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About Me

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Detroit & Boston, United States
Artist at heart, video editor by trade, photographer, aspiring documentary filmmaker, coffee slinger, cat herder, animal lover, US Air Force Iraq War Veteran, humanitarian and funny. A creative soul trying to find my place in this world.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

...And Now a Month of Nonproductivity

I honestly had big plans for this break. I planned on doing a bunch of tutorials from Lynda.com, catching up on reading (fiction and non-fiction alike) as well as some painting and drawing. In reality, I did NONE of it. Yes, I feel like an underachiever this winter break but I'm okay with that. It felt nice just to switch off my brain, go to the gym more, relaaaaaax, veg out and watch TV shows and films.

I did accomplish a few big things. I purchases a new (used) camera, which will be the camera I'll be shooting my documentaries on. I purchased a SONY PMW-EX1 and got a great deal on it from a friend! He really looked after his equipment and it has low shooting hours. He wanted a quick sale because he just purchased a RED Camera. I'm keen to play with that, too, but for my purposes this SONY will be just fine. I sold my old camera, the SONY HVR-Z1 to B&H Photo Video when I was in NYC this past weekend. It was a great camera, great picture but I realized I needed to move away from tape. Sometimes, I am reluctant to technological change when I need to embrace it.

I still have one more week until the second semester starts. In the meantime, I'm going to nurse this nasty flu I brought from NYC and I have Air Force drill this weekend. I'll try to get some artistic projects done in between. Have to stay motivated!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Semester of Productivity

Well, I'm proud to say I've survived my first semester of graduate school and I did quite well! I honestly didn't think I'd do that well, despite having busted my ass and sacrificed my work out schedule, good (ok, better) eating habits and social life. But, there's a trade off for everything. I'm keeping this post short. In fact, the title should read: A Semester of Productivity (followed by a month of remarkable non-production). Clearly, the brain is one muscle I haven't exercised this past decade as much as I have this past semester. That'll change. I'm in school for film so I need to find a balance and continue my fine art, too. I worked so hard getting that back the past year and a half, I can't throw that progress away now. Anyway, I just finished cleaning the apartment and now I'm off to the gym. I have to get ready for my PT test. Oh yeah, did I mention? I re-enlisted with the MA Air National Guard? After a 4 1/2 year hiatus from AD, I decided the military is a much bigger part of me than I had realized. I actually missed it. Ok...will be back with more something something.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall 2012

Well, I finally made it to Boston! I got here last week and grad school classes started yesterday. (It's the MFA in Media Art at Emerson College). I've had two of them so far and I'm very excited. I think there's some great people in this program - most of whom have some experience in the industry - and if not, then a dedicated interest and creative drive. I'm taking a full load of three classes which are: Business of Modern Media, Foundations of Image and Sound Production and Studies in Documentary History and Theory. I'm very excited (and scared) about this program!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Great News!!!

I got into graduate school! I applied to five schools and so far, I've received one rejection letter for University of Michigan's Art & Design Program and I just received an acceptance letter to Emerson College for the MFA in Media Art program! I've still got three more schools to hear from, but at least I know I'll be in graduate school by September 2012. I'm so, so excited!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vector Illustrated Portrait of Natalya

