In the last few days, I’ve put the finishing touches to a complex collage of paddy fields. It’s made of tickets and postage stamps (many contributed by kind friends) and maps (including one I used to navigate around Japan, before the advent of smartphones in my life). These elements symbolise travelling over great distances.
I also used Green Shield stamps, which don’t symbolise anything, but which seemed so right for the landscape. Then there’s a bit of ink.
You might remember my first drawing of these steppes, which was a simple version in painted inks, from this post.
Then came this valley, also populated with random stamps.
Now the two ideas come together in a new landscape. I’m really pleased with it: from a distance, I think the details of the stamps and maps make it look like an aerial photograph.
I’ve been fiddling around with placing birds over the top of it*, and then I went away for a while and had the idea of just showing their shadows.
This is all still work in progress, and I am going to have to get the original collage scanned professionally. As you’ll see if you click and view it larger, this is a composite of several scans. Why don’t they ever match up?!
* These are drop shadows, created from the airmail label bird I showed earlier. That took a bit of thinking through: once I decided I wanted the shadows, but not the birds themselves (because the background is so fussy, it’s really hard to make out any detailed birds, no matter what colour they are), I had to figure out how to do that. Make the bird layer invisible, and the shadow becomes invisible too.
In the end, I expanded the canvas, put the birds outside the main frame, pulled the drop shadows way out from their ‘parent’ shapes, then flattened all the layers and chopped off the margin with the actual birds in it.
I bet there’s a more conventional way to do this. As a self-taught Photoshop user, I am aware I often go all around the houses to do something that a pro would be able to do without thinking.