E-R?

You know it wasn’t really cheating, baby,
Coz he reminded me of you.

G-E-N-E-T-I-C-S

Just Another Secret - spiffy Old Flash Fiction

old stuff

It’s time again for the blog where I post something you may not have enjoyed before. I know I’ve missed posting these lately, but I’m hoping to get back on track. If you’re interested in older editions, I do have a spiffy Table of Contents.

Since it’s been awhile, I consulted the mystical magic, um, crystals, and they  said I should post a…..
flash fiction

I don’t remember when this is from. I know it was originally written for a blog game where they gave you a starting sentence and you had to write a 500 word story.  That was a lot of fun, though it disappeared a long time ago.

Just Another Secret


Keeping secrets for other people can be a dangerous business that leads to heart ache and misery. You might think it's an innocent secret, you might think it can't possibly hurt anyone – but sometimes you can be wrong.

It was a year ago when I saw him at the grocery store talking to Linda, the check out girl. He caught up with me in the rainy parking lot and asked me not mention it to anyone. He'd lied about being sick to get out of a dinner party his wife, Barbara, was keen on going to. He couldn’t stand some of her friends, after all. What harm is there in that?

The suicide note clutched between my fingers screams out the damage done. Tonight, of all the nights, Barbara finally found out where he really was. But, it wasn’t as innocent as I thought, and no one was as surprised as Barbara when Linda called and announced she was pregnant with his child.

Their affair started that rainy night. He'd chatted with her at the checkout line, cast a joke in her direction, and she'd taken the bait. They'd met after her shift for the first time in a flea-bitten motel room while I'd gone home and had a cup of tea and his wife had smiled and chatted at her dinner party. He'd betrayed her while she told stories about how dashing he was.

Barbara clutched the phone with shaking hands, and I looked up from my pasta with too much concern. Tears filled her eyes and smeared the world into a melting kaleidoscope; one where my friendly worry was not longer important.  She looked through the watery haze to her husband, who sat with a fork halfway to his mouth, spaghetti hanging off like an unfinished sentence.

She went insane when she hung up from Linda, if you can call the phone thrown to the floor hanging up. A purple vase soon joined it, and then a pot.  She hurled razor sharp abuses at him like she hurled their possessions, and all the while her eyes demanded, “How could you?”

And I ran. I pushed my plate away, mumbled some excuse and I dashed to my car. The safety of my house was welcome, and I hid behind the walls with my knowledge. How could I have told her that I’d seen it all begin? Something so innocent that I’d never bothered to mention it, not even to my sister.

 But guilt gnawed at me with pointed teeth and so I came back, only to discover this scene. The body sways on the end of the rope, turning in slow circles, a mocking dance, and the note left behind says simply "I'm sorry." But she isn't here to read it; she's left and taken her suitcase of belongings with her, leaving him alone.

The swaying shadow flickers across the wall as he turns slowly, lifeless face gazing at me, whispering to my imagination. "Don't tell,” he seems to say, asking me to keep another secret.

***********

Wasn’t that spiffy?

Song playing at the moment - “Ball and Chain” - Social Distortion

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Knowledge is Shiny

This was written for Blogophilia - a blog game on MySpace, but it;s sort of fun, so I am cross posting it. 

***************

It’s a man’s world and the world’s a man.”

Sophie blinked at her grandmother and managed to say, “Eh?”

Quitters never lose and losers never quit,” the old woman tried again, then belched softly. “Where’s that bottle?”

Sophie shook her head and stepped over the pile of accumulated junk next to granny’s couch. The old woman was “off again”, as her mother would say. She’d no doubt finished off the whole bottle of seltzer water, and now wanted to share the wisdom it inspired.  Though how bubbly water could inspire anyone was a subject for debate.

“You drank it all, Granny,” she said gently, and held up the empty bottle from the end table. “See?”

“Oh, drat.” Granny sighed and looked down at Sophie’s feet. “New shoes?” she asked conversationally.

Sophie relaxed and moved to the nearby armchair, where she dislodged a fat orange tom cat, then took a seat. “Yes. Mom bought them.”

“What ever for?” Granny demanded. “What are you going to do with shoes that shiny? They're shining shoes, those are.”

