David Macdonald – Illusions and Illustrations

David Macdonald got in touch recently to discuss developments in Satori FilmFX, the film painting software that we both use.
He added a link to his personal Photoshop illustration work that shows some amazing illusionistic work.

thumbnail of The Terrace
(Click this thumbnail to reveal the whole picture, please) The Terrace

thumbnail of Peregrination
(Click to reveal the whole BIG picture) Peregrination

I am a DOP1who used to live and work in London but now am semi retired living in Brussels with occasional trips to shoot in “Bollywood”

My digital work is a synthesis of my experience as a lighting cameraman and my self taught digital manipulation (mostly with photoshop) and some minor use of 3D software when I have no other choice. I create illusions in the spirit of MC Escher but photo realistically.

I’d love to see these pictures as animation backgrounds with characters bounding and bouncing around in improbable moves.

Footnotes for this post:____________________________________
  1. Director of Photography []

Animated Characters Re-animated

thumbnail of Homer Simpson re-animated
(Click to enlarge ) Homer Simpson re-animated by Pixeloo

It becomes more and more difficult to draw a clear line between animation and reality, especially when artists like Pixeloo keep pushing fantasy figures (like Homer here) back over the fantasy / reality border.
Pixeloo is a Photoshop expert by day, who spends a lot of his leisure time “untooning” cartoon characters.

His re-interpretation of Jessica Rabbit from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is extraordinary –

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Jessica Rabbit untooned by Pixeloo
See how Pixeloo paints her here.

Long time computer games performer, Mario, gets a reality shower in the piece below, and below that there’s a visual comparison of Mario in his low poly guise, and his slightly more lived-in Pixeloo untooned look.

thumbnail of Mario untooned
Mario The Plumber, star of 200+ computer games, looking a little worse for wear.

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Which one is more real?

This last one is truly spooky. Please click the thumbnail image to reveal the full creepiness of Stewie from Family Guy. *shudder*

thumbnail of Stewie

Now, back to reality please.

The Best Photoshop Tip I’ve Ever Forgotten

There are so many handy tips about obscure Photoshop techniques floating around, that sooner or later, some of the more arcane ones just float off, beyond the reach of memory. Well; my memory, anyway.

The research I do entails a lot of scanning, and of all sorts of materials. Typescripts, books and magazines, and even old faxes that can all take a huge amount of Photoshop tweaking before they yield their textual hearts to the OCR software and become malleable, editable text once more.

I once found a tip that made it really easy to discover the exact angle that an image of a page needed to be rotated by to make it perfectly vertical once more. That was a few years ago, and through lack of use, I forgot the darn thing.
Many trial and error filled hours were spent trying to gauge tiny fractions of a degree of rotation so as to straighten my pictures. What an obstinate waste of time.

Today I was trying to clean up some old notes written by Richard Williams about various animation topics that will form a new series of posts here. Some of the notes had been photocopied at extremely wonky angles to the photocopier, and I thought it would be a good moment to re-learn the beautiful and subtle rotation photoshop technique. I rediscovered it at the Tek-Tips forum (1,354,000 members) that I normally consult for hardware problems, and there’s a huge community of people discussing tech tips about every minute aspect of computing.

You can see it demonstrated below. (all the images get bigger when you click them)

First: Scan your image –

thumbnail of Sloping scan

Your typical wonky scan that needs to be rotated. But by how much, exactly? One degree? One and a smidgin?
First you need to get to the Measure Tool. This is not an everyday tool, I suspect from the fact that it’s buried way down a right click submenu, and it’s probably most commonly used for measuring the edges of right angled components. However, it also measures angle, much to my joy.

thumbnail of Where to find the Measure Tool

Dig down by right clicking on the eyedropper tool and you’ll find it.

thumbnail of Underline the feature whose angle you want to measure
Drag the Measure tool along the baseline of the text, or whatever it is whose slope you wish to measure. This example shows the very thin line of the Measure tool on the baseline of some type, between the two purple arrows.
O.K. Now click on Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary and Tadaaah!! the angle in degrees is already in the box, awaiting your next click Clockwise or Counter Clockwise….

thumbnail of Accuracy and convenience
Accuracy and convenience. Who could ask for more? Just click OK!

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Straight up! The grid shows how accurate this method is. To remove the grid press Ctrl and “H”

Coming soon: The Richard Williams Notes