Started Nov 19, 2004 | Discussions thread
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Pam R Veteran Member • Posts: 3,421

This may not be strictly "Dragan-like". But it's Dragan influenced. What I like about Dragan's style is the artistic way he creates an unreal reality in his images. They are real, they are photographic, yet there's something "off" in his images that draws you to them. The coloring, the lighting, the shading and the subjects all combine to create a fantastical atmosphere.

With that idea in mind, I re-worked Dirk's image into this:

I'll try to explain as best I can how I did this and maybe you can pick up a tip or two to use on your own images.

My Dragan-ish technique

Here's the original image:

The first thing I did was lower the saturation, adjust the colors and contrast and added a bit of blur. This blurred layer I will use in a later step:

Next I tried to make a mask by increasing the saturation of the original image to garish levels:

But when I checked the channels, I found an interesting effect on the green channel. The saturation increase had revealed a lot of facial "character":

So I placed a copy of the green channel on top of the original with the blend mode set to Soft Light which brought out a lot of facial detail and some needed contrast, but it was a bit too blocked up in the dark areas:

To counter the darkness, I merged the layers and ran Shadow/Highlights:

At this point I thought I had a good candidate for a black and white conversion, which I then toned:

I placed a copy of this black and white on top of the previously mentioned blurred layer, set the blend mode to Luminosity and lowered the opacity:

Then I started coloring. I painted the skin tones on empty layers set to Overlay, color and Soft Light mode and playing with the opacities. No rhyme or reason as to which mode, just whatever seemed to work best with each color:

Here is one of the colors I used to give you an idea:

Here I adjusted colors and contrast again and added a bit of texture from a photo of a grungy wall to the overall image:

I then did some "light painting" by filling a layer with black, adding a layer mask and painting in the highlights with a black brush:

Here is the mask. As you can see there is nothing very dramatic going on, just a subtle highlighting:

After some dodging and burning:

And, after a bit more adjusting of the background, colors and contrast, here's the final image:

I'd love to hear what you think. Previous responses have come up with ideas that I've incorporated into this image. It helps a lot to have fresh eyes and minds going over it. And you folks are the best around with this kind of thing!

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'art is working on something 'til you like it...then leaving it that way'

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