Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the making of Tyrdwyrm

I've decided to name the dragon in the previous post Tyrdwyrm, in honor of his sacred shape and his not-so-sacred provenance.

The Tyrdwyrm pic was composited as five different layers:

1. background shot of a toilet (found online; that's not my toilet, and I'm not sure it's wise to install a toilet directly under a shelf, making it nearly impossible to access the toilet tank; I hope that shelf is removable)

2. the wyrm itself (found through a simple Google Images search of the string "dragon"; I used Dragon Number 4 from this page, which features some amazing carvings)

3. a close-up shot of a water droplet splashing (A, front half)

4. a close-up shot of a water droplet splashing (B, back half)

5. a totally CG layer of toilet water

There was a sixth layer, but it doesn't really count: I had to fill in some details of the dragon's tail, but I fused that extra layer in with the dragon's layer (get it?? oh, I am slick!).

I decided to do the shot in black and white because I had more freedom choosing colors that would be rendered as subtle shades of gray. I also saw right away that the different photos (dragon, toilet, droplet splash) were a mess in terms of lighting, and B&W would smooth out much of the chromatic weirdness.

I slapped on the background first: obviously, we need the toilet as the setting. Next up, I fiddled with the dragon, cutting away extraneous details without worrying too much about surgical precision. I knew the dragon was going to be slightly blurred to indicate motion, so it seemed silly to waste time on details that wouldn't make it into the final cut, anyway.

I then had to split the water droplet into two layers, as some of the splashing would be behind the dragon while the bulk of it would be in front. The "magic wand" selection tool made short work of the extraneous black background (I accidentally deleted some foreground blackness from the splash, but it didn't seem to matter much). I was happy to see that the droplet was perfect for my needs; it goes to show that reality often behaves fractally, showing similar properties at the micro and macro level (cf. foamlike galactic superclusters).

The most fun was designing the main layer of toilet water. This took some thinking. In the original photo, the toilet's water level is rather low, and I wanted it higher. I traced the toilet bowl's inner edge with the "magic lasso" tool (Wonder Woman's singular contribution to Photoshop), then used the "fill" tool to cover the entire shape with red (which, of course, scanned as a shade of gray). It would have been nearly impossible to get decent ripple effects without scattering something on the surface of that water to provide texture, so I used the "add noise" function to introduce a good bit of speckling. After that, it was a matter of applying various filters-- liquefy, radial blur, ocean ripple, you name it.

When all that was finished, I bumped the toilet water down to Layer 2 (above Layer 1, the toilet itself), made Droplet B into Layer 3, made the dragon Layer 4, and finished off with Droplet A as Layer 5. I applied "free transform" to this layer to stretch and pull the droplet so that it covered most of the revealing seams in the drawing, then did a near-vertical motion blur to heighten the sense that the dragon was splashing around in the terlit. I went back to the dragon's layer (ha ha!), did a similar blur for Tyrdwyrm, then fused all the layers together.

The pic still didn't look dynamic enough, so I applied a "zoom blur" to the entire thing, trying to center the action on the dragon's face and neck so that the face and neck would blur the least, leaving Tyrdwyrm identifiable as my dragon-turd. The end result is what you see. I was tempted to write a caption directly onto the pic, but decided to leave it alone, instead hiding a caption in the "title" HTML inside the "img src" tag.

It's true what they say: learning how to operate with layers is the key to good Photoshopping. I don't know whether Tyrdwyrm qualifies as "good," but it was fun making him. Her. It.

One final note: you should be glad I didn't go with my first idea, which was to take a dragon image, make it somewhat transparent, then overlay that on a picture of someone's shit. Maybe even my own. Oh, be thankful I didn't go there.



Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, because another Korea blogger recently did just that, and my eyeballs still hurt.

I had no idea I was that sensitive.

Anonymous said...

Bird day coming soon?

Elisson said...

Kevin, you are a twisted genius...apparently, one with too much time on your hands. And Gawd knows what else.

With those wonderful detailed instructions, all of us Demento-Bloggers can now go out and build our own Turdly Bestiary! But there will, forever and aye, be only one TyrdWyrm. And thou hast created him.

And now...to track down the deadly Kitteh-dirudo!

Joel said...

I think half of my toilets in Korea have been like that. The counter top comes with a removable plate for accessing the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Ah, so that's why the whole thing is blurry. I haven't seen the original so obviously I have no basis for comparison, but I don't think it makes it look dynamic. Perhaps a layer mask before applying the zoom blur, limiting it to just the dragon? As it is it simply looks blurry.

Oh, and this

"I went back to the dragon's layer"

caused me to use up my monthly quotient of groans--and it's not even the middle of the month yet!

Kevin Kim said...

"...but I don't think it makes it look dynamic."

Says you.

grumble grumble grumble...