I was messing around in photoshop today, trying to combine tools I don't normally use to get interesting effects - and I came up with a new method for thumbnailing that I'm finding really enjoyable! I don't know how readable these are to others, but as far as generating ideas for my own end they are working perfectly - just depends whether they need to be shown to the client i guess!
Id say i could get through a sheet of maybe 30-40 of these in an hour, although i was going a bit slower today because I was experimenting. Not a bad way to knock over the initial stage of a job - and a big improvement in my own job workflow.
Please click for the bigger version, as these probably wont read very well with aliasing!
Post #2 : So, more of the same method this morning - slowly refining it... heres a small tute for those who asked how im making them!
First, I quickly grab a bunch of photos from my ref folder. Almost anything will do, i just try to avoid big familiar shapes like faces or cars. I drag them all in and resize em in one document to thumbnail size, merge, and desaturate the lot.
Then, starting anywhere i feel like, I grab the PATCH tool and make a ragged, random selection over one of the photos, and drag it to another:
The result is a nice mixture of the two, as you see in the two cases:
After this, the process is just repeated, working with all of the photos at the same time, finding interesting shapes to drag around. I timed again, and each thumbnail takes about 2 minutes - so between 20-40 in an hour (because sometimes you will hit a comp you reall like and you want to spend time noodling it out or developing it).
Here are this morning's products: The ones with the pine trees I did first, the second set I did specifically for a contract I'm on at the moment. I found that when i had a preconvieved requirement (in this case, Cargo Bay), the thumbnails took a bit longer (3-5 mins ea) because i had to reign in some of the ideas that lost their relevance to the topic.
So what I know about the method thus far:
* The patch tool has a unique way of blending, and its faults turn into happy accidents for us painterly bastards. When two values are too polarised, the tool will try to blend them with a soft edge. This creates lots of nice edge variation for us, suggesting light sources and plane changes.
* Unlike a method of just layering photos and hoping for something to pop out, this process becomes creative as soon as you make the first patch. Because it previews the patch destination as you move it around, you can line up areas of value, shapes, lines etc and actually construct your image with intent. The initial patch generally gives you an idea or shape to develop, and after that it is the perfect blend of randomity and intention.
* Achieves a high level of IMPLIED detail very quickly. Very loose, and at any time if you need to strengthen an idea you can just paint directly onto the thumbnail (for instance, in the first set of finals, the barn-like shape top right was all painted).
* Because of the photographic elements, there are a number of perspective errors that need to be cleaned up when you up-res
* Generally will have to scrap a thumbnail or two before sending to clients, as the repeated elements can sometimes be obvious
* Makes it very easy to see a cool new idea not related to the job, and get a bit sidetracked ;)
I know its a very simple technique, but I hope it gives some ideas for anyone who hasn't used the patch tool in this way before!!