Sophie rolled her eyes laboriously. “They’re special shoes, Granny. For special occasions.”

The old woman looked momentarily confused. “what’s so special about this occasion? There’s just you me and my shadow here. No one to impress.” She looked suddenly alarmed. “Is there?”

“Mom’s in the kitchen?” Sophie suggested. “And we have to go to the special ceremony tonight-”

Granny didn’t seem to care about the rest of her story, as she bounded up from the couch. “Blood and tar! What’s she doing in my kitchen? She’d best not be-“

“Cleaning.”

 Granny swore loudly, and then shambled towards the sound of running water and scrubbed pans. “Delores!” she shouted. “Don’t you dare touch that pan on the back of the stove!”

Granny disappeared into the kitchen, followed by what sounded like an avalanche of tin and aluminum. Delores replied coolly, “I was too afraid to touch it, so I threw it out!” Then, Granny swore again and banged a pot down.

Sophie leaned back in the armchair and listened to the sounds of their weekly argument.  Finally, Granny stormed back into the living room and took up her place on the couch, all her seltzer water wisdom gone and replaced with red rimmed fury.

“That mother of yours!” she declared as she snatched up her knitting. “Do you know, that’s the tenth batch she’s ruined? The tenth! As if Boysenberries picked in a graveyard under a full moon just grow on trees!”

Sophie started to suggest that they grew on bushes, but thought better of it. Instead, she concentrated on her swinging feet.  Just as Granny said, those shoes were shiny, and they reflected the world back to Sophie, though in a skewed, distorted way that made it all somehow amusing.

“You just wait,” the old woman threatened. “When I discover the secret to the universe, you can rest assured I won’t share it with her!”

Sophie nodded along without looking up. She didn’t say it, but they already knew the secret of the universe. That was the first thing they learned in witch training these days.  The second was how to trap a familiar into shiny surfaces, and the third was that Boysenberries never made good draughts of “all Knowingness”.  Someday, she was going to tell Granny that, but in the meantime she swung her legs and watched the face smiling back at her from her shoes.


***************

I dunno. Call it an off the cuff and blame Terry Pratchet.


And for the segment I like to call Random Things from my hard Drives, please enjoy a sideways….

video2

I got a Motorola droid, finally, and had to play with it. One of the apps films and uploads straight to YouTube. This should help explain the pointless crap on the internet: because they make it so easy any idiot can do it!

Oh, and, yeah, it’s sideways because I held the phone vertical, not horizontal. Lesson learned.





song Playing at the moment - "Tapestry"- Don McLean

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Postcards from Bilbo - Volume 5


postcards from bilbo



Hello! Bilbo the Amazing Pencil Guy here. Yes, the Amazing is my real middle name. Ask my mother. Anyway, I, Bilbo, have left my home down south and traveled north in search of adventure and excitement. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my home, because I did, but I just needed to spread my wings and seek out the wonders of the universe. And so, here I am, in southern Missouri, but I don’t want my friends back home to get lonely, so I am sending them postcards….

July 25th

postcard21

Hello! I have just got back from an exciting day trip to Bolivar (That town that is spelled different than it sounds). We went on a walking tour of the old downtown. They have some very interesting buildings there, and they seem to keep them very nice. I wonder if there are any apartments for rent there? i think it would be fun to live above a store like that!
Hope all is well with you!
Until next time,
Bilbo



July 30th

postcard22

Rainy day greetings from Missouri! it's been raining her for a couple of days, but I refuse to let it get my spirits down! Besides, it stops long enough for there to be a rainbow, and who can be down when there's a rainbow to look at? I hope you are all enjoying your share of rainbows too!
Your friend,
Bilbo



August 2nd

postcard23

Hello, friend! There is some sort of "green" convention going on around here. Yan and I thought that it meant we should dress in green, but the piggy (I haven't mentioned him before, but he's quite wise) explained that it has something to do with global warming. I did not know there were green global worms, but I think you had best watch out for them, as I don't know what they eat.
Must go,
your friend,
Bilbo



August 9th

postcard24

Hello! We just got in, and it is quite late. We had an exciting night out on the town and enjoyed some very fine entertainment. I only wish you could all be here with me, but I know that you are having your own fun and adventures!
It's late, so I had better go, but I did want to drop you a line!
ta!
Bilbo

August 13th

postcard 25

Hello friends! How are you? I've been learning to paint, and I think I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself. Though it is a bit hard to hold the spray nozzle down and aim it at the same time, but I am learning! I feel very artistic, and I have to say I am quite proud! Hope you are all feeling artistic too!
Your dear friend,
Bilbo


Monday, August 16, 2010

Basic Photo Editing - a LONG tutorial using Paint Shop Pro

I'm going to share some simple photo editing how to’s instead. This is using Paint Shop Pro 12, which has dropped dramatically in both price and new features since Corel bought it out from Jasc. (http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite/us/en/Content/1150905725000 ) I use PSP for this because PSP is what I know how to use, and also what I happen to own. I’m sure that GIMP or photoshop or any other program has the same tools/effects.

There are photography purists out there who say that your photo should be perfect when you take it. I am not one of these people. I am a point, click, fix it later photographer. For the twenty photos you see I’ve taken twenty that never leave my hard drive because they were not so good. This is probably a symptom of the digital age. I never did large amounts of artistic photography with a film camera, and so I’ve never been limited to what I could get using it. Besides, I see no need to limit yourself anyway, not when you don’t have to.

If you would like to use the original photos provided here to practice effects on, etc, by all means go for it – that’s what they’re here for!



CROPPING & SMART PHOTO FIX


The most basic of all photo editing is, or course, cropping. This is when you cut – or crop – your image down to concentrate on a smaller portion of it. Sometimes it’s to get rid of elements you don’t want, like a street sign or your nephew making faces in the corner of the photo, and sometimes it’s just to draw more attention to your subject. Either way, it’s very easy.

First you want to open you photo – either drag and drop it into PSP or else go to file/open. Here’s my original photo

lotsofpetalsorig

The crop tool is on the toolbar. Click it and you will get a box with “nodes” or dots at the four corners plastered in the middle of your picture. There is also a drop down box that has preset crop sizes in it. You can use it if you want a predetermined size, but if you want to hand crop it you can do so by grabbing the nodes and dragging them.

lotsofpetalscrop

The “shaded” part on the outside of the box is what is going to be cut off and what is inside is what you’ll be left with. Once you have it the way you want go to your tool pallet (you can turn this on and off by right clicking on the toolbar and going to pallets) and click apply

lotsofpetalscrop2

I admit, I didn't crop mine too much, but oh well, you get the idea. The other, simple photo enhancing tool in PSP is the smart photo fix, which is the second selection under Adjust

lotsofpetals-smartphotofixone

NOTE – there is a one click photo fix but I find it pretty much worthless.

Clicking the smart photo fix will open a new box that has a lot of sliders on it – but don’t worry, it’s not as confusing as it looks.

lotsofpetals-smartphotofix3

Yes, there are a lot of arrows because I want to call your attention to several things. Let’s start at the top. You can see there is a check box next to the words “Preview on image”. If your computer can handle it (you’ll know if it doesn’t like it because it will lag and possibly turn your screen white for a moment or two) then click the box. If you then scoot the box over so that you can see as much of the image as possible, you will be able to get a better idea of what effects you’re really having, as the thumbnail view can only do so much. (see the image to the left?).

Now, for the sliders. They are actually pretty self explanatory – drag the top three sliders back and forth to make the various components lighter or darker – overall does the whole image, shadows applies the darkening or lightening effect just to the dark areas and highlights to the lightest (for instance if you have a high amount of flash reflection you would want to turn the highlights towards darker to take some of it out). The bottom two sliders make the image more or less colorful (be careful, the more colorful sounds great but it can make your eyes bleed easily!) and can also sharpen the image (which can cause some distortion if you crank it too high). Newbies – myself included – tend to go crazy with these two and make the images far too sharp and too bright, LOL! As for the stuff on the right side – well, that’s all more advanced things that we might cover if I ever do another one of these :p

So, you moved the sliders, it looks bad, you’re at wit’s end… then press the “suggest settings” button as a good starting point.

lotsofpetals-smartphotofix2

Sometimes the suggested settings will be so dead on that you won’t even need to tweek the settings ;) Either way, once you’re done hit the ok button and save your image

lotsofpetalsdone



STRAIGHTEN AND FISH EYE CORRECTION

I don’t know about all cameras, but my Kodak has a habit of giving things taken at not quite the right angle a fisheye look – which is when the center is bigger or closer to the camera than the edges, which creates a curved line instead of a straight one – I’ll show you what I mean.

Here’s our original image – yes, more petals, LOL!

fallenpetals-orig

If you imagine a straight line – well a slanted line in this case – across the top, you can see that there is a “bubble” in the middle that distorts it. That’s the fisheye. But, before we get to that we should straighten it because this photo would have more impact if the tombstone was a straight line. To straighten it choose the straighten tool from the toolbar (it’s coupled with the perspective correction tool, which I might cover later if there’s demand for it).

fallenpetals-srtraighten1

This will give you a little line in the middle of your picture that has nodes – or dots – on the ends. Click in the middle of the line once and then lcick again and drag the line up to the object that needs straightened – ie the top of the tombstone

fallenpetals-srtraighten2

Using the nodes at the end of the lines drag them until they line up with where your crooked object IS NOW – not where you want it to go, but where it already is – hence why our line is going to be slanted. When you’ve got it positioned, hit apply in the tool options pallet

fallenpetals-srtraighten3

Now that fisheye bubble is still there, so we need to get rid of it by going to adjust and choosing fisheye distortion correction

fallenpetals-fisheye1

This gives us a pop up box with a strength dialog box. Use the drop down arrow to grab the slider and make the effect weaker or stronger or manually type the number in

fallenpetals-fisheye2

Either myself or my Kodak tends to require about a 36 to correct – but just slide the slider until the image looks straight. As with all boxes the “preview on image” can be very helpful. When you get what you want hit the ok button and then you can apply other filters – like the smart photo fix.

fallenpetals-done

Or you can delve into more possibilities



FILM AND FILTERS

Original photo

piller-orig

Paint Shop Pro 12 – and maybe 11? I can’t recall when they added this – has some very snifty photo effects that take a lot of time out of having to play with levels and hues and all of that. Of course, before we can use them let’s crop our image down.

pillarcrop

Now, go to the effects/photo effects menu and choose film and filters

pillarfilters

A new dialog box will pop up that has two drop down menus. Menu one is your “film selections”

pillarfilters2

And because I know you wanna know, here is what each one looks like:

pillarfilters5-examples

The second box is your “creative filters” menu

pillarfilters3

This filter works by applying a very “see through” or low opacity layer of color over your image – like so:

pillarfilters6-examples

When paired with the “film” it can make for some good filters. In fact, whenever I use vivid or vibrant foliage I tend to select the “cooling” filter and turn the effect strength down to a 2 – which helps cool down to too yellow green that I tend to get in photos. You can adjust the strength of the filter color by using the drop down arrow and dragging the slider as shown, or by typing in a number manually.

pillarfilters4

You can also put any color you want by clicking the colored box and choosing a color from the pop up menu pallet, so the possibilities are endless. However, I’m just going to use a vivid paired with my cooling set at 2 for this image

pillardone



BLACK AND WHITE


Here’s our original photo:

griffin-orig

First you want to do any cropping, etc and then go to the effects – photo effects sub menu and choose black and white film:

griffin-bw1

A new box will pop up that has a color wheel and some sliders – color?!?! Yes, color.

griffin-bw2

We’ll start with the sliders first because they’re the easiest. The brightness and clarify sliders do just what they say – the higher the brightness number the brighter or lighter your image will be, and the lower the number the darker it will be. The higher the clarify the more the image will be clarified – ie highlights drawn out.

Now for the color wheel – this chooses which color the filter uses to “make” it black and white, so to speak. Different colors can have different effects on the finished image. Generally it’s subtle, but sometimes it can be dramatic. See if you notice the difference:

griffin-bw3example

Not really, huh? In that case just use the suggest color button. Once you have it the way you want it hit the OK button and take a look at your image. If, like this one, it lacks the really good contrast that a black and white photo needs – well, we can fix that! Go to adjust – brightness and contrast and pick – you guessed it – brightness and contrast

griffin-bw4

This will give you a new box with some controls in it

griffin-bw5

As pictured above, use the drop down arrows to get the slider bar or manually type the numbers in to adjust both the brightness and contrast – and because I know you want to know what these do here is an example of both at insanely high numbers:

griffin-bw6-example

Play with the sliders until you get what you want, then hit ok and save your image

griffin-done



SEPIA TONING

Sepia tone is that brownish color that old photographs or paper gets as time passes. Some people strive – and even pay money – to get rid of it, but then there are just as many people who like it. It can be effective to give age to a photo, or in a more advanced technique to tone down the colors in an image which I am not covering here :p

So, a basic sepia toning it is. Here’s our original photo:

newton-orig-1

First, we crop it-

newton-crop

- use a smart photo fix -

newton-smartphotofix

-and then for maximum effect we want to make it black and white. No, you don’t have to do this, but like the grayscale, sepia creates a monochrome image and so what makes it pop is the contrast between light and dark, which plays up better in the black and white format

newton-bw

Now go back to the photo filters and select sepia toning

newton-sepia1

Like the others, this opens a new dialog box

newtin-sepia2

The only setting you’ll find under the sepia is how much to “age” the photo. You change the amounts by hitting the little arrow and using the slider or by manually typing a number into the box. Of course, the higher the number the browner your image is

newton-sepia3-examples

As always, if your computer can take it, be sure and checkmark the “preview on image” box for a better idea of what your end result will be. When you’re happy, press the “ok” button

newton-done



INFRARED FILM

This is an effect I rarely use – not because it doesn’t have a good effect, but because the photos I take rarely lend themselves to that kind of feel. Yes, I LIKE those kind, but I never think of them, you know what I mean? But, I have found a fairly suitable photograph for this.

julia-orig

Infrared film is a black and white film, but if you just take an image and run it through the filter you will find that it generally has very little contrast. Like the sepia, this works better if we first make our image black and white. Be sure to turn the brightness down low for maximum effect!

julia-bw

Now go to effects/photo effects and infrared film

julia-infra1

You’ll get a pop up box that has three controls in it.

julia-infra2

The flare control – well, controls how much flare there is from the white objects (see now why you need a high contrast image?) The higher the number the more glow you have, like so:

juliainfra3

Leaving the flare at 100, I will show you what the strength does because, oddly, the higher the number the less flare or dreamy/blurry look you get!

juliainfra4

Grain is self evident IMHO and besides, it doesn’t show up very well unless I make a huge image :p The higher the grain number, the grainier your photo is (I prefer to keep mine at 0 for the misty, smeary look). Either way. When you’re done press “OK” and save your image

julia-done



Since you’re doing so well, let’s add a couple of more advanced techniques here.



CLONE BRUSH

If anyone would like to use my example image to try this with, you will need to get the larger sized image from my flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/3569608100/sizes/o/

So, you cropped that annoying nephew out of the corner of your photo, but you still have ugly power lines over your clouds – or in this case grass all over the neat little photo emblem:

crossportraitoriginal

Either way, it’s ruining the feel of your photo. Now, provided that the background is not too complicated (clouds and grass work really easily – anything that doesn’t need to be uniform does) and you’re willing to put some time in you can just erase those things right out of there! First, you want to choose the clone brush from the toolbar

crossportrait-clonebrush1

Now check your tool pallet. You will probably pop back up to this a few times to adjust the size of your brush as well, so take a good look at it.

crossportrait-clonebrush1b

As with all other pallets, you can use the drop down arrows and sliders to change the settings. The basic settings you will need are size – which is self explanatory – hardness, which you’ll want turned down to a fairly low number to give you good, blending edges – and opacity, or how “see through” it is.

crossportrait-clonebrush5

Once your brush is set, zoom in to the part you want to fix and check your brush size – whatever the circle is on is what it will copy. If the brush is too big it could copy some of the pink granite as well, which we don’t want. Brush size good? Then right click on a part of the image you want to copy (in this case the clean white where there is no grass). This will make a little x appear

crossportrait-clonebrush2

Now scroll down to the first bit you want to cover up – you’ll notice that one ‘cursor” stays on the spot you right clicked at while the other moves independent of it. The one without the x is the area you are going to cover up and whatever is inside the circle with the x is what it is covering it up with

crossportrait-clonebrush3

As you clone brush CLICK – DON’T DRAG! Dragging can create some really f’d up effects that you aren’t going for

crossportrait-clonebrushdontdrag

How close do you need to keep your cursors together? Well, the smaller and more detailed the image the closer they need to be because you need to clone the colors immediately around each piece of grass. But on clouds or grass you may want them quite a distance apart. It all depends on where the cloned object is versus where you are cloning it. On this one I often had them overlapping at the edges

crossportrait-clonebrush4

A good trick for cloning edges it to stagger your brush – use the x in the center of the cursors to line it up so that the edges match, then you can just drag it along

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So, it’s all done, but there are still little hints of yellow in places.

crossportrait-clonebrush7

We can fix that. First, go to the selections tool

crossportrait-select

On the tool pallet drop down the box and choose elipse

crossportrait-select2

Then select the portrait – the ellipse selects from the middle outward, so take a guess at the center of the oval. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs the people in it

<crossportrait-select3

And use the black and white filter – hee-hee. Then use a smart photo fix and you’re all done. Remember – ALWAYS clone BEFORE you apply your image effects – this helps blend them together better.

crossportrait-done

Since you did so well with that, we’ll do one more.



EFFECTS LAYERING

If you’ve read all of this you may have noticed I said that the sepia could be used to tone down a photo? Well this is the way it can be used. No, I’m not demonstrating that – sorry – but the principle is the same.

Our original photo

overgrownorig

This tombstone is crooked, as in leaning. Does it NEED straightened? I think that’s personal preference. I like to things straight, myself, plus it’s a good way to show you how to straighten an image without an edge to line it up against. Choose the straighten tool from the menu:

overgrown-straighten1

Just like last time you’ll get a line in the middle of the photo. We don’t need to move this up or down since we have nothing to line it up with, so just grab one end of the line and drag it until the line looks like it’s sloped with the tombstone – aka eyeball it

overgrown-straighten2

Got to the tool pallet and click “apply”

overgrown-straighten3

Now, time to start layering. But before we layer we need some layers, right? Find your layer pallet (you can turn this off and on by right clicking on the toolbar and choosing palets). It should look something like this:

overgrown-layers1

Once you have it, right click on the only layer there is. You’ll get a pop up menu, and in it you want to choose duplicate:

overgrown-layers2

The new layer should be automatically selected (double check to be sure though!) and then let’s apply a Vivid Foliage from the Photo Effects menu

overgrown-layers3

This makes the green WAY too green, so we want to go back to our layer pallet and turn down the opacity on our layer – think of it as making the layer more “see through” so that the bottom layer shows through and “dims” it down. To do this go to the pallet and use the opacity slider bar:

overgrown-layers4

Now lets add some depth to this. On the layer pallet select the BOTTOM layer, right click and choose duplicate again

overgrown-layers4a

Make sure the new layer (by default called raster 3) is selected and then go to the Black and White photo effect

overgrown-layers5

Now your layer pallet will look like this

overgrown-layers6

You may or may not find the following breakdown helpful. If not, ignore it. If so, then good. This photo is a demonstration of the effects achieved by the layering, so you understand WHY you’re doing this:

overgrown-layers7

Moving left to right we have what it would look like with only the black and white turned on. Next, so you can see what we’re changing, is the original, then all the black and white layer and the vibrant foliage together at their different opacities, and finally the vibrant foliage alone. As you can see the black and white layer darkens the shadows and gives the photo more depth then it would have without that layer. Anyway, play with you opacities and when you have what you want save it.

overgrown-done7



And those, my friends, are some basic photo editing techniques you can use in Paint Shop Pro to make your photo all it can be. As I said earlier, I’m sure that the same effects can be achieved in other programs with different ‘tools’ so long as you keep the general principle in mind.