Sunday, May 22, 2016

Picture made with Words Tutorial

In high school the art classes used to do this thing where they make a picture using words, and I decided I wanted to as well. I did this a few years ago and didn't take pictures of the process:

The entire picture is written by me with black sharpies (regular and thin pointed). I did this on an 11"x14" canvas, then framed. I made a few mistakes along the way, but I just made another one for a friend's wedding gift, so now I have pictures of the process.

The original picture, and the final product:

This one is on paper instead of canvas (to save $$$) and 12"x12" because that's as big as regular cardstock comes.

I asked my friend for 3-5 pictures of her and her fiance. I wanted a straight on shot that was fairly close-up (not full body). Pictures with high contrast tend to work best. I asked her for multiple pictures because sometimes the shading just doesn't look right on a certain picture. She gave me 6, and I really could have only made 2 of them work. 

Once you have a few pictures, you need to edit them in photoshop. I used this tutorial to figure out how to make a photo into 3 shades of gray. The tutorial actually tells you how to do the entire picture digitally, but I wanted to do it my hand. 

Basically, you open your photo in photoshop and: "From the Select menu, choose Color Range. From the Select drop-down menu in the Color Range dialog, choose Shadows and click OK. Then, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to copy the selected pixels onto a new layer.  Click back on the Background layer in the Layers panel."

Repeat the above step for "highlights" and "midtones" as well. This step was where I was playing with the shadows and stuff. You can adjust what to select for each layer. You want enough dark tones, but not too many. And enough midtones, but not too much. 

After you have the three layers: "Click the Eye icon next to the Background layer in the Layers panel to hide that layer from view. Click on the midtones layer and from the Edit menu choose Fill. Use 50% Gray, check the Preserve Transparency box, and click OK. Then, activate the shadow layer and use the Fill command again, except this time use Black with Preserve Transparency checked. Repeat for the highlight tones, and fill with White."

This is when you can see what the picture will look like. I did this three times, adjusting what exactly was a "shadow" or "midtone" or "highlight" each time, and ended up with the following 3 pictures.

I thought the first didn't have enough dark tones and had too much highlight. The second and third had a lot of shadow on the male's face, but the girl looked good in both of these. I ended up choosing the second, and then creating a 4th picture where the midtones on his face weren't so large.

I used the above picture to shadow his chin/neck area only. Otherwise I did not reference this picture. 

The entire photoshop experience took me roughly 2 hours. 

Originally I was going to print the picture off and trace it onto a 12"x12" piece of paper. To do this I opened the photo in Excel (weird, I know) by going to Insert-> photo. When you print a photo from Excel it automatically splits it into as many pages as the picture takes up. Word, on the other hand, just cuts off whatever part of the picture doesn't fit on the page. That's why I was using excel. I made the picture large enough in Excel so the humans were 9.75" tall. I thought this would fit the 12" tall paper nicely. (The way that I measure the picture is to insert a shape - I use a box- and make the box the same size as from the top of his head to the bottom of the picture. Then go to the format tab in Excel and it tell you how tall the box is, so you know how tall the top of his head will be.)

I was going to print out the picture, tape the pages together, since it wouldn't fit on one page, then tape that the the back of my cardstock paper and use a flashlight to trace it on. My printer wasn't working, so instead I zoomed to 100% on Excel and just traced it from the computer. 

I traced out all the light/medium/dark sections from the picture (and used the other picture mentioned above for his chin area). 

Once this was traced out, I started writing the text. I used a regular black sharpie for all my "shadow" areas, which were dark. I wrote out The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I started with his hair, then the dark areas on his face, then her hair and her face, etc. I kept track of what areas I did in what order and made a guide of it so that they can actually go through and read the proclamation if they tried to. 

For the hair, I like to write in the direction that the hair is flowing. For all other areas, I just write straight, horizontal lines of text. 

The midtones were made with a fine-point sharpie. I spaced out my letters a a tiny bit, but not much. The light areas I used the fine-point sharpie but spaced out the letters a lot. You don't have to fill in the white areas with any text, but I wanted to because his shirt and arm end without and midtones or shadows on the edges, so without any text in the highlight areas, he would blend right into the plain white background of the paper and we wouldn't know where he ends. 

Here are some close-ups of the text. Sometimes it's hard to read because the letters bleed together, but I tried my best. 

For the title, I went into Microsoft Word and typed the title using Arial font. I traced it onto the paper the same way I traced the photo. To make sure it was centered, I marked on my paper where the exact center line was. In Word, I put an "I" right below the title, and then lined up the "I" with my center line.

To fill in "The Family" I wrote out "THE FAMILY" over and over again with the fine-point sharpie. The fill in "A Proclamation to the World" I wrote out "A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD" over and over again with the fine-point sharpie.

The final product:


The original, for reference:

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