Monday, 4 June 2018

Gothenburg Nudes IV: Volleyball


As I gain confidence creating nude art (, well, I may be a bit generous to myself, calling my pictures "art", still, I try,) I want to integrate ideas from my other work into my new pictures.

One of those ideas, is to move away from static posing, and capture a moment in time when things move. Comic book artists do it extremely well, as do movie and game concept artists. Photographers and painters usually don't even try.

How do you create a picture like Volleyball?

I take walks with my camera, looking for interesting backgrounds. For the Gothenburg Nudes series, I am primarily interested in locations easily recognizable by people who live in Gothenburg. In a pinch, I'll use anything that looks like a good background for a photo though.

When I find a good background, it usually helps me figure out what the finished scene should look like. For example, I shot the background for Volleyball in a park owned by the Gothenburg Horticultural society. It's in central Gothenburg, and quite popular.

It was a sunny day, and there were lots of people sunbathing in the park. What do you do if you want to push sunbathing to the limit? You go nudist of course, so, there I had the idea for the first picture from the park, A Stroll in the Park.

The next step was to move away from a static scene. What do you do in a park, in the summer, when sunbathing gets boring? (That is, after about 10-15 seconds, if you are like me.)

You can always go for a run if you are alone, but if you want to do something with friends, why not go for volleyball?

The next step was to go to 500px.com, and search for photo references. I wanted to see how volleyball players move.

Next, I set the scene up in Daz Studio. I used my photo of the park as a background in order to get the angles right in the 3D scene. When everything looked the way I wanted it to, I rendered the foreground separately, and then composited in Affinity Photo.

Compositing in Affinity Photo allowed me to match brightness, saturation, and color in the picture. I also made some minor anatomical alterations, similar to those I made when I created The Moon Maiden.

Finally, I used DAP Auto-Painter to paint the picture.

When I worked on Volleyball I got a couple more picture ideas. Today, I took a stroll in the Gothenburg harbour, and got a couple more photos, and maybe an idea or two too.

Well see what happens next...

Gothenburg Nudes III: The Fountain


Have you walked through Bältespännarparken, a park in central Gothenburg, a hot summer day? Have you imagined running through the fountain in the center of the park, just to cool off?

Well, don't expect to see me doing that. I am way to shy to skinny dip in a public fountain. I might have a sip of water from the drinking fountain nearby, but that is as far as I'll go.

 This is the third picture in the Gothenburg Nudes series. If you want to see the previous pictures, and perhaps even read a bit about them, click these links:


Sunday, 3 June 2018

Gothenburg Nudes II: A Stroll in the Park


After publishing Walkabout, I decided to get out a bit more, and to bring my camera. I wanted to shoot reference photos at easily recognizable locations in Gothenburg. Maybe I could turn those quite ordinary locations into something more interesting.

I have done similar things before, but mostly for Fantasy and Science-Fiction themed photos. This time, I wanted to continue exploring nude art.

While I sometimes do model shoots with traditional model poses, I usually prefer pictures with people who do not look like they are posing. I want the camera, and me, to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The same thing goes for a 3D picture or digital painting. I like people who do their own thing, without the need for approval from me or anyone else, and that shows in my pictures.

Please do not get me wrong. We all need to be appreciated, for what we do, and for who we are. I believe it is far better to find people who do appreciate you for being you, and for pursuing your interests, rather than you trying to adapt what you do and who you are to someone elses notions of what is interesting, attractive, and otherwise worthy of notice.

If you deviate from the norm in a noticeable way, you probably won't find many people who really appreciate what you are, so try to be careful to appreciate them in return. It is worth the effort. I know, both because there are people in my life whom I appreciate very much. Sadly, I have sometimes let friendships, and other relationships slip, and I am the poorer for it.

With the Gothenburg Nudes series of pictures I want to capture the feeling of just appreciation beauty, seen and imagined. I want to spice up the ordinary a bit, which is why I have chosen various locations in Gothenburg as locations for the pictures.


Thursday, 24 May 2018

Walkabout (a.k.a. How to apply The Art of War to Photography)

Cheng/Chì (Ortodox/Unortodox) is an idea from Sun Tzu's book The Art of War, that says that to win a battle, you need two things: Ordinary military forces, doing the tried and true things, and unorthodox forces, creating an element of surprise. The principle can be applied to any other art, as well as the art of war.
I used to do a lot of street photography. It is an easy way to get started in photography, but it is also one of the most difficult photographic genres for the simple reason that most of the time, there is nothing noteworthy to shoot.

