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Fanart Rework Thread by Ciderdrinker

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  • Fanart Rework Thread by Ciderdrinker


    I've decided to start a project where I rework some of the art I made when I was starting out and I thought I'd share this journey with all of you.

    Mostly I'll be working on the ones I look at now and cringe, and I will add a critique of my work, what's wrong with it, why I cringe when I look at it now etc. Then I will add the reworked version and what I did to improve it. This may not always work out, the reworked versions should be better than the originals (because I have many more photoshop skills than I had when I made them) but that doesn't mean the reworked pieces will actually be any good either.

    Please feel free to add your own critique of the original and the rework. Be as harsh as you like I won't be offended because I believe the originals are really terrible anyway.

    I hope you enjoy seeing me revisit my early fanart days, and hopefully I will end up with some new pieces that I'm actually proud of

    I first started using Photoshop in 2006, and the art that I created are all saved to my computer in year folders, so I want to do at least a couple from each year between 2006 and 2009 when I stopped making them so often.

    Anyone who wants to join in and rework your own pieces, fell free to post them in here as well if you're brave enough

    Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor

  • #2
    So the first one I've worked on is this monstrosity from 2006

    Click image for larger version  Name:	AI Team a.jpg Views:	0 Size:	130.5 KB ID:	720887
    Click the link for the full size

    I can remember thinking that this was pretty good, when I made it, but now when I look at it, it's just so, so, so very bad. It's basically just one image that's been repeated in different places and the edges softened, then the main image plonked on top, filters added, some text added, and there you go done! Now I spend quite a lot of time thinking about what I want to achieve before I even open the computer and choose the images. Back then I guess I saw something in the show I wanted to art, and grabbed the nearest screencap and just played with it.

    So let's start with the good
    • I do kinda like the comic book vibe I'm getting from this, and especially the way that the light is showing on Wesley.
    • The composition is ok, but that's because it's basically 1 image and so the composition was set up by the director of that episode not me. And that's it, there's nothing else positive I can say about it
    (I've just checked who the director was, and it turns out it was David Boreanaz no less!)

    Now for the bad
    • There is no thought put into this at all. I mean,1 image repeated cannot be construed as an original piece of fanart in my opinion? At least some of the other early pieces had a concept of some kind. Not with this one though.
    • The filters - too harsh, inappropriate and ruins the image. I was addicted to filters when I started out so they're everywhere in my early stuff. The use of filters shows me that I didn't know what I wanted with this piece so was just putting stuff over the image to give it a new look.
    • The colours are soo muddy, but worst of all Lorne's face is red???? and Fred's shirt is green (it was actually red in the screencap). The overall yellow tone is ugly
    • Poor Gunn, he looks like he's got a Zombie eye, the filters have completely obliterated his real features

    When I came to rework this, there were instantly some issues. I don't have the original PSD, so I can't do anything about the filters, without reworking the piece with the original image. I did have the original screenshot so I tried to think of anything that I could come up with to use the image in a more creative way, but nothing sparked. It's only one image so there's not really much I can do to sort out the composition. And as the generally idea behind the piece was non-existent anyway, there was nothing to keep me interested. So I decided not to start from scratch and try and just fix what was already created.

    First I added a reduce noise filter over the whole image, which gave it a a less pixelated overall look, but it still looked rubbish. However, the effect of the noise reduction emphasised the comic book vibe I liked, so I then played around with the poster edges filter, but that just lost the details in the faces even more. So I decided to use the smudge tool to give it a more painterly look. I concentrated on only the 4 persons, I didn't want to do the whole image as it would take me too long, and frankly wouldn't be worth it. That worked out ok, but the back ground was still really "noisy" to I ran another reduce noise on the background. I tried fixing the colours but they were irretrievable so I eventually took the original screenshot set it to colour blending mode and masked out the edges so at least Lorne was Green again and Fred's shirt was red again. That made the whole image better, but the yellows were still to vibrant. So I ran a Camera Raw filter over it to reduce the saturation and vibrancy. And at that I called it a day.

