|Date:||November 13, 1997|
|Tools:||An unknown HP color scanner and Jasc Paint Shop Pro 4.12 on a Dell Dimension XPS Pro200n running Windows NT 4.0|
In November of 1997, my company, Unitech, was having a contest to design a T-shirt for the upcoming company fishing trip (they had apparently done this once before, and had fun with it, for a Catalina trip just before I joined the company). You were allowed to submit any artwork you wanted, in any format you wanted. Somehow, I came up with the idea to do the above crazy image.
Actually, I do remember what one impetus was, and I'll start my discussion of the elements that went into the above composite with that. The company's 1996 Christmas party occurred during the height of the "Macarena" craze, and there were multiple rounds of the awful song and dance (with many photos taken documenting this). Now, I don't know what the conversation was that brought it up, but for some reason my coworker Gordon made the statement that he would never be caught dead doing the Macarena. Again, not sure how the conversation went, but for some reason, my coworker Anthony was inspired by his statement to forge a photo of him doing just that and post it on the "Fun" page of our website.
Anthony took this photo from the Christmas party of Gordon and his wife (this is a new scan since Anthony didn't save his original element files; click this JPEG for a PNG of the uncropped image):
plus this photo of Unitech employees and friends doing the Macarena, including a guy named Stan in white vest and grey pants (click this JPEG for an uncropped PNG):
and made this hybrid picture in Photoshop, with Gordon's head replacing Stan's (I only have this JPEG -- the original non-lossy file has apparently been lost to the sands of time):
Anthony's forgery was a big hit, which I guess is what prompted me to try my hand at one. Even more amusing, I thought, would be to make a forgery which incorporates another forgery as one of its elements. That is, I'd take "Gorstan" (the unholy hybrid of Gordon and Stan) from Anthony's picture and use him as an element in mine.
I did some image searching on the web and came up with some good additional elements for my fishing trip design. There was a JPEG featuring a dock laden with dead fish (as a vegetarian, I wasn't that enthused with the idea of a fishing trip, explaining why a horror theme emerged in my design) that seemed like it'd make a good background after it was enlarged a bit:
I also liked this JPEG of a very large fish someone had caught (though unfortunately the fish's tail was cut off in the picture):
I wanted to incorporate a sea monster of some kind, perhaps one that's peeved at the human interlopers carting away his fish. I settled on this GIF of a museum figure of the Creature From The Black Lagoon:
Going to work, I figured the best way to prepare for compositing the different elements in Paint Shop Pro (which I believe I'd been using a trial version of up through this time, but which impressed me enough as a low-cost Photoshop Jr. that I bought a copy during this project) was to erase the background of each element, replacing it with a "green screen". Here's the isolated Gorstan (click this JPEG for a PNG version):
Unfortunately this was before PSP adopted Photoshop-style multi-layer support, and I don't think there was proper alpha compositing either, so it was tricky to decide how much shadow or defining outline to include, but the above is what I ended up with. Next is the isolated fish, including a new tail I'd drawn in to replace the missing one (click this JPEG for a PNG version):
And finally here's the isolated Lagoon Creature, with his obscured right foot and top of head drawn in (click this JPEG for a PNG version):
Now putting all these elements together was not easy, since this was my first attempt at doing a real photo composite and because PSP 4 was really not cut out for this sort of thing to the extent that Photoshop was, and is. As I said, PSP didn't have layers support at this time, so once I placed an element, it was there for good. To get Gorstan's arm to overlap the fish so he'd appear to be holding it, I had to paste on the fish, obliterating Gorstan underneath it, and then paste on top of that the portion that had been covered over, which I did by previously selecting the appropriate section of Gordon by hand with the lasso tool (and I saved that as a Paint Shop Pro selection file, which you can take a look at if you have PSP).
In any case, I got the stuff comoposited over the slightly-stretched background, painted in some shadows, and added the "URI FISHING TRIP '97" caption with a horror font. I'll repeat the finished result, "Gorstan vs. the Creature", here (you can click this JPEG or the copy above for a PNG file of the original -- the title caption, especially, looks a lot nicer without the lossy compression):
I don't think too many people would be fooled into thinking this is a real photo (Anthony certainly did a better job on that score, though his task was much smaller and he had the real McCoy, Photoshop, at his disposal), but all in all I think it's a pretty good job for a first try, considering I had no training, had read little of the documentation, and was trying to get it done as quickly as possible since I was doing it on work time.
As an optional back side for the T-shirt, I did this logo using Microsoft Word Art and the font "Touch Of Nature", which I found on the web (those are bubble-blowing fish in some of the letters -- if you like, you can click this small PNG file for a double-sized version where this is more apparent, or download the Word 95 document):
So... what happened!? Did I win the T-shirt design contest? Well, no, afraid not (though by rights I should have). What happened was, everyone loved my design and thought it was hilarious (with the possible exception of Gordon, who saw moderately less humor in it ). All the young people in the office were totally on board and voted for it. However, while the, um, "not young" people liked it just as much, more than one of them made the comment "...but I wouldn't be caught dead wearing it". So the old fogies wimped out and the winner of the contest was Richard, who traced a clipper ship for the front of his shirt:
and traced a cartoon shark from a surf brand sticker belonging to one of his children for the back:
Bleah. I mean, not that his design wasn't reasonably aesthetically pleasing -- we voted for our three favorite shirts, and it got one of my votes (though that was before I found out he'd just traced both illustrations) -- but the results of the voting very clearly illustrated the principle of Lowest Common Denominator. Ironically, this wasn't the first time I'd lost a T-shirt design competition due to not being bland enough, but that's a story for another page...
The other non-geriatric employees and I talked about getting my design printed up as a T-shirt on our own, but we didn't follow through. BTW, in case you're wondering, Anthony also submitted a Photoshop job for this contest, a clever design where he grafted employee faces onto the bodies of fish, with punny fake species names (I appeared as a "Hairring"), but it too was apparently too outré for the mass taste.
|Dan Harkless Last modified: November 20, 2002||Validated HTML 4.01 Transitional|