Sunday, January 30, 2005

How Not To Colorize An Image

Someone flattered me by asking how I did the skintones in my second-place entry in Worth's most recent Pleasantville contest. Rather than do a one-off reply, here's the non-tutorial for all to share.

STEP 1: Use the wrong software. I use Corel PhotoPAINT. It's a damned fine program; I won't go into the various reasons why I usually like using it better than Photoshop. But the layer blend modes sometimes act differently from those in Photoshop, meaning that I can't use Cyn's marvelous tutorial effectively. Steveo's tutorial never really clicked for me; the skintones seem to end up unrealistic. I don't know if that's PhotoPAINT's fault or mine; anyway, I had to figure it all out for myself.

In other words, what I tell you here may or may not work in Photoshop. If you're a Photoshop user, where I say "opacity," think "transparency," and reverse the percentages (7% opacity = 93% transparency). But it's the layer blend modes that might hose you. If what I say doesn't work, try a different one.

STEP 2: Walk away from your work -- for a year. I started the "Colonel Hogan" colorization for round 3 of Worth's Intramurals, only to find out we didn't need me to enter that round. Dang. (Don't you wish I had anyway, arsi?) Over a year later I resurrected it for "Pleasantville 13".

STEP 3: Okay, let's get serious. I started with a nice, simple studio portrait -- not a lot of detail to worry about, which let me stress over the skintones without taking much away from anything else. Here's a small version of it. (For reasons I can't recall -- maybe I started out by playing with Steveo's tutorial again -- I edited the image in CMYK mode.)

STEP 4: Initial color. The next thing I did was applied a lens (Corel's equivalent to a Photoshop adjustment layer) set to do color balancing. The color settings were:
  • cyan--red set to +70 (scale runs from -100 to 100)
  • magenta--green set to -17
  • yellow--blue set to -60
After applying a mask to limit the effect to the skintones, it looked like this.

STEP 5: Making it real. All well and good -- but the hue is the same everywhere, and nobody's skin is like that. I applied some 'blush' using red on a new layer, with the blend mode set to 'soft light' at 43% opacity. The difference is particularly noticable in the cheeks, ears and lips, but as you can see here (layer over a white bkgd, set to 'normal' layer blend and 100% opacity), it went elsewhere as well. Iris color also went on this layer, for no good reason. Here's the result.

STEP 6: Making it realer. This is subtle, I grant you, but when you're competing at Worth sometimes it's the little things that make the difference. On a new layer, set to 'hard light' and 9% opacity, some blue over the prominent vein in his left hand. (Here's what the layer looks like on its own, again over a white bkgd, set to 'normal' layer blend and 100% opacity.) In the interests of bandwidth I'll link the result rather than show it, but you can also see Hogan's hand in the picture following Step 8.

STEP 7: Eyes aren't white. I next put a dab of red in both corners of each eye, on a layer set at hard light, 14% opacity. Again, to save bandwidth, I won't show it on this page; here's the layer, and here's the result. Or you can just look at the results for Step 8.

STEP 8: Beards aren't pink. On the next layer, set at soft light, 44% opacity, I put some dark gray over his 5:00 shadow and eyebrows. (Same as before: the layer over a white bkgd, set to 'normal' layer blend and 100% opacity.) The result:

STEP 9: Final tweak. After adding color to the rest of the image, I walked away -- not for a year this time, but for a good half hour. When I came back, poor Colonel Hogan looked like he'd gotten himself a tan using QT. In other words, he was way too orange. I applied another color balance lens, using the same mask I used in Step 4, this time shifting the cyan--red slider toward cyan and the yellow--blue slider toward blue. The final result was the silver trophy winner.

Can't end this without throwing a dozen roses to Eury for her marvelous first-place image. :)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Hello, Nurse!

Kristi starts her paid training at the Blood Center on February 14. Valentine's Day? Two reasons to celebrate!

Congratulatory gift suggestions are welcome in the comments section. The first person who mentions nursing bras is out of here, though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Crossed Up

Well, the Red Cross didn't take Kristi's blood, but they didn't offer her a job, either. It turned out to be another interview. It seems that they essentially put her interview process on hold until some paperwork creating new positions found its way through the system, meaning they haven't even gotten around to checking her references yet (she first interviewed with them late last year). Now that they're interested in her again, they're starting from scratch. Sigh.

But never fear! That money you donated in the wake of Hurricane Hugo in 1989 is almost in North Carolina. These things take time.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Red Cross Your Fingers

The Red Cross called, and wants to see Kristi tomorrow morning. I suppose it's possible that they have job applicants come down to tell them in person that "No, we're not going to hire you, but since you're here anyway, would you like to donate blood?" But I think it's slightly more likely that they'll offer her a job. To which I say, "Yay!"

Friday, January 21, 2005

Guilt No More

When I moved to my new cube, back around Thanksgiving, I displaced the previous occupant, Steve H***. It's a window cube, and thus in what amounts to the high-rent district. Steve had to move out to make room for me because of office politics (the short, not necessarily true version is that I outranked him; the more complex answer has to do with the fact that we're under different managers, who engaged in various cube-swapping activities in order to ensure that nobody was happier than anybody else).

Steve H*** moved to a non-window cube catty-corner to mine, which means that I have to see him every day. And I'm sure he occasionally looks over here and thinks, "That ass bumped me out of my primo cube, and now he's sitting there browsing the Worth1000 forums." So of course I feel guilty about him having to move, even though I didn't arrange it personally.