    I think it still looks crap, but I think it's better than it was...

    Click image for larger version  Name:	The AI Team.jpg Views:	0 Size:	14.0 KB ID:	720888
    Last edited by ciderdrinker; 10-07-21, 02:36 PM.

    Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor


    • #3
      I *love* the idea of this thread ciderdrinker and I'm definitely going to come back (hopefully later today) to have a good look at this first piece you've put up.

      Reworking old pieces is something I've wondered about doing myself as I was really poor at managing saturation and contrast in my earlier pieces and although I've not probably moved on much in my art, that is something that really irritates me when I look at my earlier pieces.


      • #4
        The re-worked image does look better. It still has that comic feel, but is much cleaner and you can tell what colour everything is. How long did it take you?

        I also love this thread idea and can't wait to see what else you do.


        • ciderdrinker
          ciderdrinker commented
          Editing a comment
          It took a few hours. Some of that was time wasted playing around with filters and not getting anywhere.

        • ciderdrinker
          ciderdrinker commented
          Editing a comment
          The smudge effect can take a really long time, but this was quite quick compared to other pieces I've done as it was only Angel where I had to take the time because his features were clearer and he's closer to camera

      • #5
        Thanks for the feedback, delighted that you like the idea.

        I'm just starting to think about the next one, and I've got 5 options from my 2006 folder that I can't decide which one to choose, so I thought I'd ask you for advice. Let me know which ones from the links below you'd like to see done the most.

        (I don't seem to have many Buffy related art in 2006, not sure why)

        Only One Who Can -
        Save Your Own -

        Unrequited -
        Your Wife -
        Mei mei -


        Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor


        • Priceless
          Priceless commented
          Editing a comment
          My least favourite is Unrequited

        • Stoney
          Stoney commented
          Editing a comment
          I think I'd be most interested in what you'd do with either Save Your Own or Unrequited.

      • #6
        I also really like the idea of this thread. There is so much stuff I've made that makes me cringe a bit when I look back on it, and that I'd love to redo, but don't have time for. So now I'll just enjoy that experience vicariously.

        I agree that the original image isn't great. Gunn's zombie look and Lorne being red immediately catch the eye, and Wesley doesn't look very healthy either. But overall I do really like the vibrant colours; I like them more than the dull (though more realistic) colours of the reworked version. The reworked version looks more smooth and less noisy, which is nice, but unfortunately Gunn still has his zombie eye and something seems to be wrong with the placement of one of Lorne's horns. But overall, I'd say it does look a bit better than the original version.

        For your 2006 batch, my vote goes to Unrequited. It looks like it has a lot of potential to be turned into something better looking. (Actually I think it doesn't look so bad in its current form; there are several things I quite like about it.)
        Last edited by Double Dutchess; 16-07-21, 08:06 AM. Reason: typo


        • #7
          So Unrequited was the winner, and over the past week I've played with it and I think I'm happy enough now to share the results.


          What I like
          The idea behind it is still cool. I am a Mal/Inara shipper so a piece dedicated to them still appeals. If I remember correctly, I wanted her to be looking at him, but him not seeing her look, so I quite like the way there's a connecting light streak to join them anyway, and the colour palette is nice and warm for a romantic piece.

          What I don't like
          Mainly it's that the words and the images don't connect. The images are not from the episode that they were said in and don't convey the emotion of the scene. I also don't like the composition (Inara's eyes should be looking at Mal's face but with this composition she's looking at his scalp instead), text placement, texture used and the font used on the upper text. Also, I'm a big fan of empty space in my pieces and this has none of that.

          So when I looked at reworking this piece I had to decide whether to recreate the original using the same images or use different ones. As I said above one of my main issues with the original is that the images don't fit the text, and the emotion of the words was one of the things I did like about the original, so I decided to use new images that suited the text better.

          Unrequited (v2)

          I went through screenshots from the actual episode and there were suitable ones of Mal and Inara (in the final scene if anyone's interested), but I still didn't feel an image of each of them was really correct. I felt it should be Inara and Nandi in the piece as the conversation was between them. Also I felt it needed Inara falling apart to undercut the "I'll be fine" line. So I chose 3 images from the episode and went from there.