STEP 1. Import photo into Photoshop. Change the image size to 300 px. Make a copy of it and throw away the locked layer. Make a new layer AND a new path. You will be making lots of layers and paths, so be sure to name them and we’ll group them as we go along. Photobucket STEP 2. Start with three new layers and three new paths. Name them Clothes, Hair & Face respectively. Photobucket Photobucket STEP 3. Make sure both the Face layer and Face path are selected. Use the Pen tool (P). Make sure path and pen tool are both selected in the pen tool options. Begin Outlining the face. Photobucket STEP 4. With pen tool still selected, right click and choose fill path then using the eye drop tool (I) select a mid tone. Then hide the Face layer. Select the Hair layer and Path and do the same as you did for the face and then continue and do the same with the Clothing. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket STEP 5. Now, before things get messy we’re going to start making some groups to keep things neat and tidy. Make a group for Clothes, Face, Eyes, Lips & Hair. Now your layers panel should look something like this. Photobucket STEP 6. EYES PART I: Now we’ll begin working on features of the face. We’ll begin with the eyes. Create a new layer in the EYES group of the layers panel and also create a new path and name it eye whites. Make the opacity of the Face layer about 20% or so, so that you can still see the layer but can also see the facial features well enough to distinguish tones. Once you draw the paths – right click choose fill path and fill with white (or very close to it). Create another layer and another path and call them both eye depth. It’s going to be for the eye socket and give the eye orbit some depth. Make sure this layer is beneath the eye whites. After you have finished drawing both paths for the eye sockets, right click, choose fill path and using the eyedropper select a light grey color. We will fill it in with a gradient later to give it more depth. Photobucket STEP 7. EYES PART II: Create three more layers and three more paths with the names: iris, PUPIL eye black and eye highlight. Change the opacity on eye whites and eye depth down to 20% or so, so you can see. Now, for the iris we will still be using the pen tool. I used the free transform pen tool but you could also click on the oval shaped pen tool, as well. Repeat the same process for the PUPIL eye black and the eye highlight. Depending on the reflection on the subject’s eyes – the eye highlight may fall within the iris and pupil and may have a rectangular or circular shape. This is critical (in my opinion) as it helps the picture come alive when the iris, pupils and eye highlights are perfectly aligned and done right. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket STEP 8. Now let’s check our progress so far. Highlight all layers and put opacity back to 100%. Look a bit scary? Yes! Don’t worry we’ll fix that. Highlight the face and change the opacity to 20% but leave all of the eye features at 100%. Photobucket STEP 9. Let’s give the eyes a break and we’ll add more detail to them in a bit. Let’s work on the nose. Make a new path and a new layer under the group FACE. Let’s call it nose out line. Begin tracing a line path around the bridge and outline the nose and nostrils. Fill the path with a sampled color. Zoom out – bring all opacity back to 100% on all layers. The lines look a bit harsh now so we’ll use the Gaussian blur to help them look more subtle. Go to filter gallery, select Gaussian blur and experiment with the amount, then OK. Photobucket Photobucket STEP 10. LIPS: I like to work on one section for a bit and the move on to another and slowly watch the piece come to life. Now, we’ll begin on the lips. Create a new layer in the group LIPS and a new path and call it lip base. Fill path. Change the opacity down and now we’re going to draw a line to separate the lips. Create a new layer in the LIPS group and call it Lip Divider. Draw a line with the free transform pen tool. Before we choose to fill the path, we need to change the brush. Choose a small brush about 4 pixels, or so. Choose a stylized brush that leaves a thing, organic looking line. Instead of choosing fill path choose stroke path but instead of color choose the brush option from the drop down menu. If you want to add a Gaussian blur to the lip line, you can. Let’s check out our progress – put all layers back to 100% and zoom out. It’s getting there! Photobucket STEP 11. EYEBROWS: Let’s add a base for the eyebrows. We’re going to add some realistic looking hair strokes later on, but for now we’re going to lay the base. Add a new layer in the EYE group and create a new path and call it eyebrow base. Draw the eyebrows, fill path with a sampled color. Zoom out and check out the progress. You may want to reduce the opacity on the eyebrows. STEP 12. We’re going to add some more line details to the face and ears now. Create a new path and new layer under the FACE