From Grab to Fab

tuli_not Sometimes I’ll take a ho-hum grab shot and think, ‘Hmm, maybe I can have some fun with this in post.’ That’s when I put on my artist/illustrator cap and dive into Photoshop.

The other day I spied my dog flopped at the top of the stairs. It was of those “shoot-cute” moments, so I dashed off to get my camera hoping he wouldn’t change position.

He didn’t budge until after the flash popped.

Here’s the original grab shot…

Dog At the Top of the Stairs

He wasn’t really fazed by the flash, but by the time I zoomed in for a close-up he’d flopped his head to the side. This looked even sillier to my eye, and the words “toon time” appeared overhead in a thought bubble.

Dog At the Top of the Stairs

I wasn’t bothered by the bad lighting since I knew nobody (except my wife) would see the snaps. I just wanted to fiddle in the darkroom. Heck, even the big ugly shadow might work to my advantage. I knew I wanted to emphasize the yellow walls, saturate the color to its full cartoon potential.

I was also thinking of type and one particular font I knew I’d have to use—Alix2.

As for the photos, I didn’t have time to reset my ISO, nor take the flash off-camera. Sometimes you’re better off simply switching to Auto mode so your DSLR becomes an instant digicam.

But here’s the tip: don’t sweat a technically inferior shot. Find a way to use it in the manner of a rough sketch. It can be a design element, the basis for a layout, or an experiment in color.

Just don’t show the original to anyone.



Anyhow, my poodle got a trim last night so he doesn’t look like a Muppet. My wife thinks he now resembles a “terrier-dactyl.”