I followed the rules when shooting street photos, but I also started doing other kinds of photos. Still with a city environment as background, but with a dinosaur, or a spaceship, slipped in to make the picture more interesting.

I haven't done that in awhile, so maybe I should start doing it again.
Technically, this picture is mostly an exercise in tone mapping and saturation mapping. I started using the techniques recently, and I am not entirely happy with them yet. Next time, I intend to work in 32 bit mode all the way through the process, to see if that makes a difference.

Practice

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.
Anton Chekhov
You may wonder, "why so many nudes lately?" Good question. I wish I had a really good answer, but I don't. Here is the closest I can come at the moment:

When I started with photography, I shot a lot of flowers to learn the basics of composition, and how to handle my camera in various lighting situations. I mean a lot of flowers! I shot more than 8,000 the first year, and more than 13,000 the second year. I was out shooting three times a day, every day.

After that, I was kind of done with flowers, but I had learned a bit about photography. After that, I did street photography, model photography, macro photography, levitation photography, flesh manipulation photography, portrait photography, some art photography, even tried my hand at pin-up photography.

Now, with nudes, I have found something as interesting to me as horror, Science-Fiction, and Fantasy photography. I want to learn more, and I want to integrate the nudes with the kinds of photography I've done earlier.

I have always been that way. I used to be a programmer, so I learned programming languages, then techniques of Object-Oriented programming, then design patterns, then project methodology, then systems thinking, queueing theory, Theory Of Constraints, statistics, military strategy, Chinese and Japanese military strategy...

And, I integrate it. I synthesize.

While I do not intend to do 21,000 nude pictures, there will probably be quite a few more, before I have integrated them fully in my repertoire.

Cheng/Chì

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
If you read the picture caption, you already know that Cheng/Chì (Ortodox/Unortodox) is an idea from Sun Tzu's book The Art of War, that says that to win a battle, you need two things: Ordinary military forces, doing the tried and true things, and unorthodox forces, creating an element of surprise.

The principle can be applied to any other art, as well as the art of war. So, in the picture above, the street with all the ordinary people is the cheng, and the nude woman is the element of chì.

So, now you know how to apply the Cheng/Chí principle from Sun Tzu'z The Art of War.

Get out there and practice!

PS. The GDPR Thing!

You might wonder whether a picture like the one in this article breaks the new General Data Protection (GDPR) law. It does not. Journalistic images and art are exempt from the rules. That means it is okay to do street photography, it is okay to create digital paintings from street photographs, and it is okay to manipulate a photo taken in a street, if the purpose is to create a piece of art. You can read up on GDPR here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Moon Maiden II (with the Brom Twist)

Slightly brighter version of the original, and without the toning.
 I could not resist adding the Brom twist to the picture I made yesterday. If ypu compare the versions in this post with the original, I am sure you will figure ut the difference...and wgat it means.


This version is much closer to my original version in color tone and brightness.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Moon Maiden



As you can see, I am taking a somewhat passive-aggressive approach to the nude-art-is-bad ridiculoussness on social media sites.

If you have issues with nude art, or, in my case, attempts at creating nude art, please do not scroll any further.

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There is a fantastic painting by Gerald Brom called Moonlight. (Do click on the link. Brom's painting is incredible.) I wanted to see if I could recreate, in a small manner, some of the sensuality of Brom's painting. I am not even close. Still, for me, pretty good.

If you check out a large version of Moonlight, you will see that Brom added a horrific twist. I left that out, for once. Maybe another time.

A Hairy Problem


When I started using 3D elements in my photos, and making entire 3D scenes, there was one problem I did not anticipate: While the 3D models I use are very realistic, and created by incredibly skilled people, they do lack certain anatomical features.

This is normally not a problem, since, well, clothes. So far, when I have created nudes, I have positioned the characters so that their lack of anatomical detail in certain areas is not a problem.

This particular picture was a bit problematic though, because the picture it is based on, Moonlight, is a full frontal nude.

