Where’s The Key Alice? Work in Progress!

Today, I want to talk about my latest photomanipulation.  This post, of course, comes later than the creation I uploaded on DeviantART, simply because I haven’t had the time to write it up.  Life, as always, has been busy.  But lately, it’s been so much busier because asides from researching, I’ve been writing.  Oh yes.  I’ve been writing, and it’s taking such an immense amount of my concentration, I can’t even think beyond my day life (researching), and for the moment, night life (writing project: Golden Phoenix).  But sometime over the last month, I’d managed to find the time to do this:

Where's the Key Alice by N-arteest

My second greatest feat since I returned back to doing what a hobby artist does in her spare time: create, is Where’s the Key Alice?  

Creating something big, wonderful, and beautiful, takes a painstaking amount of time out of one’s day.  While I won’t say that what I make is beautiful, but I do feel extremely proud of my accomplishments.  Until, of course the next one, which makes the previous one seem like it needs a lot of work! Haha.

Every time I come back to creating something new, I find myself improved over time.  This is probably very normal, and is, like with most things, writing, reading, singing, dancing, probably influenced by the changes that have occurred in our lives, that gives us a new perspective on the world.  For me, I just got a little bit older, and hopefully, a little bit wiser.  Every day, though, I still fear the thought of losing yesterday (like the poem I wrote: Voices of Yesterday), of having my world become clear and focussed, rather than that beautiful rosy tint. I don’t, obviously, want to go back to being a child.  I like growing up.  But I don’t want to lose the endless daydreams of childhood, or the boundless abundance of hope that filled them.

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Time is such a precious commodity. I know I spend a lot of time thinking, I’m wasting time sitting here!  Eating is a waste of time!  Why am I wasting my time right now?  Every moment counts.

But some days.  We just need to sit back.  Relax.  It might be hard.  But there is a whole world in front of you.  And just maybe something will inspire you.  If you push yourself to the limit, you will go mad!  Or become so overstressed by the problems that are attacking you from left to right.  I would say get organised!  But maybe what you need is a little disorganisation?  Something to break up the chock-a-block routine you have going, and to completely disrupt your system until it’s in complete smithereens, and all you can do is think…I’ve had.  I’m going to take that damn break.  And maybe, like Forest Gump, you might want to run back and forth across the country, think things through, until sudden you stop, and realise.  That’s it.  I don’t need to think anymore.

Working on Where’s the Key Alice? became my spontaneous inspirational-drop-everything-else break.  Sure I had my research up in the day and I was researching and thinking and reading.  But I also had a jpg of my project up so I could stare at it and analyse what could be eliminated and what could be added.  At some points, I put it away and turned to my research, and found myself thinking…oh…now I didn’t think about that before.  And at night, I spent most of my time piecing and unpiecing, editing, and blending my gigantic mess, all the while, my writing project is open in the background, to glance at every so often, but with no pressure for me to really think about it.  Since there was no need.  Writing comes when it comes.  You don’t force it.  Otherwise you might want to get a pair of scissors and stab the screen for its corniness, or lameness.

So I focussed, with no real solid idea in mind, except that I was inspired while randomly looking for garden pics.  I came across this picture with a fairy girl hunched over a book, and beside her was a great sleeping dragon of some sort.  Overall the composition was very simple.  But I liked this idea of a secret garden.  A second scene to the first Which Way Alice which I really didn’t plan to make a sequel of.

Which Way Alice by N-arteest

Unfortunately, the hair on the two ‘Alices’ look different, because I was trying a different technique.  The feel between them is different too.  However, if I were to ever make it into a series (depending on whether I’m inspired or not), there’d definitely be an explanation! But now that they’re both done and next to each other, I feel like the second one, is the first scene, and the first is the second!

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And now, for the works in progress!  I think I should counted how many layers I used, but in the end, I lost track.  I do know there is at least 100!

So.  Part 1: The Background.  The background in my works is usually just piecing stock photos together, blending it into a much bigger scenery, one that’ll match my imagination.  Unlike with Which Way Alice? I didn’t change my design after I began it.  Right from the beginning, I was pretty set on my idea.  The question was, how do I do it?  when it comes to photomanipulation, the best thing is to have good stock.   It doesn’t have to have the best lighting, or even the best angle, so long as it fits your idea and you can manipulate it realistically.  Lighting you can edit later.

