Sunday, February 6, 2011

flypaper textures for dummies

a few months ago i started looking into the flypaper texture business. why bother? you're gonna ask. well, i know some people online who spend a lot of time on this and they seem to be making some money from it. i figured i could give it a shot, see if works out for me.

having absolutely no clue as to the process, i looked around on the internet to try to understand how it was done. a few hours into my search, i got this strange uneasy feeling: the whole flypaper texture matter reminded me of the feng shui craze a few years back. everybody talks about it but never in depth. and if you want depth, you gotta pay the piper.
(aaaahhhh, i knew there was a catch somewhere. so really, the money being made is not ultimately from the art itself but from selling the textures. so be it, business is business and people gotta make some money somehow, but i'll be damned if i ever buy a texture. i'm a graphic designer after all.)
what do i mean? well, you gotta buy the texture sets from the masters first, in order to understand and/or follow the tutorials. why? because the textures have esoteric names given to them by the texture masters, you see, names like hawaiian sunset, morning mist and daffodil blue (ok, i'm making these up, but....). so, really, the tutorials are useless without the texture sets. for example, take 'english morning fog' and apply an overlay at 63%.... WTF?

so i studied several pieces of work, different styles from random artists. hey, i'm not the smartest on the planet, but i'm not too stupid either. i figured i'd try to make my own textures in photoshop and applied them to my photos. i tried a few things, sometimes it worked, sometimes it turned out like crap, but i'm getting the hang of it now.
so here is a simple example, step by step, with one photo and 3 textures. i call it 'going dutch'... you'll see why.

here's the original photo, nothing exceptional, i took it on a sunny sunday afternoon just to try my new camera. i like taking pictures of tree reflecting in water, reminds me of the work of atget.

i don't do any color correction except changing from RGB to CMYK. i'm used to preparing images and layouts for print so i automatically work in CMYK. now, you can stay in RGB if you want, but if the finished image is going to get printed, then you'll have to flatten your layers before converting your image to CMYK. if not, BIG surprise. try it, you'll see. (yep, there is a huge difference between adding 3 colors to get black and adding 3 colors to get white).

then comes the hard part: choosing the textures to apply and mess around with the fusion modes for each layer. here, i used 3 textures, which i created in photoshop, and i only worked with one kind of fusion : linear burn.

i'm showing you the textures below so you can try to make them yourselves. no fancy names either.

fiber-like texture to which i applied a linear burn 54% plus a yellow photo filter

old paper texture with linear burn 100%

dirty pastel texture with linear burn 73% and a horizontal flip

and here is the result going dutch, like the great atget got possessed by rembrandt:

pretty simple, really. like i said, the most complicated part is to make your own textures. or you can always buy them... not from me tho.

Want to see more examples of textured photos ? Go check out my other blog. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


i wrote this some 15 years ago. kinda had forgotten all about it until about a year or so, when i cleaned up my floppy disk box (yes, i know... old).
the magi, epiphany, a good time to share this, i thought.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

- W.H Auden

the wise men walk in the night. the winter wind cuts their faces, their nerves. where the hell are we? and what the hell are we doing? Melchior sings, to frighten the demons. Gaspar's mind wanders, wonders. Balthasar remembers the poem ... i've always been fascinated by these words of auden. i've pondered their meaning but to no avail. until now ... perhaps! "perhaps" is the key word: the uncertainty of our desires, the naiveté of our perception and yet the continual search, the constant doubts, the underlying hope which preserves us and guides us upon our respective paths. the utterance of the hope is what matters but our fears always force us to add "perhaps" ... as if it mattered! of course the roses want to grow. they do. and of course the vision intends to stay. it endures, even. and i am letting you know. even though that is the promise--or the belief?-- of a different world. the promise of a child, when she tells you a secret. or the belief of a child when he asked "where does the wind come from?" ... as if the child didn't know! but we adults too often rush into some explanation, only to hide our ignorance. the child only asked a rhetorical question ...

the wise men walk in the night. they follow the star, the hope, the promise. to what? a child in a cave, stinking, crying, demanding, pure, lonely, frightened ... the christ who cries out from the cross to a father he never kissed. the nights are cold and biting in the desert, the sand chilled by the ruthless wilderness. with this surrealist scenery in the background, they advance the sages of the east towards a destiny beyond belief. i wonder what their conversations might have been. perhaps (yes!) they ask each other about the roses, the vision ... only to arrive at the cave. the roses? i only see weeds. the world in its blindness so thinks. but the magi know that the child is the rose. the soft petals of his cheeks, the obvious thorns of his cries, the fragility of his youth, the beauty of his potential, of the years to come. and the vision stays. the star still adorns our nights. we tend to forget it though. we have too many lights in our nights, and not enough wilderness. so much fear that we confuse knowledge with supposition, doubt with hope.

the wise men walk in the night. the city lies in the distance. bethlehem. and a star, the silent witness of the birth, the mute herald of the miracle, the hand that reaches out, slightly touching, ever faithful, ever watchful, like the lover's eyes upon his asleep companion. he touches her, soft, light, amorous, and she lets her lips grant him a smile. she doesn't talk; she doesn't want to break the spell. her head rests heavy upon his chest. she is at peace, in peace, in his peace. that was better than any word. he loves her. and he knows she loves him.

the wise men walk in the night ... and they are met by god. bethlehem and the lovers have fallen asleep.