While I have deliberately (and also accidentally), made a lot of things different in my version, I did not want to change the basic posture of the model too much. The viewing angle is a little bit different from Brom's painting, but I did not want to change that too much either.

Lucky for me, I had a serendipitous solution: Grass!


Some time ago, I practiced making a simple landscape painting. The picture sucks, but it has one feature that turned out to be useful: Lots and lots of grass!

You may note that the grass in the picture has a certain resemblance to hair. It occurred to me that if I changed the color of the brush, shrank it down a bit, changed the brush dynamics to increase the variation in direction of the strands...I just might be able to paint the kind of hair you do not have on the top of your head.

First, I tried to brush up (bad pun, I know), on theory. that is, with blushing cheeks I searched for a tutorial on how to paint the kind of hair that covers Lady Parts.

It turns out there is no such tutorial. At least not on Youtube.



Instead, I turned to one of my favorite digital artists, Aaron Blaise, to get a few pointers on improving my hairbrushing technique. (If you want me to stop with the punning, you got to pay me, okay!)

After watching the video, still slightly blushing, I took the grass brush from my grassy plains project, tweaked it a bit, and practiced making a patch of hair in the right shape. When I was satisfied I could do it, I performed my delicate task.

I think it worked. Phew!

I don't know why my stupid brain gets embarrassed by things that should not be embarrassing at all, but it does. That, I think, is a good reason to keep embarrassing it, until it gets more sensible about it.

Help from a Friend


The picture shown above is not the first version. If you want to see some of the earlier attempts, check them out at ArtStation. The differences are minor, but they have great impact. I am sure you can spot what I changed.

I had very valuable help with the final version from my friend Petra Brewitz. I asked her if she would have a look at an early version of the picture, and help me compare it with Brom's picture. As it turns out, Petra has a book about Brom's art, and it contains a picture of Moonlight that is much better than anything I have seen on the Internet.

That picture, and Petra's insights helped a lot. We tried to mimic the position of the woman in Brom's painting, and we discovered a couple of things.

Long arms, Bloody Fingers


For example, the woman in Moonlight has very long arms. Her upper arms are almost a decimeter longer than normal, and that matters a lot. Replicating the exact position with a live model is not possible.

It can be done with a 3D model of course, by making the arms a bit longer, but I decided not to do it. For this one piece, I wanted to stick to reasonable human proportions.

Another thing, that Petra saw before me, is that Moonlight is not just chock full of sensuality. Under the surface lurks thinly veiled horror.

Look at the fingers on the left hand of the woman. Look at how pointy they are, and look at the thick, sticky, red fluid covering them. That is not strawberry jam.

Finally, here is Brom himself, talking about his art.


Saturday, 19 May 2018

Kyla: The Most Dangerous Game


I saw a simple sketch by the comic book artist Frank Cho recently, where he created an amazingly dynamic composition with a (for him) very simple sketch.

It got me thinking about composition, and circular composition in particular.

Frank Frazetta sometimes used circular composition, for example in his Winged Terror. More often, he used very strong triangular composition, as in his Conan picture Chained and in Luana from 1973.

Frazetta was a master at capturing movement. Look at his sketch Pellucidar. Note the similarities to Frank Cho's sketch. (You did click the link, didn't you?). Frazetta uses triangular composition in his sketch, and Cho used circular, but look at the way they have captured the movement!

Stunning!

So, why does my picture use triangle composition instead of circular composition? Because I realized that to make the composition circular, I would need to rotate the body of the guy in the space suit so that his body is more or less perpendicular to the viewer.

I goofed! I should have sketched everything out more carefully beforehand. Instead, I pushed on with the picture, and did not consider the whole until it was too late.

A contributing factor was that I wanted to use portrait format. The ideal format for a circular composition would be a square (I think...I am fully prepared to change my mind once I learn a bit more.)

In the end, I decided triangular composition is good enough for me, right now. Maybe I'll go circular next time...or not.

I used the DAZ Studio default HDRI image set at 0.3 strength for ambient lighting, one spotlight behind the characters to light contours, and a second spotlight straight above. I used spotlights with large surface areas, to get fairly soft shadows.

I brightened the green suit quite a bit in post. The trouble with camouflage spacesuits is that...well, they are camouflaged.

Finally, I painted the whole thing in Dynamic Auto-Painter.