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Blondes Have More Fun

This image of Charlie and her horse Alsace was created using Photoshop 6 and Painter 7. Immediately below is the final image. The overall image is 11x14 with the main portion of the image at 6.5x11 inches. It was printed using an Epson 1160 on Epson watercolor paper using Epson inks.
Charlie & Alsace
I scanned the photo into Photoshop at 600dpi at 150%. Below is the original scan.
Charlie & Alsace original scan
The original image is quite busy between the people and the trucks and horse trailers. I decided to get rid of the people and then while I was working on the image in Painter, I felt that the trucks and horse trailers needed to go also. In the image on the left, I used Photoshop to remove the people and used this as my starting image in Painter. The image was resized and resampled down to 300dpi. Using this resized and resampled image, I later created the image on the right in Photoshop, removing the trucks and horse trailers, using this to finish the image.
Charlie & Alsace people removed Charlie & Alsace trucks removed
The image on the left is the sketch I created in Painter.
Charlie & Alsace, initial Painter Sketch Charlie & Alsace, Painter image completed
I then took the image back into Photoshop to composite it on a suitable background. The question was, what would be suitable? Assuming that yellow-green is the predominant color in the Painter image, I used a color wheel to help me determine what color(s) should be used as a background. According to the color wheel, red-violet is the complementary color to yellow-green. I created a background using the gradient tool with 2 shades of red-violet. I didn't like it. Looking at the color wheel again, I chose colors from one side of the split complementary colors(green) and from the triad (blue green). I tried gradients using those colors. I didn't like that either.

I decided to go back into Painter and create a small palette using these color wheel colors. I created a small 4x5inch image that I then hoped to tile to 11x14 back in Photoshop--see the image below.

color wheel background
Below is the color wheel background with texture applied.
color wheel background with texture
The tiling of either the untextured or textured color wheel background looked terrible. I decided to try and resize the image to 11x14 in hopes that it wouldn't look too bad. It looked pretty good but it wasn't quite right as the background for Charlie and Alsace. I decided to sample a couple of the greens from that image and do another gradient to see how that looked (see the image below). It wasn't too bad but it was kind of blah.
background gradient in yellow-greens
I also had a layer in the color wheel background that was squiggles of color. Note that the white areas in the image below would have been transparent.
color wheel background, squiggles
I wondered what would happen if I combined the color wheel background with the yellow-green background. I experimented with different blending options in Photoshop and found that 'color' worked really nicely. It gave me the swirls of the color wheel image and a blend of color with some depth. I then added the color wheel squiggle layer. The layer order from bottom to top is: squiggle layer @50% opacity, textured color wheel layer, yellow-green layer @80% opacity, blend option 'color'.
final background
The last step was to do something with the edges of the Charlie and Alsace image. I created a selection just inside the image using Photoshop's rounded rectangle tool (draw the rectangle, go to the Path palette and choose 'make selection', then save selection). I loaded the saved selection, inversed it and then hit the backspace key to clear.

I created a second selection further inside the image, again using the rounded rectangle tool (saving as above). I loaded the saved selection, again inversing which basically gives a selection of the outer edge of the image.

I added a layer mask (reveal all). Using two shades of grey (foreground = 115/115/1150, background = 128/128/128) and the gradient tool, I drew the gradient line from the top of the selection to the bottom. What this does is to fade the image edge.

Using layer styles, I then applied a drop shadow, bevel and emboss, satin.

Charlie & Alsace close-up showing edge
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