Noscope September: Open House


Update: Noscope September has been launched.

Continuing the relatively modest success of last months “Open House”, I once again invite you to criticize my work while I am doing it.


Every month I present 5 illustrations in my Installments section. This “Open House” thread will serve as an option for you to comment on the particular illustrations I am working on. It serves as valuable feedback and makes the whole process much more interesting for me.

I will be working on the pieces for until the 31st of August. Until then comments are open.

Theme & Idea

The theme for September is at the moment rather vague. I want it all to be fairly straight forward and simple—not take up too much time. Thus I will be working with some pictures I took at a trip to Sweden recently. The visual style will be a mix of a movie poster I saw at a cafe in Copenhagen, and the style from the intro to Six Feet Under.

The result I’ll be aiming for is a combination of the faux raster marks from the movie poster (damned if I can remember the movie title), and the aesthetic, monochromatic colors, textures, blur and lighting from Six Feet Under (here’s an example). The colors are all earthy, greenish and turquoise. Turquoise in specific is a color I find to be very hard to work with, and as such the choice of colors is also an attempt at furthering my skills in that direction.

Todo list

In order to provide up a complete Noscope serving, the following must be done:

  • Image 1
  • Image 2
  • Image 3
  • Image 4
  • Image 5
  • Choose name
  • Choose song
  • Choose header image
  • Design background and borders for installments
  • Upload and test
  • Adjustments
  • Write newsletter
  • Write journal entry

Image 1

The first image is always the most difficult in the process, because it has to define the visual style of the rest of the images.

I started out with a photo that had some lighting I liked. I added raster-like textures by painting shades of grey, then applying the Color Halftone filter (Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone). If one sets all 4 screen angles to the same number, it’ll produce a uniform effect.


While fairly satisfied with this interim piece, I wanted to make it lighter, and have a sort of border.


… the result was not entirely satisfactory, and still needs work. I’m hoping for a mix of the two above images.


After tweaking fixing and adjusting colors and border, I’m finally satisfied with the result. I added a scratched number in the bottom left, because I think it looks cool.

Image 2

For the second image, I want to build and improve on what went well in image 1. In my opinion, this is the colors, the texture and the rasters. I will definately want to add more rasters to this one.


I’m a sucker for reds lately. I’ll be adding lots of texture now.


After the interim picture, I noticed the colors were just a tad too saturated and not earthy enough to fit with the first picture in the series, so I downplayed the red a bit. I’m fairly satisfied, but open to suggestions of course.

Image 3


It was initially my mission to go turquoise, but I failed miserably in doing so with image 2, so I’m going to try again. This picture will need a lot of work, also because the original one had a fair amount of motion blur.


While certainly better than the interim version, I’m not entirely satisfied with this piece. I am, however, out of ideas as to what to do with it, so I’ll let it rest here for a while. It might possibly just end up the final version, I don’t know yet.


There. Much better. Not the best of the images, in my opinion, but definately good enough. Now on to image 4.

Image 4


I like the motiv of the tree, and like that it’s so light. It will be a challenge though, considering light images are among my weaknesses. I hope to extend the grass in the front of the picture.


The reconstruction of the grass in front and the trees on the left and right went much better than expected, and a stalemate with the colors was pretty much solved by a fluke of yellow. I’m fairly satisfied and moving on.


Based on feedback, I have adjusted the “yellow corners”. The final result is much nicer.

Image 5


I’m not sure I like the photo, and I certainly don’t like the colors, but conflict is good. Sometimes.


I think I kinda wimped out on this one. When I don’t like the motive or colors, I tend to go with the colors I’m strong with, and just over saturate and paint the image. The end result came out just fine, but it was definately the cowards way out. Ideally I’d have gone light and easy on the image, added less color, etc. Oh well.


It’s always strange, when having done 5 images on a common theme, to look at the final pieces and compare them to what was in my minds eye. It never fails—the image in my minds eye slowly disappears with each image being created. When they’re all done, I have no memory left of what I wanted to create. The only thing remaining, is a feeling of whether I hit the target or not.

This time, I didn’t. I seem to remember wanting to use the raster dots in a different way—but I can’t put my finger on what. I think I got caught up in textures and colors.

With that said, I am satisfied in the end result. Many of the pictures are much lighter than I usually make them, and it definately has a sensation of “old” to it. Furthermore, I managed to use some colors I haven’t used in a long time—the very turquoise spectrum I set out to use.

The music I chose definately defined the whole mood. One can only do so much with colors and textures to achieve an atmosphere—and then upon adding music, it can change everything just like that. Specifically, there were two tracks I chose between. One would have given the images a mystic, strange almost post-apocalyptic feel. The other one (which I ended up choosing), would give the sensation of fond but also sad memories of the past—but definately a lighter tone.

The music I can pick from is composed (and lyrics written and performed) by the painfully talented Kate. It’s such a humbling experience to add music to my graphics, if I’m satisfied with the pictures, it is nothing until the music is added. If I am disappointed and not too happy with my graphics, the music will make it all work. It brings me to my knees, because no matter how hard I try, I never seem to be able to match up graphics with music. The music is timeless and trancends everything I create. For allowing me to use her music, I am forever grateful.