This afternoon, Val Anderson popped by my cube to pick up her CDFFL winnings. (I've always liked Val; she's cute, warm, honest, and occasionally funny. And now I love Val, because she gave me a Caribou Coffee gift card when she picked up her money. Yes, my affections are for sale; please enquire at Customer Service.) As I looked around for my stats sheet to figure out how much I owed her, she leaned in, pointed back at Steve H***'s cube, and whispered, "Do you know him?" I thought, "Duh -- I can see his name plaque from right here." Then she whispered, "He's asleep!"

Sure enough, Steve H*** was sitting in his ergonomic chair, eyes closed, chin on chest, snoring lightly.

I like my cube better without guilt. It even feels a little roomier.

Supporting The Presidency

Adam Felber is, as usual, funny.

You People Are Weird

Our comforter seems to have struck a nerve.

I'm sorry to disappoint you all. Kristi chose the leopard-print pattern because (a) it looks good with cats on it, (b) the bed always has cats on it, and (c) it allowed her to go for a warm, tropical/jungle theme to counter the cold Minnesota winters. Here are some other views of the room.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Well, Damn It, I Thought It Was Funny

Seen on tonight:

And the hype was about ... what, exactly?

I read Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" last weekend. I was hoping for a lot, lot more. The central premise, which I won't spoil for you (even though it seems everybody but me had read this already), was one of many threads explored and interweaved 15 or so years ago in Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum."

You've got to be a patient, curious reader to deal with Eco. One reviewer notes that "Readers who need a plot may fall by the wayside, but on page 375 a plot actually begins." Eco throws the most obscure crap at you as if he expects you to know about it already, which you don't, so you go look it up, and you learn far more about the world and the fools who live in it than you ever thought possible. And along the way you end up on the most amazing ride of your life.

I suppose a synopsis of "Foucault's Pendulum" would read something like: "A trio of editors, sick to death of reading manuscripts on the occult and secret societies, attempt to tie all of the rantings in the manuscripts into a single, all-encompassing conspiracy theory. And it's all a great game until, suddenly, it's not a game at all." But it's so much more than that.

The difference, I suppose, between Brown and Eco is that Eco is friggin' brilliant, and really knows how to write (or his translator, William Weaver, knows how to make him look really good). Brown, on the other hand, writes page-turners in the tradition of Clive Cussler -- more intelligent than Cussler, true, but still a mere weekend's read.

If you liked "The Da Vinci Code," you might like Foucault's Pendulum. But if you loved "The Da Vinci Code," I think you should probably avoid Eco entirely.

In the tradition of Klund, I suppose a numerical rating is in order. So "The Da Vinci Code" gets a 65.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging

Rambis was the only one who bothered to wake up for the photo session.

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Friday, January 14, 2005

Stupidity Knows No Bounds

More from the "365 Stupidest Things Ever Said" page-a-day calendar.

"Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance."

-- from the Hazel Grove Methodist Church bulletin

What Are They Worried About? Sousaphone Players With Laser-Beam Eyes?

According to Scripps-Howard News Service, performers in the inaugural parade on January 20th have been instructed not to look at GW during the parade.
Participants have been warned that they will not be allowed to leave the tents except to go to portable toilets accompanied by a security escort.

Other instructions given performers include a warning not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements.
No sudden movements? That's gonna cramp the style of most of the majorettes. And heaven forbid anyone should look at the Boy King, lest they be turned to stone, stone I say!

Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm So Old

I admit it. Getting old is one of the risks you take by not dying young.

A few years ago, I bought Kristi the Simon & Garfunkel 3-disc "Old Friends" CD set. I've given it enough time now that borrowing it doesn't make it look like I actually bought it for me. So I finally pulled it off her desk and ripped a copy to bring to work.

I haven't heard some of this stuff for 10 years or more. (Some of it I've never heard at all.) Yeah, there are some seriously dated lyrics. But damn, those boys could sing. Currently humming along with "A Hazy Shade Of Winter."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Quote of the Day

Emma, in reference to her "boyfriend" Ben, who likes to pretend he's a dog: "It's okay, mom. It's okay if I have a husband who licks me."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Stupid Stupidity

So far the page-a-day stupidity calendar isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's supposed to be "The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said," but -- well, today's is a newspaper headline, and yesterday's was a book title. These don't really qualify as stupid things people said -- not in my opinion, anyway. Especially when people are actually out there saying really stupid things, right now!

Yesterday's book title entry: "Simply Bursting: A Guide to Blanner Control". Okay, this was someone trying to be clever and failing miserably. But it in no way rivals stuff that comes out of our President's mouth on a daily basis.
  • "Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. You're a—you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities."
  • "It's a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life."
  • "Free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."
  • "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."
  • "I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."
  • "Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."
  • "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
And so on, seemingly ad infinitum.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

She's Ba-aaack

Emma has returned from her week-long motor-home adventure with her grandparents, touring the sites of Nevada and Arizona. Walking across London Bridge, spitting in the Grand Canyon (maybe not), and watching lots of TV.

We missed her. Though it was awfully quiet and peaceful while she was gone ...

Stupid, Stupid Things

Mostly for Sean and Kevin, I've decided to post occasional entries from my new desk calendar, "The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said." However, in order to avoid infringing on pseudo-intellectual property rights, I won't ever post the current day's entry. Today's entry, from January 2nd, is especially for Sean, since it involves both bears and Canadians.

"At what elevation does an elk become a moose?"
"Is there anywhere I can see the bears pose?"
"Is it okay to keep an open bag of bacon on the picnic table, or should I store it in my tent?"

-- actual questions asked of park rangers in Banff National Park, Canada