Assignment 3: Urban Fantasy

For assignment 3, we had to create a montage/collage with the theme ‘Urban Fantasy’.

To be honest, when I first heard the theme, I was momentarily stunned. What is ‘urban fantasy’?! I’ve never heard of it. Well, if we break it down, it’s just urban + fantasy, but I admit there was a point where I believed it to be more so I tried wikipedia-ing it hahaha.
And so here’s what it says:

And even when I googled images on it, on many portals and on DA, I found pictures of this..

All sorts of weird things came out, fairies, vampires. But I guess I sort of got the gist of what the theme is.

For the concept, I decided to go with the theme ‘Reflection’.
Using some elements such as mirror and the nature, I merged together some stock photos into a collage which I felt best expressed my idea.

This piece expresses an idea of two worlds reflecting each other, and through the mirror we can get a look into another world. The mirror exists also as a portal, where the subject stands in between the two worlds.

The theme of urban fantasy here is blurred; there is no clear distinction on which world is urban and which is fantasy. It is entirely up to the audience to feel which side is more urban or more fantasy to them. As such, it is a subjective collage that I created.

However, when I presented it to the class during critique session, some comments were that they were confused which world was which, bringing up the question on whether my collage fit the assignment criteria. Other comments included saying that the subject in the mirror does not seem to wearing clothes that are urban enough if the other world is fantasy, and vice versa. Suggestions were given to make the surroundings more obvious whether it’s more fantastical or urbanized.

For the final submission, I guess I’ll have to think more about the theme. But most likely, I’ll still keep to the original concept of ‘Reflection’.


Class Exercise 4: On Photoshop

Basically what we learnt in tutorial class today were mainly how to do:

1. Adjustment Layers

2. Destructible/Non-destructible editing – Convert to Smart Object

3. Magic Wand/Lasso/Refine Edge – Merging of 2 photos

Sounds tough? Yeah….it wasn’t really.

I learnt a lot though, never knew the adjustment layers on the right side were different from that on the taskbar. And it’s so much better now that I know! I won’t always have to worry about saving it in so many different files just because the levels or curves are a little different from the last edit.

So basically, the adjustment layers on the right, usually above the layers option, allows the user to change the levels, curves, colors, saturation and whatnot, with the EXCEPTION of changing it permanently, or so we call ‘destructible editing’.

By clicking on it, for example ‘levels’, changing the levels of the background photo will create a new layer that has only the affected photo, therefore the background photo is untouched, and if the user wishes to revert back he/she can just delete the layer.

Sounds cool?? YEAH I THINK SO TOO.

Well it works for all the options you can see there. Such as Curves, Saturation, Color Balance and more… And the technique works for more others as well, as long as it’s a new layer, it’s editable/revertible. Love it. So much more convenient.

Apart from that, we learnt the idea of converting the photo into a Smart Object, where it becomes non-destructible, and therefore the changes non-permanent.

From the layer’s taskbar, right-clicking on the layer will provide the user with a “convert to smart object” option, and by clicking on it, any editing or zooming in/out will not render the pixels damaged. This often happens to many using photoshop and once the pixels are damaged the image becomes blurred and is no longer in its best condition. Useful!


Finally, the usage of magic wand or lasso or magnetic pen was the most useful in my opinion. It makes merging of 2 photos into one super easy! I’ve always wanted to copy and paste myself into the photos of celebrities to make myself look like I was there. Now I can do it! 🙂

Lasso was the hardest to use I gathered. Your hand had to be really steady (without usage of a stylus pen) and it’s hard to gauge. Magnetic lasso is much better, it gives you points to click on and it automatically detects for you the outline. One con is that it tends to give you a more edgy/sharp/pointy outline. Then there’s the pen tool, which is kind of like magnetic lasso as well, but one bonus is that it allows you to create curves, kind of like illustrator, therefore creating a much smoother outline.

Magic wand/Quick selection tool is by far the best, it automatically detects the difference in colors and helps you gauge the outline. If the area outlined is too much, there’s also an option to minus off just the area you do not want outlined. To make sure the area is approved by the user, he/she can also click on the Quick Mask Mode, where the area NOT outlined will be shaded in red, and any areas that the user wants to erase, he/she can just paint it with the paintbrush (in black, but will turn out red on the quick mask area), and tadah, the outline is edited.

