An Illuminating Hour with Witchoria
Victoria Siemer, also known as Witchoria, is a visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. She works primarily in the digital realm, creating quirky, surreal photo manipulations. Her work often addresses the pleasures and pitfalls of romantic relationships, so we thought, “Who better to join us for a Valentine’s Day date with Photoshop?” In our live “Create With” session on February 14, 2017, Witchoria shared her Adobe Photoshop CC techniques for bringing a daytime photo into night, adding illuminated text to an image, and creating a GIF that mimics flickering neon. (You can watch the entire hour-long session at the bottom of this page.)
STEP ONE: CHOOSE A PHOTO
She recommends starting with an outdoor photo that doesn’t have intense shadows or harsh bright light (as it is harder to give those photos a nighttime look).
STEP TWO: ADD BLUE
Taking a cue from the way that film editors make footage shot during the day look as if it had been shot at night, Witchoria adds a blue tint to her photo (although she has experimented with other tones).
STEP THREE: ADJUST LIGHT LEVELS
Witchoria avoids the Image > Adjustments menu options, because those tools permanently edit pixels. Instead, she uses adjustment layers (accessible via the half-circle icon at the bottom of the Layers panel), which allow for nondestructive experimentation. (Learn more about adjustment layers.)
STEP FOUR: ADD TEXT
Using the typeface Futura (as a nod to Stanley Kubrick, a Futura devotee), as she frequently does, Witchoria adds text on a layer.
STEP FIVE: ADD LIGHT TO THE ENVIRONENT
Witchoria duplicates the background layer, drags that duplicate to be right below the text layer (the order of the other layers doesn’t matter as much), and adds a layer mask (so that all her edits are nondestructive). Then she begins “painting light” into the darkness by removing the color she added earlier, using Photoshop’s Eraser tool. She starts with the tool’s flow set very low, because the effect should be subtle. Click on the image to watch her explain this step.
In the full video (at the bottom of this page), Witchoria demonstrates this process twice. As a bonus, she also shows how she turns an image created this way into a GIF that emulates flickering neon, with some letters blinking on and off:
STEP SIX: DUPLICATING YOUR IMAGE
First, she follows all the steps for making a static image (outlined above).
STEP SEVEN: ADJUSTING SHADOWS AND ADDING FRAMES TO THE TIMELINE
Of course, when N turns off, the light cast by the words will change, so Witchoria subtly removes the the light that would’ve been cast by the N.
Turning a Photoshop file into a GIF is easy—just use the Timeline feature to create a frame animation (learn more about creating frame animations).
Watch our entire hour-long Valentine’s Day session with Witchoria: