Continuing with my design agencies self promotion pieces to get PalbergWERX Creative Direction noticed in this over stimulated communications age, I began work on my second famous artistic image in history. You can read Part 1 in this series HERE.
This time I choose M.C. Escher's work 'Humanity'. Again, there have been numerous imitations and this ribbon type illustration is well known to the general public.
This is a much more challenging project as the illustration is very precise in how it is able to convey the front features of both characters as well as make a believable ribbon that shows both the volume and shape of both heads.
As I mentioned, it was important that the work was now in the creative commons, even if I was not going to use the original work in my promo piece itself. Below is the image that I achieved in my first try at this. In hindsight, I had a few issues that I didn't fix, but will highlight during this article.
The first step is finding a suitable photo - in my case, I wanted two images of myself - but, not mirrored and somewhat posed like the original Escher heads.
In my case, because I don't have long flowing hair - haha - it was easy to mask out my head from the background. This isn't strictly necessary as the vector masks will hide anything outside their area, but it makes it much easier to visualize. Next, I did some basic color correction so that both heads had similar tones and shadows.
Now the fun part. Using the Pen tool I began drawing the ribbon loops for the front side of the heads. Initially, I drew the ribbons very complicated in an attempt to follow the surfaces of both heads, but in the later stages I realized that it made the image less realistic and had to simplify the paths. Either way, you can always add or remove points as required during the entire process. Be sure to close each path before beginning a new one.
I made each path as well as the shapes between them more or less the same size, again this can be adjusted later if necessary. When you've completed your front head paths, select all the paths, and choose Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path.
This will create a Vector Path that can be saved as a mask linked to the image.
Now only the image within the path should be visible. Now is a good time to tweak the path a little, one tip is to bring the end tips of the pat up to help create the volume of the head.
Make another layer behind the front ribbon and fill with with a a tone sampled from the skin. Now you can draw the back of the ribbons as they meet up with each front ribbon. When you are finished, then again when you've completed your front head paths, select all the paths, and choose Layer > Vector Mask > Current Path.
Now is a good time to really look closely at your image and how the front and back ribbons meet up. Use the original reference from Escher to understand how he created his volume. Once you are happy with the ribbon shapes, you can help the volumetric feel by using the burn tool on the edges to create more depth.
So far, this has been pretty easy and the results look great, but there is something missing and that is some depth to the ribbons themselves, so, we need to add some thickness.
Go ahead and hide the back layer and we will begin with the front layer. Make a new layer behind the front layer and load the path for the front ribbon as a selection. With this new selection on this new layer, select Edit > Stroke and choose a thickness that is appropriate for your image - if you don't like the result, then hit 'undo' and stroke it again. Be sure to use the outer edge to stroke (this was a problem that I discovered after having done a lot more work and was never able to really fix afterwards). Next you need to clean up the stroke - it should only be visible from the angle of the viewer - in this case we are looking down on my head and need to delete the bottom and side strokes.
Now this process needs to be repeated for the back ribbon stroke. Hide the back layer (leave the front on so you can see how the stroke will match) and again select Edit > Stroke and choose a thickness that is appropriate for your image. Go ahead and delete the bottom and side strokes of this new layer and they should start looking like a thick ribbon.
Now we want to color the stroke, I used my skin color again. Select the front stroke and using the eye dropper tool to fill it with the skin color. I also use the burn tool on the edges and the dodge to highlight any areas that need it. This is very interpretive. Do the same for the back layer.
I also used the clone tool to grab some detail from the front skin to make it a little more convincing.
Now, for my self promotion, I wanted to put some kitsch light bulbs in my head - you know - to signify that I have an 'idea'. The bulb is a plain light bulb clip art that I put a variety of layer effects as well as painted layers to create the final look.
Because these promo pieces should be fun, I also wanted to play with my logo and in this case carry on with the ribbon concept as well. I began working the text in InDesign, just to find the right font combination as well as a rough layout. I soon realized that writing the text all on a single line would be much too long for the image and the result is that the text would be too small in proportion to the heads, it just wouldn't look right. When I placed the Palberg above the WERX I knew I was then going in the right direction. For the most in control I created a unique layer for each letter and then just moved them around until the composition looked right. Next it was time to customize the type.
I deleted any parts of the type that were going to go behind the WERX lettering. Then I used the pen tool to draw shapes as selections to paint in my letter shadows. I used a large brush and simply painted and erased as I felt necessary to create the feeling of dynamic ribbon type. In some cases, the text does not follow real world logic and areas that should be behind the WERX type is not, just because it was more important to make the text very readable. I think this is more important than being accurate.
I hope you enjoyed and got some valuable insights from this blog post, it took quite a while to write and produce and I would love it if you shared it to your social networks! If anyone has any questions, post them below in the comments and I will be sure to answer them.
Below is the final image
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