art photoshoppery

I Made Some Business Cards

I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for ages now and I’ve finally fulfilled it, but as it is with every project, I never anticipate how much work it will be.  The rule of thumb is that you estimate how much time it will take and then you multiply it by 3.  Welp.  I just worked my ass off.

I have an assignment that I give to my students called “I Am Art.”  They find a piece of art, dress up, set the background, pose, and take a picture.  Let’s take the Mona Lisa as an example.  You’d get a wig, dark top or dress, (I’ve had guys do the Mona Lisa before and it’s awesome.) cobble together some brilliant background or go actually find a background in nature that looks very similar, set the lighting, frame it, (not as in a wooden frame, but as in lining up the composition so that it’s composed the same) take a deep breath, and take about 50 photos hoping one of them will be right.  So many things matter: facial expression, angle of head, tilt of head, angle of body, angle of light, light contrast, colors, placement of hands, shoulders, legs…  You have to have a very patient and loving person help you, not to mention that this person needs a sharp eye and it doesn’t hurt if they’re a perfectionist.  If your partner *isn’t* patient or *doesn’t* have a sharp eye… then you need some photoshop skills.

Now, I have a husband with a sharp eye though he *may* be lacking in the patience category from time to time.  Still, I consider myself fortunate.  In addition, I’m a photoshopper and a perfectionist.  My project: Re-create Joseph Ducreux’s infamous meme portrait, Self-Portrait with a Mocking Expression.  Man, I wish he could come back from the dead just for a day to see what’s become of his painting.

Ducreux Recreation
Before and After

I’ve been planning to do this for about 3 years.  I collected props from thrift stores: hat, coat, shirt.  I had the scarf and held a dowel rod for the cane.  Purchased a wig from Amazon.  All in all, probably cost about $40.  Set up a green screen and posed for about 20 photos.  OH – forgot to mention that I donated the hat back to goodwill so I had to borrow a hat from a neighbor.  It was really very cowboy-y and didn’t work as well as the hat-that-I-bought-from-a-thriftstore-for-the-project-but-sat-on-the-project-for-so-long-that-I-forgot-that-I-needed-it-and-donated-it-back-hat, but it worked.

So yeah.  Probably a good solid 10 hours of photoshop.  Warping, scaling, color adjusting, dodging, burning, cutting, pasting, rubber stamping.  Started off really unhappy, wound up pretty damn happy.

I am Ducreux
Original and my Recreation.

The post is getting a bit long, but if anyone wants any more details about what I did to make this happen, just shoot me a line.

Be fruitful and multiply,


By sueanne

Artist and videographer, sort of.