Case Study

Client: Digital Imaging 1

Project Titles: “The Price of Progress”
“Musical Flag”

Duration: Fall 2013 Semester

Designer: Joel Riley

This semester Digital Imaging opened my eyes to two new forms of art and media that I had heard of, even seen, but never really understood. They were Cubism and Hyper Realism. The two are very different and yet similar as well.
In Cubism an artist takes the concepts of depth and perception as we know them and throws them to the wind. These rules do not apply in the form of cubism. You can take a three dimensional object and rip it down into two dimensions, and vice versa.


Cubism is known for its harsh angles and common usage of only a few different colors. To me personally I find a lot of cubism a little strange and discomforting, but I respect the art medium it has become.

In my own cubist piece I actually wound up blending Cubism into Hyper – Realism and the combination I think is fantastic. The colors and the harsh angles in my Cubist piece obviously represent the cubist aspect, but I chose to leave the saxophone keys and the piano keys their natural color which lends more towards Hyper Realism. I think that the two converge seamlessly.

In order to create this piece I had to employ many different tools in the Photoshop arsenal. I began of course by cutting out the images I would need for the image. This assignment marked my first use of the pen tool in Photoshop. I had been told of the pen tool before, and I had even tried using it in the hyper assignment to no avail. However, in this piece I would  need to cut out saxophone keys, and as you may know, they are round. There are other ways I could have accomplished retrieving the keys, however I figured now was as good a time as any to learn the pen tool. And I am extremely glad that I did. There is  a learning curve to it, but once you know how to use the handles it becomes second nature, and you can grab any curve you wish. Once I got the hang of it I used the pen tool to retrieve all my images.

Once the images were cut out I needed to manipulate them, after all, cubism is all about taking something that is normal and making it abnormal. I chose to do this with the fretboard of my guitar (Victoria). I selected the layer, copied it of course and then used the warp tool to bend and stretch it. The shape I got turned out wonderfully, it had a nice flow to it now that I had warped it.

I decided to cut holes in order to create dimension in the picture. I also placed the saxophone keys both behind and in front of the fretboard. This required cutting and copying more pieces to stack the layers.

Once I had the frets and sax keys in place I took one my duplicate layers of the fretboard and began cutting it apart. Slicing angular shapes right out of it. Once I had cut it literally to pieces I selected the whole layer and rotated it so that it was offset from the one beneath it.

I then added the piano keys at the bottom and the sheet music which I liquified into the background.

Once everything was in place it was time to add the colors. The polygnal tool came in extremely handy for this. I simply went to the fretboard layer, made abstract selections and filled it with various colors. I then went into hue and saturation for each one and adjusted them so that some colors were dull while others were almost neon.

One of the challenges I faced with the piece was creating movement throughout it. At first it did not seem like I would be able to pull it off, but this was because originally my image was bound by the corners of the page. Once I floated everything in the center the movement can to life.

Overall I am very pleased with the piece as a whole.


In Hyper Realism reality is suspended all together. People are given animal heads, animals talk and so on. Hyper realism is a medium that we are exposed to far more than I think we realize. We all know the Geico Gecko, the Budweiser frogs, the Jacks Links Bigfoot and so on, however Hyper Realism stretches much deeper.



It is in almost every magazine and website we read or encounter. Every picture is Photoshopped to perfection, women are slimmed down, given bigger busts, perfect hair and skin, and men are chiseled, and unwanted hair is removed. This act suspends reality itself, lending the idea that these people are perfect. Of course we know that nobody is perfect so this is a form of Hyper Realism. The following two images depict this phenomenon. Jennifer Lawrence is a recent example of what the media does to image of a person. If you examine the two photos you can see for yourself what I mean.



Let’s get back on topic however. In my piece I represented the use of nature to create the world we live in. The blending of a tree into a building. I felt as though a natural blending of the building into the tree would be the best course of action, so I decided to have the building grow out of the tree.

The removal of the images I needed for this assignment from their original pictures was much easier than the pen tool that i employed for the Cubism piece. I was able to use channels to extract most of the image and then went in with a lasso tool for the remaining bits. I realize not that the lasso tool is probably the least effective method, however this was my very first attempt at photoshop, you use what you got right?!

Once everything was cut and in place it was time to construct. The eraser tool was used extensively in both cleaning the edges of the building and tree; as well as removing pieces of the building to make it appear as if the building was growing out of the tree.

To add dimension to the picture I used emboss, this instantly added dimension to the building but it wasn’t enough. I took the burn tool and burned the edges of the embossing which gave a nice shadow effect to it. This really helped lift the building off the tree.

I also employed the use of oil filter in this image quite a bit. I laid it on the background as well as the building. The tree I left in its natural state, this added nice contrast between the tree and the other parts of the image.

I really enjoyed this concept and so I did my optional piece on the same concept. And the second attempt came out spectacularly.




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