I did a shoot for 9-piece Latin band 'Los Chavos' a couple of weeks ago and have been busy processing them up. One of the parts of the commission (the kinda optional part) was to produce a poster for the band in the style Pop Art Cartoon by taking headshots of the band and reducing them effectively to solid colour paintings. I'd not tried it before but I knew it was possible so I agreed. I'd shot the headshots using the intense blue of our autumnal skies to make it easier to mask out later and replace it with whatever colour I chose.
When I first approached the task I thought 'It'll be easiest just to paint these in Photoshop using the original photo as a base.'. But then I'm not the greatest illustrator in the world and in effect I was afraid they wouldn't look any good (I'm sure I'm not alone on that front) so I went for what I thought was the safest option … trialling and recording a series of actions incorporating various filters in Photoshop. The two main filters were 'Poster Edges' and 'Cutout' which I chose for their ability to effectively reduce the number of colours and tones I wanted in my final image. OK so after a couple of testy tweaky runs I passed all nine of the images through the action … and? Well, the results weren't great, at least for most of the images. One worked really well, two others were alright and the remaining six were rubbish. I re-tweaked the processing and got a slightly better result: three out of the nine were now pretty close to where I wanted them to be … that only left six (the same six as before!) still looking rubbish.
Hmmm … there was always the painting option… so I began to paint. Not from scratch but using an intermediary layer created during the processing action. Using my editing tablet, I selected a hard brush, sampled colours as I went and well, painted! I was soon pretty caught up in the process and while each picture took a while (about 30 minutes each I guess) I was pretty bloody satisfied with the result.
When I arranged all nine into the poster and coloured them up yellow, blue or red … I literally said 'wow!'. I should note that I'm easily impressed with my own cleverness 😉
The members of Los Chavos love it (and all the other non-painty ones which I'll post soon) so I think I've found another artform … who'd a thunk it?