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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Archive for May, 2009

Photo Collage Portrait – Beta

May 25th, 2009 by Nikki Smith

Photo Collage, Beta

After a long abscence from art, I’m finally making the time to create once more.  Recently I stumbled across the mixed media illustrations of Annette Mangseth and she inspired me to create this portrait of my niece Beta.  While I love the whimsical and captivating style of Annette’s work, I wanted to make this portrait more personal and give it my own sense of style.  I knew that it needed to incorporate music in some way, to represent Beta’s talents and interests.  I began with a nice childhood photograph of my niece and a head full of ideas.  Then the fun began!

Step 1: Find a great photo

Steps in the making of a portrait collage:

My husband Joseph was a great help on this project, providing the musical score and several variations of Beta’s photo using PhotoShop filters as a starting point for the portrait as well as valuable feedback throughout the process.

Variations with Photoshop Filters

I chose a watercolor filter effect on the face for it’s soft colors and simplicity.  Then, I masked out the background of the photo and created a shape for Beta’s new wind-blown hair to replace her up-do on the photo.  This area would later be collaged to compliment the portrait.

photocollage_beta_step3At first, I envisioned collaging white musical notes on black for her hair, like so:


I loved this concept, but it didn’t feel complete.  After moving things around to incorporate a new musical score a “happy accident” occurred.  Instead of covering her hair, the music overlaid her face.  Lovely!

photocollage_beta_step5My next step was to clean-up the rough outline of the hair, smoothing curves and adding a few extra locks on her forehead.  Then I erased her original bangs from the photo.

Next I experimented with several ideas for collage elements to represent her hair.  I was drawn to photos of nature, both my own and ones from my extensive collection of free images.

A thick black outline around her hair and figure helped to define the image.

I had two favorite elements for the hair (trees on a crisp winter day, and a whirlpool galaxy) and just couldn’t choose.  I decided to use both, playing on her name “Beta.”  I flipped one image right-to-left and positioned the girls with their hair overlapping.

photocollage_beta_step6The final step was choosing a background for the collage.  I made a small-scale copy of my collaged Beta’s to experiment with and swapped in dozens of potential backgrounds, from textured papers, fabrics and “found textures” to solid colors and nature scenes.  My favorite was a simple image of clouds and blue sky.  I then switched back to work at full-scale.  I aligned the clouds with Beta’s eyes to draw the viewer’s eyes and as a final touch I added a few stars in the sky.

I am looking forward to creating more custom collage portraits in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Sister Fairies

May 21st, 2009 by Nikki Smith

Sister Fairies, under glass

These darling little angels are my nieces, snug in their nest and testing their wings.  This was created as a gift for my sister.  Their wings are transparencies and the fairies are two-sided so that they can be seen from any angle.  Below is a second view showing the little bird sharing their nest.  Feathers around the bottom complete the theme.

Sister Fairies, view with bird visible

Beautiful augury from Andrea

May 4th, 2009 by Nikki Smith

charm-by-andreaThis beautiful augury was made by my good friend Andrea.  We haven’t had the chance to get together in quite a while.  For my birthday last week, she joined my husband, daughter and I for a delightful lunch and afternoon shopping in the art section of the local book store.  What a fun surprise!

Andrea always has such a good eye for details.  Not only did she create a fabulous augury, she presented it attached to a Magnolia leaf.  Beautiful!

Of course, the best gift of all was spending time with a good friend!