group. Label it FACE LINES – follow same instructions as when making the lines for the nose. Make another path and layer for the ear lines and do the same. Feel free to add Gaussian blur, or not – depending on what you appeals to you. STEP 13. EYES Part II: Now we’ll add some more detail. We’re going to add the pinky fleshy corners of the eyes now. Change the opacity on all layers of the eye to about 20%. Create a new layer under/over eye whites and above eye depth. Check work. This is what mine looks like after adding the fleshy part of the eyes, some more definition with face lines (with Gaussian blur and different opacities applied) and I put a stroke effect around the layer lip base to give the lips some more umph! Photobucket STEP 14. Ok, back to the lips. We’re going to add a bit of a highlight to the lower lip and darken the upper lip. I made a new path and a new layer and drew a path of where the highlights are on the lower lip. I filled the path, knocked down the opacity to 10% and add a Gaussian blur. Now for the shadow on the upper lip, choose the burn tool and then from the burn tool drop down menu choose the Midtones range and play around with the brush size, type and exposure for your taste. Burn a bit onto the upper lip to make it darker – be sure that the lip base layer is selected. I’ve done a bit of adjusting with the lip layer opacities and the burn tool – I think I’m happy with the lips now. Lock the LIPS group. We’ll leave those alone and move onto the eyelashes. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket STEP 15. EYELASHES & EYELINER: Change the face opacity down to 10% and the EYES group down to 15%. Make a new path and layer called eyeliner under the eye group. Use the pen tool and start drawing some eyeliner. To draw the eyelashes, use the freeform pen tool and draw some eyelashes. Play around with the pen tool and clean up the shapes a bit. Great, they’re looking good now we’ll add a bit of eyeliner to the lower eyelid. Ok, I like the eyelashes and eyeliner. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket STEP 16. Now, let’s add some detail to the iris and the eye depth. Highlight the iris layer and then move to the path tab. Highlight the iris path and then click the button at the bottom “load path as selection.” This will select the iris and we will add a gradient to add some depth. I do want to keep this portrait grayscale but it might be a bit interesting if we add a little bit of color to the eyes. I made my own gradient in mostly greys and a couple of bluish-greenish greys. This may take some experimenting to get it right. I made a copy of the iris layer and selected one eye at a time using the wand tool so the gradients match in each eye (or at least their close). Then use the blend mode to experiment what the iris layers look like. Here is what I have got. ¬¬ I used pin light for the iris copy and luminosity for the iris layer. If you want to go a step further – merge those two layers and make a copy and then use the blend mode yet again. I like the results. Change the opacity on the layer eye depth down to 50%. Zoom out and check out the portrait. Nice! Photobucket Photobucket STEP 17. Let’s add some more shadow and highlights to the skin using the burn and dodge tools. Lower the layer FACE opacity down to about 15% so you can distinguish the tones. Make a copy of the FACE layer and do all of the dodging and burning on this layer so that if you make a mistake you can erase without erasing the face. Using the dodge and burn tools - add highlights, midtones and shadows to give the face more depth. Experiemnt with the drop down menus in both of these tools and the opacity. Note – you may want to choose your settings before you change the FACE opacity down – once you are happy with the way a shadow or highlight effect looks, change the FACE opacity back down and begin to add the values. Be patient! You’ll probably be doing this for a little while. Photobucket STEP 18. Let’s add some hair strokes for the eyebrows. Create a new layer under the EYES group and call it eyebrow hair strokes. Choose one of the artist brushes and experiment with the settings until you get a hair stroke type look. I’ve changed the blend mode on the hair stroke layer to difference, but feel free to experiment. Zoom out and check your progress. The face is looking pretty close to done. Now, we’ll turn our attention to the hair. Photobucket Photobucket STEP 19. HAIR: Make a copy of the hair layer. Choose a brush that simulates hair strokes and paint some hair – vary the bristle size and opacity every couple of strokes to make it more realistic. Here’s what I got before I start to clean up the hair and play with the blend modes. Now choose a solid color background, gradient or whatever you would like and VOILA! Pat yourself on the back. You’re finished. Photobucket STEP 20. Save a .jpg copy and then experiment with the filter gallery, photo filters, grungy textures and borders. Go nuts! Photobucket

