Here is the final image from Project 2: Cezanne Deconstructed
To recap the details of this project:
This project is making use of an image in the public domain: Still Life With Apples, by Paul Cezanne in (1890).
Deconstruction: You can read my earlier post about this process here. The goal was to take the individual elements (pieces of fruit, plate, flower pot, table, and wall), and create new layers with the completed forms (since there is overlap, the Healing Brush and Content-Aware Fill are extremely useful for restoring these elements.
Reconstruction: First, I recombined these individual elements with an emphasis of recreating the original as close to a per-pixel level as possible. Here is the result:
The unseen apple: How many apples do you see? Four? My answer was four when I first saw this image. After spending dozens of hours on this image, I’m convinced that there is a fifth apple. Here’s how I discovered it:
Notice the gap in between the apples in the above image? This was the result of my reconstruction, but the original image does not have this gap. At first I thought that I was just not following the edges of the four apples. Maybe I was trimming off too much? Nope. That space is not only filled in, but it has a shadow. This can only mean that there is another apple behind the bottom two apples in the background.
This is the only visible part, but if we assume an average size apple (compared to the others), we can assume a basic shape. Unfortunately, Adobe’s Content-Aware Fill is pushed beyond its limits:
This just doesn’t quite look right. And it would take great artistic license to “reconstruct”. It would practically be an original drawing, even if it was heavily stylized to match Cezanne’s. And this isn’t important enough for this project to pursue. Ultimate goal is to synthesize an entirely new image – one with an illusion of depth.
Let’s get messy!
In order for this work to be considered Fair Use, I need to create something transformative.
First, we need to create some space. I’ve decided on a simple room construction, using assumed dimensions:
In order to increase the sense of surface lighting, I used a series of gradients on masked layers. This mimics the reflective and shadow casting elements inside of a room with moderate backlighting.
Then I decided to play around with the other elements:
Uh oh… I don’t think that plate is going to survive the fall…
I used the Free Transform Tool to stretch the plate to a top-looking-down-angle, and then used the Eraser Tool to “shatter” the plate. I then used the Magic Wand Selector Tool to isolate individual “shards” as new layers – which I moved around to create clusters. This caused the size of the .psd file to balloon to over 1GB in size. Worth it!
Cezanne must have been a very frustrated artist.
The final steps: involved depth of focus, additional (failed) works of art, and more manipulation of light and shadow.
This depth of focus effect does cause a considerable loss of detail, but is accurate to the way our eyes focus on different objects and varying distances. The perspective here assumes your focus is on the fine detail of the nearest apple’s core, under a light-source.
Don’t worry, the full detail is still there:
Strangely, without the soft unfocused effect things do not look as realistic.
Fair Use Considerations: Is this a fair use of a creative work?
- This work is noncommercial: it was made for educational purposes, and I am not financially benefiting from the use of the original material.
- Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples is in the public domain
- This work is transformative in nature – I think. I didn’t just take it apart and put it back together as is, I transformed the image into something new. By synthesizing a scene with transformed elements, you can reimagine the circumstances behind the original work. This is not a criticism of the original, but perhaps it qualifies as “fan art”.
- This new digital terror certainly does not “compete with the original or have any negative effect on its market.” No one is going to regard my homage to Cezanne as a counterfeit. For one thing, it’s not a painting, it is contemporary, and referential.
What do you think about this use of Cezanne? Is it Fair Use? Is it a good use of Photoshop? Leave your comments below!