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Above, is the first part, and which I called ‘background’ when I was layering my image.  Since I use many pictures to create a bigger picture, many little elements blended to be one, there are alot of layers.  Coupled with the fact that I use clipped layers for each one to adjust the Colour Balance, it can get a little messy.  So I divide my picture into sections. For Where’s the Key Alice, I went from left to right, and grouped the sections according to an approximate third of the pic.  At the moment, there’s only the colour change applied.  2

The next part of the background, was the middle ground and I wanted waterfalls. I’ve always wanted to manipulate a photo to have an amazing waterfall!  But as you can see, I’m getting there!  Colour Balance again.  You want to have a nice even colour scheme overall.  Mine was aiming for a vivia entrancing, luxurious green for the flora, and a mysterious magical blue-green for the waterfall.

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And of course, a stone mini castle there at the edge of the waterfall.  I wanted to add as many pathways as possible too, since to me, mostly, I love pathways.  I love lots of meandering paths, and misleading doors, that bring up the questions of which way?  4

The Foreground.  Above, we have the last part of the picture.  Originally, I’d enlarged the floating island so that it was at the very forefront of the picture, however, since I wanted to show it floating, I had to shrink it.  Which may have been for the better, but I feel, here, I might have erred, since you can’t see the writing on the lamp post as clearly.  And most of that is important.  Important to the floating island, is the doorway seemingly to another world. This, I definitely, absolutely wanted to add, because the calm of the scenery inside the archway was to contrast against the beauty outside.

5Lighting!  And adding in all the details.  Like the lights, the glow of the lamps.  The faeries.  I brightened up the image using the burn and dodge tool, adding in shadows in some places, and then dodging others to be brighter.

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Stone angels were inserted for their significance.  Just like the other image (Which way Alice) there are exactly 3.  Death is also present.

And now, below, for the Close Ups! The first is of the left side of the picture, by the crystal fountain.  I did blend in sun rays, because I wanted the light shining through, blindingly and brilliantly.  Here as you can see, in the light of the crystal fountain, the shadow of death is waiting along the path.  Just another obstacle along the way.  I still think I probably overdid it with the crystal fountain, and also think I tried something too early too soon.  But hey, when you’re constantly honing your skills, it’s all about the trial and error!  The faeries are all different sizes though,I deliberately did like that because well, they’re magical beings, no need to be rational there!

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Sorry, my WIP kind of went astray and I didn’t talk about the techniques I used as much, but I’ve never really been very good at describing them.  After all, I’ve only just learnt half of the techniques I used for Where’s the Key Alice and Which Way Alice recently myself!  Plus, my method is really very simple, and learnt from tutorials online.  But if you want to know more, let me know!  I will try and whip one up!  Since I know, sometimes tutorials aren’t all that useful, because they’re bam, bam, bam, and unless you’re trialling and errorring, you don’t really know what they’re talking about.

Main Tools of Use:

  • Photoshop (I use C2 since that was the one version of photoshop I first fell in love with!  But I do want to upgrade to the latest since the newer update has a tool I really want to use!)
  • DeviantART stocks and resources (absolutely fabulous)
  • My brain (yes, I did use this, and though it’s obvious, I figure I’d add it in ;P)

I had a lot of fun making this.  And it’s now my laptop wallpaper.  It’s a completed thing, but my skills, like always, are a work in progress.  Everything in life is a work in progress. Nothing is ever truly finished!  When you put your mind to it, you can create something amazing that you didn’t think you could, and when you get older, you can look back and think, wow, I can’t believe I did that then, look what I can do now?  For me, that’s how I hope I’ll see the things I did this year, last year, back when I was 15, in 20 or 30 years time.

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**NOTE: All stocks used for “Where’s The Key Alice” are listed on DeviantART (Another link for you: HERE.  And wow.  I’m amazed.  It’s taken me a few hours to write this all up, and WordPress has autosaved it for me 84 times!  I don’t know why, but I find it quite impressive!

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