The Calm Before the Storm: Conceptual Photography

They say creativity is like a muscle. I would add, however, that creativity is like a series of muscles. There are many different types of creativity, so you have to exercise several different creative muscles.

The title of this assignment was Conceptual Challenge, and let me tell you, the word “challenge” is painfully accurate here. I have spent the past few months exercising my creative muscles, but I don’t know if I’ve ever used this one in my entire life.

The challenge was to draw three words from bowls marked noun, adjective, and verb. Then, we had to add two of our own words and come up with a conceptual piece of art using photography. The words I drew were comic book, calm, and release. I struggled with these words for days before I moved on to the next step. I could think of a million ways to combine any two of the words, but adding in the third kept tripping me up.

Finally, I decided to edit my photo to look like a comic book. Once I made that decision, I knew that my human subject would need to be a superhero. It wouldn’t really make sense any other way. Next, I decided the hero wouldn’t currently be fighting evil because that wouldn’t be calm. Finally, I thought of things a superhero would release.

Superheroes have to release their secret identity when they go to save the world. They make sacrifices for the good of all. I chose to use glasses to symbolize this because superman hides his secret identity behind glasses (do people honestly not recognize him? I guess that’s a debate for another day).
Next, I decided to add the word “cape” because it is a widely recognized symbol of a superhero (sorry, Edna Mode).

Last, I added the word “storm” to contrast the calm and to give a hint about what our hero is about to run toward.

This is the photo I started with. Props to my roommate/model, Deven for standing in the cold for me. You really are the hero here. By the way, she’s studying journalism and visual communication. You can check out her work here.

The sky looked way cooler in a different direction, but we had to shoot this way because I wanted the cape waving in the wind.

I took a photo of the sky later in the day (when the rain stopped) to get more defined clouds.

Next, I replaced the sky and changed the color of her leotard.

The color replacement was the hardest part. Since the leotard was such a light color to start, the color replacement tool in photoshop didn’t work as well as I hoped. I had to use a layer mask to only under expose that portion of the photo. I learned color replacement when I first tried out portrait photography.

The horizon line, the color replacement, and the selection around her hair weren’t as neat as I would have normally made them, but for the comic book look, they didn’t need to be perfect.

Finally, I made the image look like a comic book.

This was actually way easier than I thought it would be. This tutorial was extremely helpful in figuring out the right effects and settings.

Last, I slapped some text on the image, adding a stroke and drop shadow to make it look like a true comic book.

I had a ton of fun with this project. It stressed me out, but I loved exercising a different creative muscle than usual. It helped me grow as an artist and expand my skills.

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