Coffee and Cakes

AFTER SUCH a busy year, Christmas gives us a good excuse for catching up with friends . . . and Barbara’s chocolate cake proves popular.

It’s also a chance to meet my youngest great nephew Ted, although he proves too active for me to catch more than a few impressions as he moves about the room. At 10 months he’s not yet walking.

One of the mysteries of family gatherings is that one moment the room is full of people, the next they’ve all gone off in different directions, but this does at least mean that I can have a change from following a moving target to draw an armchair instead.

Adding Texture

Here’s a Photoshop technique that my friend John Welding showed me yesterday when we called on him and Helen for coffee and Ecclefechan tarts (from the town of that name in Dumfries and Galloway, an alternative to mince pies).

1. Fill with colour: Starting with the drawing that I made of the armchair, I add a flat colour in the normal way, which, for me, involves cutting out the white background of the image so that I’ve just got the pen and ink line and the rest is transparent, then filling an armchair-shaped selection on the layer beneath with colour.

2. Find a texture: I take a photograph of a texture, in this case it’s the canvas of one of my art-bags.

3. Add overlay: I add the texture as an overlay on a new layer which goes over the colour, but beneath the pen and ink line.

The settings that you use when you create this texture layer are important; you should select the option ‘overlay’. Obvious really. Then experiment with the transparency until you get the effect you’re after. You can easily change this later. For the purposes of demonstration, I’ve used 84% to make it obvious but John suggested around 20% transparency which can give you the kind of subtle effects that you might associate with watercolour, printmaking, wax-resist or scrafitto (scratching through a layer of paint or of a glaze in pottery).

He’d normally use a more random texture, such as fur or rusted metal.

I look forward to doing some further experiments so that I can feel confident enough to add the overlay technique to my limited repertoire of Photoshop skills.

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