Reverb Studios Design 10 Years Old Today!

On this day, 11th of the 11th, exactly 10 years ago I registered the business name “Reverb Studios” with the Companies Registration Office having finally realised that the Photoshop and Web Design hobbies I’d had for a couple of years might actually have some potential to provide a full time job. I’d only just moved to Leitrim a couple of years before and hadn’t been able to find a job in my field which at the time would have been Electronics/Engineering so in my ample spare time I messed around on the computer, teaching myself Photoshop, Dreamweaver, HTML/CSS, Music Editing and other programs that I still use regularly today.

I had registered a small PC Repair business the year before and got a few jobs per week fixing people’s computers. Mostly virus removal, optimisation and hardware upgrades but I didn’t enjoy it all that much and income was minimal. I built a few websites for myself, then friends and family who in turn recommended me to friends of theirs and before I knew it really, I was a web designer and my web design services were in demand! Luckily, around that time it was beginning to dawn on people that marketing your business on the web as well as offline was becoming a bit of a necessity so there seemed to be plenty of work. I got some mentoring and funding from the local enterprise board in Leitrim, wrote a business plan (at their suggestion) and basically professionalised my skills and offering and got started in earnest.

Since then I’ve gradually increased my clients list and income year on year and I’m glad to say that today I have a well known and respected business with over 120 repeat clients and have become recognised locally as an expert in both WordPress Web design and Photoshop as well as general IT solutions.

I plan to be in business for another 10 years at least and to continue expanding my skillset, services and client base and hopefully expand employee numbers or partner with other companies at some stage.

The moral of my story is that it’s absolutely possible to make a career out of a hobby or something you love doing and to achieve that on your own steam starting with no experience or qualifications. All it takes is some common sense, hard work, good organisation and great communication.

Leon – Reverb Studios

 

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“Paul Lennon” – Lennon McCartney Face Mashup in Photoshop

I googled for some cool Photoshop face mashups of John Lennon & Paul McCartney just for the crack but there didn’t seem to be any. Maybe there’s some unwritten law against doing it or something!? So basically I done my own for practice..

Assets:

I found the best, hi-res facial portraits from roughly the same angle I could find in Google. There were many more of Lennon than McCartney!?

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney

And..

John Lennon
John Lennon

Process:

The Lennon one was much better quality so when I brought them both into photoshop I actually added some noise/grain to the Lennon photo to make it match McCartney better after which I added a couple of master Hue/Saturation adjustment layers to bring everything down to grayscale and control tones.

Step 1: 

The first step was to rotate and align McCartney on top of Lennon precisely, matching eye, nose and mouth positions and using the layer opacity slider for guidance. Once that was done I added a layer mask to McCartney and fairly roughly masked out all but his eyes, nose and mouth using  a very soft brush.

Step 2:

I very carefully cut out Lennon’s glasses and pasted them on a new layer on top of McCartney’s face, masking out the glass part and adding a light grey color to the glass area which I made very transparent.

Step 3:

I manually added some shadow using a soft black brush behind the glasses on the bridge of the nose and top of the cheeks, matching the shadow type of the original Lennon photo.

Step 4: 

I duplicated the McCartney layer and masked out everything but the eye sockets and eyes and then applied a Liquify – Pucker filter to make the eyes look a little distorted through the glass as in the Lennon photo.

Step 5: 

I added some glare on the left eye glass and tidied up the merge by adding some shadows and darkening/brightening some facial areas as well as messing with levels on both photos to match up better.

Finally:

I added master Levels and Photo Filter adjustment layers to unify the tone as well as a retro font with the title of the work.

Here’s the final result:

Paul Lenon
Paul Lenon

Leon

Christina in Red in 2015

A few days ago a friend on Facebook shared a fascinating collection of color photos taken in 1913 by Mervyn O’ Gorman of his daughter Christina using “Autochrome Lumière”, the main color photographic process of the time which involved using glass plates and dyed potato starch! The photos were taken near where I was born 62 years later in Dorset..

I stared at the photos for ages trying to take in the fact that they were taken so long ago, before the first world war, just after the Titanic sunk and about when my grandparents were born. Realising that the girl and photographer are probably long dead, these were brilliant, full color freeze frames of moments of their lives over 100 years ago.

What struck me most about the photos was that although they were taken 102 years ago, they looked as though they could have been taken yesterday, Particularly the one below!?:

Modern Teen!?

So naturally, me being me, the thing to do was Photoshop some modern items into one of the photos! I chose this one below because of the space in the sea to place an object in and also the direction of Christina’s gaze which suggested she was looking at something on the beach:

Original

I decided to place a luxury giant Cruise Ship on the sea and a Laptop on the beach. Obvious choices for me and the 21st century! What made the integration a little easier at least with the cruise ship was that, due to the photographic process involved which necessitated a large aperture and narrow depth of field, the background was mostly blurred so I just blurred the ship and added some noise to it, avoiding having to cut the edges out in great detail.

I added a Sony Vaio laptop in Christina’s eyeline and added a little less blur and noise to it as well as shadows underneath to help it sit in the stones better. I also added a slight Vignette and Sepia photo filter to make it look older. The result is below:

new

Here’s a screenshot of my Photoshop Layer setup:

Process

Aviva Gladiator

No idea why but I just wanted to do a photo composition where one element is totally out of place in another. A Gladiator in the Aviva stadium seemed appropriate!

