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January 03, 2006

Photoshop as Time Machine

Author Cherie Priest, whose Flickr-based exhibition streak is even wider than my own, recently posted a set of potential book jacket photos which feature her in a really excellent dress of the sort that you'd see on an ingenue in an MGM musical. So I fired up the Photoshop and gave one of the photos the black-and-white 1940s glamor treatment, which you can see above. I think it turned out well, and I'm glad to see my Photoshop editing skills are not limited to turning dear family members into bloodsucking monstrosities. Ms. Priest liked it well enough to put it in her Flickr photostream, so that's a positive. All those hours of playing with Photoshop when I should have been writing are finally paying off.

Having said that, this is by far the best picture in the set, and needs not a bit of Photoshoppery. Hot redhead, great dress and a sense of humor? Hard to beat that (unless, of course, she also happens to write fine books).

Sadly, none of my author photos look as good as any in Ms. Priest's set. Clearly, I need to find a more fabulous dress.

Posted by john at January 3, 2006 09:57 AM

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Cherie Priest | January 3, 2006 10:35 AM

Haha! Many thanks again, darling. In truth, this was just a "dress up and play" session with a camera; I figured if we both had fun with it, a few good (potential author/book) shots were bound to come of it.


John Scalzi | January 3, 2006 10:42 AM

I think you may be right, Cherie. Very nice pictures in any event.

I'm also glad you considered the picture in the correct "here's some guy having fun with Photoshop" context and not the "hmmm, this has a creepy stalker vibe" context. One does wish to stay on the right side of that particular line.

PeterP | January 3, 2006 11:46 AM

Nice. She just needs the long cigarette holder to be straight out of any black and white movie...

Martin Wagner | January 3, 2006 12:43 PM

I kind of prefer this one to the one above, although that one I do agree looks more "classic Hollywood" when converted to B&W.

dgm | January 3, 2006 01:01 PM

with all due respect, sir, the fabulous dress would be meaningless without the cleavage.

John Scalzi | January 3, 2006 01:13 PM

I could make cleavage. But you wouldn't like it.

PeterP | January 3, 2006 03:00 PM

Wow. Literate, attractive, and successful.

Is she single? ;-)

John Scalzi | January 3, 2006 03:02 PM

Not for long. She's getting married in March.

PeterP | January 3, 2006 03:20 PM


Justine Larbalestier | January 3, 2006 05:10 PM

Scalzi, my tip for improving your own author photo would be to not take it yourself by holding the camera out in front of your face, thus giving you that weird "I'm holding a camera out in front of my face look". You don't really need to go to the extreme lengths of a dress and make up---getting someone else to take the photo would be just fine.

John Scalzi | January 3, 2006 05:35 PM

Maybe... or I could wear a better dress.

Martin Wagner | January 3, 2006 06:07 PM

Cue Brando voice..."The horror...the horror..."

Soni | January 3, 2006 06:14 PM

Cue Brando voice..."The horror...the horror..."

Eeeeiiiiiii! My eyes! My eyes!

For shame, Martin. For shame. That is just so wrong on so many levels.

John Scalzi | January 3, 2006 06:14 PM

Martin, that just pushed my "creeped-out" meter all the way into the red. Good job!

Justine Larbalestier | January 3, 2006 06:40 PM

Not even the most beautiful dress in the world will save a photo featuring scrunch neck.

andrew | January 4, 2006 04:23 AM

May I ask the recipe to do that to a photo? Happy if you reply by email when time permits if it's too arduous to write up quickly.

Stuart MacBride | January 4, 2006 05:09 AM

Ha! That 'Peeps' pic is bloody brilliant!

John Scalzi | January 4, 2006 05:33 AM

Andrew, assuming you're familiar with Photoshop CS2:

It's basically desaturate, healing brush to even out skin tone, copy result to new layer, use gaussian blur on that layer and then fade it back 50-60% for the classic "soft focus" look. Then increase the contrast. I also used the "liquify" tool on CS2 for a bit of tweaking. That's pretty much it.

andrew | January 4, 2006 06:15 AM

Yup. Familiar. And thanks.

Oh, and is the time of post accurate? 5:09am. Are you up, or still up?

andrew | January 4, 2006 06:15 AM

Eck! 5:33am I should have typed.

John Scalzi | January 4, 2006 07:22 AM

Yeah, I'm up. Went to sleep early, got up early. Happens sometimes.

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