Another form of editing the outline is to click on ‘Refine Edge’ where there’s options like radius, feather, smoothness, contrast and more that can smoothen out the edges of the outline giving it a more realistic cut. After editing the outline and approving of it, the user can then copy and paste the new cut/layer into a new background and edit it from there. And tadah a new merged collage/montage is formed!

All the techniques will be of super great help to my 3rd assignment. So here I’ll go off to look for more inspirations for the assignment.  🙂

Class Exercise 3: Digital Collage/Montage in the Digital Age

During lecture today, we learnt the difference between digital collage and montage, and had many examples shown to us from Jing. I personally liked collages more before I had any major exposure to it, perhaps its the idea of the rugged edges the idea of detachment the idea that you know it’s not a single photo that captured my attention. Many examples were shown to us to teach us how it’s possible to create collages/montages to form a certain aesthetic feel.

We were then given a class exercise to do: find artist(s) that we liked and explain why.

Previously I liked collages more but after googling more of the artists’ works I found that I’m slowly inclining towards montages instead. I love the ‘realism’ within the artpiece yet there’s something so grotesque about it that makes you stop and stare.

Such as Man Ray’s work.

I’m especially fascinated by his photographs actually, and his ‘rayographs’. Love his influences of Dadaism & Surrealism. Awesome works.

This piece by Scott Mutter distracted me by awhile too. Awesomely fantastic.

Besides montages, I liked Julien’s Pacaud’s works as well.He has this comedic effect that estranges the subjects in the artwork but makes it look realistic somehow. And I love how there’s ‘more than meets the eye’ kind of feel to his works. And it’s so urban fantasy as well. Ooh inspirational much?

Well besides Julien Pacaud, Yutaka Inagawa has this piece that’s really nice too. His works are like “gripping urban nightmares, but also emphasizing the cutting grotesque beauty within them”.

Can read more about it here:

and this piece by Hannah Hoch is so pretty I had to post it up here. I realise I’m quite fascinated by colorful things, and really weird juxtaposition.

And finally, here’s one more by Jeff Wall which I really like.

Overall I think I still am a big fan of Julien Pacaud’s works, which I think perhaps half of the world is too. But his works are simply too amazing not to like.

Can’t decide to go for montage or collage for Assignment 3. DILEMMA. 😦
Shall see!


Assignment 2: Keitai Phenomena

So for our Assignment 2 we had to create a series of photographs revolving around the idea of Keitai Phenomena; either we incorporate the ‘keitai’ in our shots or we incorporate the idea of keitai in our concepts. Needless to say I chose the latter, I’m just not fascinated with the idea of using technology as a subject in my photos. Call me weird but I like mundane banal stuff more hahaha.

The assignment was pretty tough as compared to the first where the lines were clear and you just had to pass the technicality aspect to be sure you had the grade. For this one, I was pretty stumped when I had to stop and wonder if my idea was not suitable for the assignment.

My concept for this assignment at one glance just seems to be be about shoes, shoes and more shoes, and more or less in the same composition. The main idea I was going for was actually looking “through the eyes of a dancer”. To many people they just simply assumed dancers wear dance shoes 24/7 throughout the year because we’re spotted in dance wear everytime they see us. To a dancer, dance shoes are not their only persona. They are just like every other university students (in my context) and are not and should not be confined to a single stereotype. From my series, I try to show my own perspective (taken top-down much like my line of vision) regarding the different kind of shoes I (as a dancer) wear in my daily life.

Wearing the different kinds of shoes does not just simply ends at that. The different kind of shoes also shows the different kind of persona a dancer might have, and the different kinds of persona that they are open to.

It is an intimate, sneak peek into the mundane life of a dancer.

So for the tutorial I submitted 4 shots, which recieved comments such as the link between the photos weren’t smooth due to different perspectivity. Here,

So after compiling it:

It can be much better though, and I’ll work on it before the final portfoilio submission, but till then! 🙂


Revised the composition of the photos, and decided to make all 4 photos largely similar so that they flow better.