Sunday, November 20, 2016

Monthly Inspection - redux

Improvement.... after only three days!

So, this is kind of the half redux I originally thought of.  As I wrote in "Monthly Inspection" I wanted to make the text look like it was handwritten and on notepaper.  I even thought about making each panel's writing different as Caitlyn/Calvin's mindset and situation change.  The first panel would be on regular paper and regular handwriting.  The second panel would be on very pretty paper and have nice cursive writing.  The third would be on a crumpled piece of paper and scribbed out in crayon and I hadn't really considered too much what the fourth panel would be.

Unfortunately as I tried to get that part done, it just became overtly difficult.  Lining up text that looks handwritten on a photograph of paper is not the easist thing to do.  And fonts that look handwritten aren't the easiest things to read so the text boxes would be larger than the current ones.  As I contemplated these problems and started working on the second panel's paper/writing... I gave up.  I had spent 45 minutes on it and was no where near satisfied with the result.  If it took that long on each panel, it would have taken me another 5 or 6 hours.  And for what?  Something that would look a little better.

This goes right back to one of my work ethics when it comes to creativity.  Strive for perfection but don't let that endeavor get in the way of 'good enough'.  This text was good enough.

BUT... I still wanted to jazz it up a bit.  Adding a Polaroid frame isn't new and it isn't even all that difficult. I think I've done it 4 or 5 times in the past.  Here's how it went.  I started with the original file (understand that I'm recreating this specifically for the write-up, so some of hte elements may not line up like the final product above):

I tossed in the Polaroid frame I have saved on the hard drive and lined it up around the part of the photo I wanted.  This was actually hardest on this first panel as loved her curved ass and wanted to emphasize that, but wouldn't be able to get the Polaroid frame around both her face and her ass.  So I picked her face as her expression is just PERFECT!!:

Now the text and the Polaroid frame make this far to heavy on the right hand side.  So the text-box and text had to move.  I slide it over to the left side underneath the title (still want to show off that ass!)

That looks pretty good.  Or at least it will when the color is pulled out of the background and it's blurred a bit.  Using the Magic Want in Photoshop I select the inner square of the Polaroid frame.  Keeping that selection I change to the background layer.  A simple Copy/Paste motion gives me a new layer with just the area that's 'inside' the Polaroid frame.  So long as I move those layers together, they should always line up perfectly.

With that area now safe, I move back to the background layer and blur it out.  I use the Gaussian Blur filter in Photoshop because it's what I've been using for decades now.  I fiddle around with it until it's blurred enough to be a true 'background' but still clear enough to see that ass:

Then it's just a matter of making that layer black and white.  I've done that enough in Photoshop that it's one of the few key commands I have memorized.  Control-Shift-U gives me this:

The last part was adding the 'redux' under the title.  I wanted it to be subtle but obvious once you saw it, so I used a different font and the color from the 'Monthly' portion of the title:

At that point I'm off to the races.  I use that same technique to all four frames.  I was really happy with each individual piece so I saved them, made .jpgs of them, made a header graphic, and then started posting.   Once I added the four frames into this post though, I noticed how jarring it was to have all the Polaroid frames at the same exact angle:

That was like striking a powerful minor chord on a piano. It just struck me as WRONG.  If it was just a 'little off' I could have accepted it but this was all caps bold and italics WRONG.  So I went back into Photoshop and fiddled around with them.  Thankfully it wasn't hard as I had all the original files to work with so I could pull the original color background in, reposition the Polaroid frame, select out it's center, pull that portion out of the background, blur the background, make the background black and white, and save it.

The only one that wasn't changed was the fourth panel as I really liked how the header graphic worked and didn't want to remake that one too.

So... I'm happy with it.  It was a fun little experiment in taking something that I had previously found to be 'good enough' attempt to make it perfect, and settle on a better version of 'good enough'.

Hope you enjoyed this little redux.  And as always... if you enjoy this kind of story come play with me at D+X!


  1. It's definitely about the framing of the Polaroid onto the full picture that makes the difference. You balance the "dead space" much better that way with at least something that draws your eyes to what the heart of the caption is. Once again, I love when we can show people the technical aspects of why captioners do what they do and the impact it has on the final result.

  2. Indeed. And as Dee suggested for Thanksgiving, thank you for your ideas, captions and Obscuras!