Friday, December 28, 2012

Obvious Choice

Don't you wish all choices were this easy?

So I wanted to cap but wasn't feeling particularly Caitlynesque.  I looked through a bunch of good images but none really gave me a good story idea.  I just figured I would end up creatively frustrated for the rest of the day when I came upon this image:

I know she's actually holding a cherry tomato (or is that a grape tomato?), but the first thing in my mind was the scene from the Matrix.  I know it's been done before in a TG cap theme, but I figured it would be fun design wise.  How much could I emphasize the red 'pill' and still have the cap look good?

Since I took a more design centric path to this cap, I figured it might be fun to show the steps I took to get from that basic image to the final product.  If you don't want to see how the sausage is made, you can stop reading now.

My first step was to crop down the image.  I really didn't want the original watermark in the cap and all that space on the right hand side isn't needed:

Next I quickly wrote up the story.  It isn't much... just a comparison of his sad and normal former life versus his humiliating and luxurious new life.  Which by the way is how I always viewed Neo's choice in the matrix... a life without struggle while dreaming of more or a life of meaning while dreaming of normalcy.  With a story to work with I laid it out into the frame and sized it to fit on the table cloth.  I didn't want to have a text box as it would just take away from the red pill, but I also wanted to emphasize the color red:

Next up was a little cloning to take the stem of the tomato away (make it look more like a huge pill).  I tried over saturating the 'pill' (making it MORE red), but it just felt a little to fake.  So to get a similar effect I made a gradient selection around the 'pill' and desaturated everything else while still pumping up the 'pill' a bit:

That was the effect I envisioned when I first saw the image.  I figured a title of 'Obvious Choice' worked, and did a lower/upper case on the words to emphasize that she's making a choice.  My first attempt was in red:

I liked the red, but I felt that it took to much visual attention away from the story and the 'pill'.  But making the text black didn't work either:

Normally if I want to have a dark text over a dark background I just add a glow... but because the title laid over both a light and dark area it didn't quite work out:

Since the glow over a light area is hard to see, it gives the title an unbalance feel.  And at least to me, that unbalanced feel brings my attention back up to the title over the story and/or 'pill'.  Now I could have just moved the title over to a lighter area (say move it to the left a bit and shrink it down some)... but that too would affect the balance. So instead, I just darkened down the area under the title so that the glow would be more visible:

Now I had the title visible, but not overpowering.  I was happy with the story, happy with the 'pill', happy with the color of the image, and happy with the title.  But something was still missing.  I sat back and looked at it for awhile and read the story over a few times and it finally hit me.  The story has a rather 'dreamy' ethereal feel to it, but the image was very sharp and in I did an effect I've used a couple times before.  Copy the image layer, blur it out quite a bit, then lower it's opacity so that you can see through it to the sharp image below:

It was ALMOST there.... My only problem was that I didn't want her face blurred.... so using a big brush eraser I erased the blurred layer over her face (and 'pill'), letting the fully sharp image show completely:

And that's where I was completely happy with the design.


  1. Damn, that was perfectly written. Concise yet so evocative and the model's gaze draws you right in. The layout and filtering are perfect and don't draw attention to themselves, they only serve the story which was sexy and sweet.
    Loved it. please check out my new blog if you have time

  2. Dear Caitlyn,

    This is one of my favorites of yours so far. First, I love your description of the very technical creative process. Envious is not the right word, for that implies a negative sense. But I so wish I could do what you do with photos. But then, second, the story concisely sums up and is enhanced by the expression on the young woman's face. Of course, when you put it as you do, the choice is rather obvious. Especially from a sissy's point of view.

    Beautiful work!



  3. A great piece of writing. The hard work is in the appearance of simplicity

  4. I love it when your "heroine" has a moment to ponder a return to normal. And normal is no longer an option ;)