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Online Portfolio

I have been putting this off for literally years! I really couldn't decide which website to use and after much consideration I chose Behance Network. http://www.behance.net/nikoletta_kanakis

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vector Illustrated Portrait: Natasha

I always have fun creating vector portraits of people I know. It makes it more challenging to get the 'likeness' and their personality to show through. This time, I chose to do a vector portrait of my cousin, Natasha. Now, there are oh so many ways and techniques to create vector portraits but this one is modeled off of another tutorial at PSDTuts+ . Many of the steps are taken from this tutorial and I have deleted or added information relevant to my piece.
Step 1 Before we start we need to find our inspiration. For this tutorial, I used a photograph of my cousin and opened it in Photoshop. Also, one big mistake that I accidentally overlooked, if you're making the vector portrait in Photoshop - set the resolution to 300 pixels. I left mine at 72 which means that I cannot enlarge it much without it looking pixelated. Alternatively, you could just create the vector portrait in Illustrator and avoid this mess altogether. Personally, I like making them in both. Photobucket Step 2 You will be using many layers to create this artwork, so try to keep everything organized. Create a new layer over the image and name it "Head." Then grab your Pen Tool (P), and make sure it is set to Paths. Photobucket Step 3 Hold Ctrl + Space to select your Zoom Tool. Then zoom into the face. Trace the outline of her face. Do the same thing and trace the outline of her face, body and t-shirt. Use the eyedropper tool to select a colors for each of these elements. Photobucket Also, be sure to create layers and groups to keep organized. Important: Make sure you are working on the corresponding paths and layers. If you are working on the Hair Layer - make sure the the Hair Path is selected, too. Photobucket Photobucket Step 4 Now a tricky part, the Eyes. Maybe you would like to create a Layer Set only for the eyes, since we are going to use many layers. Create a new layer called "Eye." Then Zoom in and draw the shape around both eyes. Then fill it with white. Create a new layer, and name it "Iris." Draw the path around the iris and fill it with black. Create a new layer, and name it "Eyeliner." Draw the path around her eyelash to contour the eyeball. Fill it with black. Use the Eraser Tool to erase all the white areas that surpass the Eyelash/Eyeliner area. You can make the eyeliner and the eyelashes together, but I chose to do them separately and made another layer and path for each of them. Create a new layer, and name it "Retina." Draw the path around the retina and fill it black. Create a new layer, and name it "Highlights." To give the eye a little more life, select the highlights on the iris and fill them with white. Note: The highlights are shown in the next screenshot after I added some shadow and highlights. It should start to look something like this now: Photobucket Step 5 Now we will give the eyes a little depth. Select the "Head" layer. Draw paths around the eyes. Right-click the path and choose Convert Path To Selection. Grab the Burn Tool (0) and set the Exposure to around 25%. Darken those areas trying to follow the picture’s intensity. Feel free to play around with the Dodge and Burn tool and their parameters such as "Shadows, Highlights and Midtones" from the drop down menu and also the opacity. Try different combinations and see which works well with your portrait. At this point, I have also added some outlines for the nose and smile lines and then used the dodge and burn tools to add some shadow and highlights to give the portrait some depth. Similar steps to creating depth and makeup for the eyes. Photobucket Step 6 Go back to the "Eye" Layer and create a layer called "Eyebrows" above it. Create a path around the eyebrows and fill it with a color picked with the eyedropper tool (I). Step 7 Create a new layer at the top and name it "Mouth." Then draw a path around her mouth and fill it with a color chosen by, YES, the eyedropper tool again (I). A very handy, time-saving tool. Draw the contour around the darker area in the middle of her mouth. Right-click to make it a selection, then open curves (Command + M) and darken it a little. To finish it use the Burn Tool to darken shadow areas around her mouth in both the "Head" and "Mouth" layers. I also used the "stroke" effect to create a lip liner. I just selected the same shade as lips and moved it on the color pallet a bit for a little contrast. Step 8 With the Burn Tool still selected, select the "Body" layer and darken the shadow areas in her neck. Just compare the shadows and highlights in the picture and add any finishing touches to your portrait. Once you get the effect for shadow and highlight, just knock the opacity down so you place the shadows and highlights in the correct places - then put it back up to 100% obviously. Step 9 Select the "Hair" layer. Use the shape line tool and add varying sizes of lines to the hair. These will be the highlights. After you have enough, use the smudge tool to simulate soft, wavy hair. Photobucket Step 10 Look over the portrait and ensure there is nothing you want to tinker with. The beauty of vector portraits is that they can be as detailed or simple as you want. This is somewhere in the middle. Here is my final vector illustrated portrait of Natasha. Photobucket Here is another vector illustrated portrait that I finished today. Photobucket