Sketchy Cutouts; More Image Experiments

Hermit Thrush SketchIn 2013 I began experimenting on my images with a process I call Cutouts. I was interested in presenting the birds in a non-standard way to give the subjects more “pop”. Some of the results I produced were successful, some not so much. Removing the subjects from their context accomplished the primary goal, but I could imagine a hybrid  presentation that would bring the subject out of the frame, while muting the background. One approach I considered was to turn the image to black-and-white/ gray-scale, and leave the bird in color. This experiment did not satisfy my vision. I wanted the background to look drawn in as in a pencil sketch.

PhotoShop is a wondrous tool, but the techniques I researched and experimented with were laborious and the results less than satisfying. I resolved to abandon the backgrounds altogether and continue processing my mountains of image files to build up my library. Now I have over 500 files in my Cutout collection. I tried to prepare at least one image for each species of birds in my library. Some of the resulting images were rather weak, but others came out pretty well. I produced a set of framed and matted prints that were exhibited around the county in public libraries.

Fast forward to the present: I still wanted to see if there was a way to ‘pencil-sketch’ the backgrounds. I found several offerings that will do this on a smartphone. Why not on a full-blown PC? My search this time was successful. I found a software tool that plugs into PhotoShop and exceeds my requirements. As I reprocess my Cutouts file inventory, I am learning techniques that yield a variety of interesting results. As expected, some of the files lend themselves to the process better than others. Had I started out creating the original Cutout collection with this tool in hand, the transition to the Sketch format would have been easier or more efficient. Knowing what I now know about the process will no doubt influence future decisions about file selections. I will evaluate images with a different eye to determine what may or may not give me the results I am aiming for.

I’m reminded that success may be a matter of taste. There are no failures.

To see the results so far, look below

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