Thursday, December 20, 2007

Acting White: An Artisan Holiday

It's been two weeks since my last blog. I don't know how some bloggers keep up the pace. Issues stream in daily, begging for attention. I am thoroughly convinced of the importance of the blogosphere to our progress.

Nevertheless, I needed a diversion. I took an artisan vacation of sorts. I have always been intrigued with stipple drawings, particularly the headcuts unique to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), displayed by example in Apple Founder/CEO Steve Jobs (below).

The drawings, by talented artist, take many painstaking hours to lay down a series of dots of varying density. My goal was to let my computer do the heaviest 'lifting' in my own home-brewed process, on my way to becoming my very own stipple artist. I will let you judge my initial draft work below.

My process at it's base begins with a photograph separated into many levels of gray, each level then matched to a set of digital 'canvases' of dots of varying size and/or shade, which when properly overlayed, reveal the character of the subject by hiding and not-hiding each other, depending on whose on top.

Less one thinks computers have taken over, this is not true. Significant parts of the subjects must be interpreted and re-drawn before dots can be laid down. The separation process is far from exact and excluding a photograph's background is not a simple mask or cut. I can't tell you how many times my poor little lap-top went into cardiac-failure over manipulating millions of dots in memory.

For sure there are some programs that attempt to create these 'pointillist' renderings, but I found them lacking. They make the dots too big and simply cannot interpret as well as the eye. These problems preserve the few artist who do this work by hand, along with the WSJ's lock on them for $500 to $1,000 a pop.

Where I go with this new 'skill', I have no clue, but it was fun. I will more slowly hone my stippling skills for a time when the book is finished. Thanks go to my two subjects, the embattled President Mbeki of S. Africa and the newly elected Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress. Now back to the issues of 'acting white' and how we confuse this with 'acting right'.

James C. Collier


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Miriam said...

interesting pursuit! I wish you much luck.

Anonymous said...

They look great. Reminds me of Seurat(I hope I spelled that correctly!)