Let me and my family welcome you to this first Grinning Beagle blog by wishing you a Happy Holiday! I plan to write on a variety of topics here, from Photoshop to animal rescue. You can also check out my website, www.grinningbeagle.com to have fun and make money for animal shelters.
Every year, I try to create a Christmas card that will be memorable and, hopefully, bring a smile to our friends’ faces. You can see this year’s card, above.
Since many people ask, let me tell you a little about what was involved in the making of this year’s card and how we cloned ourselves.
Basically, the overall idea is that I take a series of separate, distinct pictures and them meld them all together with Photoshop. Part of the trick is to visualize the final card in advance and then have all the characters pose in a way that makes the end product seem natural.
I started with a picture of the outside of our house. It was taken during the day with the door open. It became the background Photoshop layer for the picture. I then added the wreath on the door, the lights around the window and the Christmas tree in the background, all from separate images.
For the cast, we posed in front of a white wall, making it easy to pick out the subject to isolate. I asked my husband, Lee, to put on his Japanese bathrobe for the first picture. I changed into my satin pajamas. Lee stood in front of the white wall, looking to the left and pretending that he was listening to some carolers. I also asked him to “put his arm around me”. I would be filled in later. Over the years of many Christmas cards, he understands well the strange directions that come from my vision of the card and he complies well.
While Lee poses, I snap a few shots and then we switch places. It is then my turn to smile, look to the left and pretend I’m being sung to.
Our next phase was in jeans. For this shot, I direct him to hold a notebook, look to the right and sing a few notes. I try to take at least three pictures before we switch places again.
It’s then time for another costume change, this time in sports coat and slacks for Lee and a long coat which covered up my previous outfit. More singing. More shots and off to change into our final outfits.
I had some fun boots, a hat and a skirt. Lee wore a leather jacket, his Obama T-shirt and a toboggan. I laughed and said, “Well I’ll make sure this picture won’t be hidden by any of the other carolers.” He posed in his most street stance making gestures with his left hand that we only hope aren’t some kind of gang sign. These pictures were all taken in October and we were hoping that our support for Obama would the correct one. Of course, it was.
Concerning the dogs, a friend said, “The funny thing about your card is not the fact that you cloned yourselves, but that the dogs are sitting outside the front door and aren’t running away.” All beagle owners will understand how true that is.
Every clone of us, each dog and each decoration is a separate layer in Photoshop. Shadows were added under each clone and each dog. The final layer was to create a feeling of night. This layer covers the whole picture and is filled with black. The opacity is lowered to give a slight darkness and then sections were cut to mimic lights from the porch.
Let me also acknowledge the inspiration for this year’s card. It was from a Japanese female photographer’s portrait of herself as a group of school children on a field trip. She represented herself as every school girl and even as the teacher. I’ve forgotten her name and lost the original photograph, but if anyone know who I’m talking about, please leave a comment here.
I hope you enjoy my first blog and my family card. Please come back often.