Getting a Little Loopy

You may have noticed that I have a certain fascination with spheres, rings, repeatable patterns, and various mystical shapes. I create all the artwork you find here and at my other sites, and one thing I enjoy is building layers of patterns on top of each other, sacred geometry or fibonacci style.

I’ve been asked about my process, so I thought I’d make a different type of post, one which lets you look “under the hood” and watch as I create art.

Actually, I’m going to show you the finished piece first and then tell you how I got there.

The finished piece is a loop with images within it. See it above? I’ll show it to you again here:

To create this image in Photoshop, I did the following:

1. I began with a photograph I had taken last summer of a pretty butterfly sitting on a flower in the garden.

Unfortunately I can only show you a small version of this large photograph here. I worked with the original, large size, taken directly off my camera.

2. I always like incorporating real patterns and shapes I find in nature into my art. So I cropped a small section of the pretty variegated orange and black pattern on the butterfly’s wing, which gave me a small image consisting of just two “squares” of pattern. Then I resized this crop down to a smaller size and made it a repeatable pattern in Photoshop. The image I used for the pattern was this:

(By the way, you’re welcome to take this image and use it as a repeatable pattern in your own work. Consider it a free Photoshop pattern. :) )

3. I usually use a workspace that’s a 200 pixel by 200 pixel image to create artwork for each entry I make in my blog. So I created a blank 200px by 200px image.

4) I then filled that with the repeatable butterfly pattern, which gave me this:

5. I wanted to do something fun with it, like turn it into a sphere. So I went into Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates. I then selected the “Polar to Rectangular” option instead of the “Rectangular to Polar” option within the polar coordinates box. Then I flipped the image 180 degrees. Then I went back to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates and chose the “Rectangular to Polar” option this time. This gave me a nice “butterfly sphere” image:

6. This was nice, but I wanted to do something more fancy with it. So I created a new image, 600pixels by 600 pixels wide. I filled it with a nice bright blue background. Then I pasted the butterfly sphere image three times in a line right at the center of the image, going across horizontally. This is a tiny version of how it looked, but remember, this actually happened within a much larger 600px by 600px image:

So just keep in mind that I pasted the butterfly sphere image three times along a horizontal band or axis across the middle of a blue image sized at 600px by 600px to get that image.

7. Next I took that image and went up to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates again and this time I selected the “Polar to Rectangular” option. That gave me this:

Now remember, this is still happening in the 600px by 600px size. I like the ring or loop with the butterfly pattern hidden within it. It looks very cosmic and mysterious. But I don’t really like that there is so much blue background. I want to see more ring, less blue background.

8. So I crop the image so that the loop or the ring is featured more as the centerpiece of the image, with less blue in the background. So now the ring is much “bigger” within the image; it doesn’t get lost within the blue so much.

9. This is getting pretty close to what I want to see as a final image. Since this version is still at 600px by 600 px, I resize the image to 200 pixels by 200 pixels since that’s the size I want to use in my blog. Meanwhile, I think I’d like to add some light or a lens flare or something to brighten it up, give it a glow or something. I end up using the Filter>Render>Lighting Effects tool and select the “Flashlight” using the “Omni” setting and placing a plain white light in the Intensity area, with the Intensity set near to Full; and then I use a background ambient light of light yellow. This gives me this:

And we’re done!

If you ever want to make a loop like the one within this image, you can do what I did. Take a larger workspace than the size you want your final image to be, create a horizontal band with a square image going across the middle, then use the Distort>Polar Coordinates Tool to create a nice loop. If the original square image you’re using to create the horizontal band has some nice patterns and colors within it, your loop will come out very pretty. Then you can crop and resize to suit your specific project needs.

But then, you can start getting a little “loopy” and end up making loops everywhere!

You can isolate your loop shape and save it as a brush, and then you can use that brush in combination with a plain color or pattern to “paint” with it, and you can have yourself a grand old loopyness festival.

Thanks for letting me get a little loopy with you!



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