|| Experimenting with Masks and Photoshop ||

Playing on the idea of masks, I created three different animal masks that can be viewed below. I drew ideas on to thick cardboard and cut them out, then cut out eye holes and mouth holes if I wanted it on there. As I really liked the style of art of Barnaby Richards, I drew these designs keeping in mind his art style but putting my own spin on it. The thick black line work is reminiscent of his work, The Funeral.

I have taken two pictures of this cat mask up on the headless mannequin because I took one with it straight and the mask accidentally fell and went wonky but I still kind of liked the odd look it gave, so I decided to leave the picture in. With the mask wonky rather straight, the composition, I feel, completely changes because the majority of the neck is hidden and the body ends up looking kind of stocky; it also gives the photograph as a whole a discombobulated look.

I did the same here with the owl face, first taking a proper picture with the head and body straight and in proportion, then tilting the head slightly to give the image a different effect on the viewer. Unlike the cat face I took the picture from a closer view rather than getting the whole body of the mannequin in shot.  I think this draws more attention to the actual mask rather than the body and what may be behind and around it, for example in the first owl mask photograph I took it from the same distance away as the cat mask and you can see the whiteboard in the back ground and because the board border is black/grey and has coloured pens on it, it is easily noticed and draws attention way form what I want to be the subject of the photo, the mask. Taking a close up shot gets rid of all the distractions around it.

Above is the third and last mask I created in the session. I decided not to tilt the head with this photo because of the size of the head on the body. I think the size difference is so great, that tilting the head would not make the photo better to look at. This last mask, I feel may  not have been photographed as well as the others, because the mouth hole has something that was on the mannequin behind it, meaning the full circle hole cannot be seen. I quite like the stark difference between the flat cardboard mask and the depth of the real 3D mannequin and shadows against the board background.

However what I’ve noticed from taking the photo from the distance I did, without the rest of the white board visible, is that it gives the mask a full body almost, in that it looks like a headshot, or a photo for a school yearbook, but possibly even a mugshot for a villain. One idea I could run with after discovering that could be to use the photos to make a character profile book, where I create characters using this method of making masks and putting them on mannequins and against a white background, to then edit it online to make it look better, either comically or for children. Text around the image could be simple enough to be names, and basic information about the character in the photo.

Above and below here I tried out a different path I could take with the ‘mask’ idea, what I did was take the mask that I managed to photograph best, which was the cat, and take it into Photoshop to get rid of everything except the mask, so this was the background and the mannequin. All I was left with was a floating cardboard cat mask. To make a shonky, kind of Monty Python’esque look, I plonked it on top of existing photos like masks, and I think it would be quite effective in either a children’s book or rather a comedy book better suited to adults. I think it looks better on the Mona Lisa than it does on Barack Obama, I feel like the Obama one gives off negative connotations because of the daggers through the eyes, but on the Mona Lisa because of the more washed out look to the image, it doesn’t look as threatening. Just placing the masks on top gives another dimension to the photographs that already have pictorial space and depth, the masks placed on top almost add another layer to the image as a whole because of how flat it is, there are no tonal ranges on the masks, so it possibly works better with the Mona Lisa because it is a painting, so already flatter than the real life photograph of Barack Obama. Either way I need to play on this idea and the one I had before about having a book full of different head shots, or maybe even try and put them together to bring together a solid final idea to start developing upon.

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