          I took a loooong time working out the composition on this, but once I found something that was working the main thing I needed to do was harmonise the images. The brightness and contrast was a little different in all of them. A great trick to sort out this I learned from YouTube is to add a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer (with the saturation turned to zero) at the top of your layer stack so everything is in black and white. When you can see your image in black and white it makes it much easier to see the tonal values without the colour distracting you. In this piece I had to adjust each image to get them so they looked lit in the same way, because the one of Inara crying was lit so much more brightly - I had to tone that down, but also lighten the others so they worked together.

          I'm not overly happy with the fact that Nandi is sharper that Inara and the focus is on her but sharpening that image didn't work to match it up so I decided to leave it that way.

          I played around with the text placement, and it's ok I suppose. It doesn't flow with the composition - you read Inara's line before Nandi's which makes no sense - but I stuck with it because, like always, I never think about the text when I create the composition so it's always an after thought. That's basically why I rarely use text these days. Anyway, after the text placement I decided I was done.

          Skip onto the next day, and it's bugging me that I didn't challenge myself enough to work with the original images. How could it be a rework, when it's basically all new except the text? So I decided to try again with the images of Mal and Inara.

          Unrequited V3

          When I looked at these images I cursed my younger self for choosing them because I made my life harder from the start. They're really close up shots, so both images had hard edges (flat heads, I call them) which needed to be hidden, so that forced me to a top corner composition (one that I favour anyway so not that wasn't much of an issue). I thought that it would be good to have them connected even though Mal's not looking at her, so I masked away enough of each image so it looked kinda like their cheeks were merged with each other (both images set to screen to help that). I used the hue and saturation trick mentioned above and it was obvious that the lighting was very different in each image. Mal's was softer and from below him, Inara's was harder and from above. Normally, I would stay away from these kind of issues because it just makes it harder to deal with, but I was resigned to use the same images, so had to sort that out.

          It was mostly Inara needing to match Mal because I preferred the lighting on Mal, so I added Curves, Selective Colour and Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers to just her image to get her to match closer with Mal. I then added some brightness to the bright parts of their faces and darkness to the darker parts where they merged to give the image more dynamism. (I love a bit of chiaroscuro)

          I then added a light leak to replace the streak of light that I liked in the original to give a new light source to their faces and a gradient map to warm up the colours like in the original. I chose some of the text and placed it, setting one of the fonts with the outer glow like the original.

          I'm fairly pleased with both pieces. I think I prefer the colouring and the light on V3, but the emotion on V2 so not sure which one I think is the more successful rework. I don't really like the text on either of them, but that might be my issue with text in general.

          I hope you are enjoying my detailed analysis of this project. I know it's a lot to read, so I hope it's not too ramble-y.

          Let me know what you think of the reworks and which one you prefer.

          Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor


          • #8
            Originally posted by ciderdrinker View Post
            So Unrequited was the winner, and over the past week I've played with it and I think I'm happy enough now to share the results.
            I was surprised at how different you made your new versions. I have to applaud your ability to take the same idea and try markedly different directions. When I look at old pieces and consider what I'd do differently, it tends to be less dramatic in the shifts.

            I was somewhat hampered in understanding the pieces and the connections between text and images as I didn't know what was being referred to. I have seen Firefly, but only once about ten years ago. So I google searched the text you used and read through a transcript of Heart of Gold to remind myself of the context.

            My initial disappointed that you had chosen to lose the warm romantic colouring of the original changed once I'd read the episode. I actually think it is quite a bleak moment for Inara and the darker hues makes a lot more sense. I also agree Inara's gaze in the original going above Mal doesn't work so well for the emotion of the moment/text.

            In your first revised version, I really like your image choices. I think you have very much 'corrected' that disconnect that you wanted to reconsider between image and text. The moment of realisation on Nandi's face and the quiet upset on Inara's are a great depiction of the moment. I'm not sure about the additional image of Inara's upset on learning about Nandi/Mal because it is so much smaller. I think it works as her repressed emotional response, against what she is outwardly showing, but think the balance would perhaps work better overall if it was a bit bigger. But still kept 'under' her outward, quiet response. The only other thing that stood out to me as a weaker element was the text placement following quite hard lines and so close around Inara's face. As you say, it doesn't flow with the composition so well. I also find 'I'll be fine' quite hard to read (that could be my screen of course). But I really do like the inclusion of the third picture with the text there, for undercutting the front she is presenting as you suggested.

            Really appreciate the tip about harmonising the images and I think you've done a great job with it. I do think the pic of Nandi does draw attention because of that additional sharpness, but her reaction to 'seeing' Inara's feelings despite her trying to conceal them is the 'big' moment so I think it works anyway. It also means you potentially read the text with Nandi first, then move over to Inara, which then has the viewer reading it in the order it happened, even though they are placed the opposite way around. To make the gazes work you were right to have Nandi looking at Inara in realisation as Inara looks away. For me the reorder of the text still works anyway, even if it is read left to right. I really like the softness you've given to the images too. It works well with it being a moment of both sad reflection and realisation. I also think the chiaroscuro lighting is a great choice for the revelation aspect of the moment and it being focused on the emotional responses.

            It was interesting to see your second revised version, trying to use the original images too. Again, the tips and ideas on how to combine images and make them more cohesive are great. I think I find the heads floating freely but being connected a bit distracting (in a Quirrell/Voldemort kind of way), but I really like the idea of using light to connect them again. The hues work well in this piece too, but I think that the meaning of the moment in the text is a little lost. That doesn't mean it still doesn't work as a piece of course. But with Inara's expression, and the heavy use of light, it looks more like a piece looking at hope and potential. As if coming to understand her own feelings is making her view him differently and it is a positive realisation. As a shift against the sadder version before it is an interesting contrast.

            Personally speaking, I prefer the second for capturing the moment that goes with the text. But I really like seeing it swung into having a whole different feel in the third. It is fascinating to see three pieces so different that all come from the same initial scene/idea. Thank you for sharing this process and your thoughts, and for the great tips and ideas of what you did.


            • #9
              Wow, thanks for taking the time for such a in-depth feedback Stoney . It's really, really appreciated. It's amazing to me to see other people's take on something that you've worked on. I have to say you see more depth and layers in them than I do .

              I absolutely love that you saw the darker tone in the first re-worked version as reflective of the scene. I would like to say it was totally intentional, but I really can't say that, it's a fluke. I tend to make quite dark pieces generally when it comes to using screenshots. I guess TV shows are lit to be have natural lights and darks and therefore the images tend to be a lot darker than studio shots, so my fanart reflects that rather than a conscious decision. When I'm using promos or stocks of people they tend to be lighter in tone because they're generally more evenly lit. Or I do a dark piece because I chose them for the difference in shadows and light (chiaroscuro again, see!). Totally agree with the text. I actually think it would be better off without it all together.

              I never noticed the Quirrell/Voldemort connection with the 2nd rework composition, but now I look at it that's really quite obvious. The floating head thing is a problem when choosing screenshots that are so close up, you get great detail of the features/emotion but that's all you get, so I don't often use them now. You are of course right that the overall effect of the light leaks and the warmer tone makes it feel happier and more hopeful. This is why the original didn't really work (on top of the bad image choice), the words are reflecting a time when Inara was really sad but brave, and yellows and oranges and light don't fit with that. I do like the tones and light in the 2nd rework, but if we take away the reference to Heart of Gold and see it as just a wistful "look how much they love each other but never actually said it" piece, the colours, light and images work fine.

              I have a week off work next week, so I'm hoping to do another of these reworks. Maybe this time I'll try re-working one that has good bones (concept/images choice etc), just poor technique and see if I can come up with something that is radically different

              Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor


              • Stoney
                Stoney commented
                Editing a comment
                It's been really interesting seeing you rework a piece and sharing the process. I hope in future I can do the same myself and really look forward to seeing any others that you do.