Assets:

A hi-res, pitch level shot of the Aviva stadium Dublin, bathed in sunshine. Sourced from Google Images.

Aviva Stadium

A decent, full length pic of a Gladiator looking a little confused! Sourced from sxc.hu.

Confused Gladiator

The Process:

After cutting the Gladiator out of his background with the Pen tool, I spent quite a bit of time finding the best position and size for him in the Aviva photo so it looked like he was really there on the pitch. After finding his spot and tidying up his edges and hair with a brush & mask, I created his shadow by duplicating his layer, warping with the Transform tool and adding a Gaussian Blur then making the shadow layer slightly transparent to match the stadium roof shadow.

Next, I planted Mr Gladiator firmly on the ground by hand drawing in shadows under his feet with a soft black brush. Some more shadows next. Since I put him standing under the shadow of the stadium roof, I needed to add some roof shadows onto him directly so again, using the brush, I painted on shadows, matching the lines of the stadium shadow, then made them a bit transparent to look more natural.

Finally, I added a Photo Filter Adjustment layer, just on the Gladiator and used a sampled green color from the pitch just to match him into the color scheme a bit better.

The final result with caption:

Wrong Time, Wrong Place

Leon

TP For Your Bunghole?

My Beavis/Cornholio, T-shirt over the head, “TP for my bunghole” impersonation is legendary at this stage so I thought I’d create a jar of virtual “TP Cream” in Photoshop for the crack (pardon the pun). I started out with the following assets:

  1. A nice Hi-res jar of cream image from sxc.hu,
  2. A decent head shot of the man himself “Beavis” from Google images,
  3. Photoshop CS6.

I cut the original jar image below out of it’s background just so I could create my own jar reflections, shadows and background colour:

tp-before

Next I used the Pen tool to draw the shape of a jar label and the star shape around Beavis’s head both of which I added an orange stroke effect to. I cut Beavis out of his background image and pasted him onto the label then used the Transform tool to get his size and perspective right’ish. I dragged in Beavis again and manoeuvred him on to the jar lid with the Transform tool again then set his layer to Overlay to make him fit in better.

Next I drew a path with the Pen tool that followed the shape of the label and added “TP For Your Bunghole” along it. I used the dreaded Comic Sans font but it seemed appropriate for this job!?

Finally, I added a bit of manual darkening over the right side of the added graphics using a very opaque and soft black brush, just to mirror the jar darkness on that side. I also used the colour replacement tool to make the cream inside the jar a little less pinky and more browny/orangey to match the colour scheme and topic!

Here’s the final effort:

TP for your Bunghole

 

Leon.

PS – this cream is fictitious, I’m not selling any before you ask!

 

Pontiac Trans-Am Firebird Photo Composition

I love Firebirds and American Muscle cars in general. Maybe the universe will be good to me and I’ll be able to afford to own (and run) one some day! Some guy in Leitrim has a Firebird amazingly and I see/hear it pass by the odd time and drool. The Firebird is a version of the car model featured in ‘Knight Rider’.

Anyhow, for a bit of much needed Photoshop practice, I decided to edit a photo of a Pontiac Trans-Am Firebird into a photo of my dining table (no idea why the table!) and try make it look like it was really there instead of on some American highway.

Here’s what I started with, said pic of a Firebird on a highway sourced from Google (sue me):

Original

And a pic of my dining room table top, taken at an angle to try to emulate the viewpoint in the Firebird pic above:

Dining Table

After careful cutout of the car with the Pen tool and placing it at the right point on the Table image as well as a bit of Perspective Lens Correcting of the table, I was able to make it look like it blended in a bit. Here are the steps I took to finish the composition off:

  1. Duplicate the Car layer and set the new layer to Multiply blend mode to make it fit in better light wise, after all the original car pic was taken outdoors daytime and I’m putting it in an indoor, dusk shot,
  2. Select the car layer and add a Photo Filter Adjustment layer with a colour sampled from the table. This helps the car fit in colour wise.
  3. Duplicate the car layer again and completely darken it then use the Transform tool to squash it down to the rough shape of a car shadow underneath the original car layer. Remember to match the shadow direction with the light source coming from the windows at the back of the table,
  4. Blur the car shadow layer until it looks about right then add a layer mask and tidy up with the brush tool,
  5. Create a new layer and select a soft brush, black colour and paint in the shadows under the wheels. The previous shadow step leaves the car looking like it’s hovering off the table and painting in a small shadow under the wheels really brings it back down,
  6. I had to cut out the windows too and lost a bit of the sun shield built into the windscreen but I was able to draw the missing bit back in, match the colour, add noise and blur it a bit to make it look like it was always there,
  7. Reflections for objects like this are very tricky but I managed to get a slight bit of a reflection in my shiny table for the wheels using the Transform – Skew & Gradient/Mask Tools.
  8. I then used the Burn (darken) tool to further darken some shaded bits and the Dodge (brighten) tool to make those beautiful chrome and gold strips really pop out,
  9. Next, I duplicated the Table layer and blurred the new one then added a layer mask and gradient to blur behind the car but keep in front in focus, just to give the image better depth,
  10. Finally, to add a bit of mood to the pic, I added a Vignette on top of everything and stuck a layer mask on it then a gradient on the mask to fade it out towards the back of the image,

And after sticking my business logo on the car door (as you do) using Transform – Skew/Warp, here’s the final composition. Like?:

 

Pontiac Trans Am Firebird