Preparing for Surtex by Valerie (Valry) Drake

Last time I told you about my upcoming trip to Surtex. This week I thought I would share some of the computer / Photoshop® preparation of my artwork for the show.
I am working on two collections at a time. One is on the easel and one is in the computer. As it happens, both of the collections I am working on at this time are painted in oils so I need to allow dry time before scanning them. All of my art work is scanned at 400 dpi and saved as JPEG documents. I take pieces that are too large for my scanner to a copy shop such as Kinkos. (Their default scanning is only about $1 but saves the document as a PDF, which won't work. Converting the PDF to a JPEG also changes the price. Last time I was there it was $6 for the first, $5 for the second, and $1 for additional scans. Last time I was there I took three pieces; next time I will carry a larger batch to take advantage of the $1 rate.)

Photoshop® is the industry standard for graphics editing and I have CS4. In Photoshop I start by creating a new document. Notice that I keep the 400 DPI and use a transparent background. I also start with a large canvas, as large as my largest painting.

Next, from the file menu I choose place which allows me to insert my scanned art piece and then press enter to get the thing in there. As you can see, it needs a LOT of work. I also have to go into the layer menu and select rastorize and then click on smart object. (No, I don't know what rastorize means, to me it means, "convert to a format that I can edit.")

Now I will create a second layer and put it underneath the layer with my artwork. This is a temporary layer so that I can easily see what I am doing. I use the paint bucket and fill the temporary layer with white or black - actually I alternate between the two colors so that I check everything VERY carefully. Then I move back to the layer with the artwork, select the background and delete it. Now you can see that black bottom layer showing through and CLEARLY showing me what I still need to delete.

I will painstakingly clean up ALL the edges and erase EVERY little white dot. Then I switch the background layer to white and make sure there are no dots showing up there. Then I delete the bottom layer and save the document as a PNG and also save the Photoshop document. Each element of the collection (3 main elements, such as the one above, and 7 minor elements) goes through this process. Then the elements are combined in various ways.

Finally we see how 2 major elements can be combined with a temporary background dropped in. The gizmo and the baby are separate paintings and the originals are both the same size. As you can see, I reduced the baby and positioned him with part of the gizmo painting overlapping on the baby.

Yep, it takes a LOT of time and patience.

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