The music for this month is called Gelid, and the track is available on the Aqua Path CD, which you can order, or download for 10 USD (plus shipping) directly at For that, you get 60 minutes of ambient music, including another favourite of mine, Sea Glass. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I chose the name “Frozen”, from the song, Gelid. In addition, it fit well with the images—some of them were cold, they all had icy like textures, and they were all pictures frozen in time.

20 thoughts on “Noscope September: Open House”

  1. Nik says:

    CooL! Firstly, (and slightly off topic) I love the new photos, will take a closer look when I get more time, but that trusty Ixus is still going strong! 🙂

    I like the colours in the first image a lot… It’s weird how when lightening the image and adding the border it seems to lose a little of it’s impact?

    Cool colours tho, look forward to experiencing the finished work!


  2. Joen says:

    Still going strong indeed! The good thing about an old camera like this is, I know exactly how to control all aspects of it now—I just want more features and higher resolution now 🙂

    Indeed it does lose some impact, and it wasn’t until having finished the second iteration of it that I noticed. I managed to add some leathery texture to the left side of the images, and it’s pretty much been sacrificed. I’ll try and dig that up again. Thanks for the advice.

  3. Joen says:

    Okay I tweaked the image and saturated it again. Much better, me thinks. Good advice.

  4. Nik says:

    Looks much stronger… Just looking at the image I notice the sunshine spots on the table… I wonder how it would work if you could affect the intensity of one or two of the individual sun spots (very subtley of course!) – perhaps on cursor position.

    actually maybe that idea sucks… 😀

  5. Joen says:

    Hehe, no that idea doesn’t suck, and in fact I already did that. I dodged the sunspots a little bit to lighten them. Or wait, you mean in Flash? Damn yeah that would be nice—but I’m predicting that I’ll be too lazy to do that.

    Almost 3 images done, though 🙂

  6. Nik says:

    Yeh, I thought it might be cool to do it in Flash but you’re right in that it would be a lot of work to get it right… 😀

    I like the look of the third image in it’s second generation… I like the texture effect in the bottom right hand corner, but the scratch seems a little obvious and my eye get’s drawn to it. Maybe it could be toned down a little in this image?

    Waaaay better than anything I could do tho! 😀 I’m hardly in a position to offer constructive criticism!

  7. Nik says:

    hmm… It’s been a long day, I meant bottom-left! Sorry.

  8. Joen says:

    You’re absolutely right… that scratch does annoy the eye doesn’t it? And now you mention it, it’s as though that whole bottom left corner kinda punches the air out of the image… hmm. I think maybe if I restored some of the grass and tank picture detail there it would balance out… (and of course make that scratch more transparent!)

    Thanks so much for your criticism! Please do keep it coming. I find that designs such as those I make this month are more an expression of skill in Photoshop than it is about skill in design.

  9. Nik says:

    The 3rd generation of Image3 looks much better… the scratch being more transparent doesn’t distract the eye from the rest of the image. I really like the colours in the image too.. they seem to fit the subject matter perfectly.

    Image4 in it’s 1st generation looks awesome anyway… but very cold… I can see why you have used yellow, it adds an element of warmth I think, but maybe it would be possible to make the blend between the yellow and the blue a bit more subtle? perhaps adding some to areas around the image, to avoid the ‘corners’ effect?

    Image5 looks wicked, I remember noticing this one when I view the original gallery, the wasp(bee?) looks so sharp, and the way the cup (if that’s what it’s called?) of the flower has captured the sunlight.

    Cool work… looks forward to the installment! 😀

  10. Joen says:

    You’re absolutely right about the bottom corners of Image 4. I hadn’t noticed that until you mentioned it. I simply have to fix that—I’ll just pick music and name first.

    As for the wasp image, yes it was so lucky. Those pictures are so hard to take, because you only really have a few seconds until the wasp leaves—the images often get shaky. But it was just one of those perfectly lit days—total fluke.

    I used a Smart Blur filter on that picture, by the way—the flower became ultra crisp! It’s the same effect used on those (totally awesome btw) random pictures on I wonder if he took those pictures himself…

  11. Joen says:

    Phew. All launched.

    I haven’t made the change you suggested to image 4 yet, but I will. I’ll just rest a ‘lil bit first.

    The newsletter has been sent, the journal entry written, and the header uploaded. The header and journal entry should appear automatically once the clock strikes twelve.

  12. Nik says:

    Nice work!

    Just about to check out the final installment… 😀

  13. Christopher says:

    I actually think I like the image of the boards (a deck I assume) the most. I like the texture of it and the hue. This will sound hoky but it just has a meditated stillness about it, a “I can’t stop staring into space” kind of feel. Calm.

    Regarding your Ixus, if you’d like a recommendation the Canon A80 is quite nice. There wouldn’t be much of a learning curve as the A series and the Ixus (Elph) series share a good deal in interface. Also, the A80 is relatively cheap.

  14. Joen says:


    Thanks. That’s actually the image I like the most as well. It’s taken from my treehouse, so it’s a wooden “floor”. The treehouse is some 2? meters up in our apple tree, so that also explains the distance to the ground in the top right part.

    I like the image because of the texture—it blends well from the left side, and into the “floor”.

    The Canon A80 looks great, but I’m actually looking for… what’s it called… a “real” camera with a proper lens, the kind of camera where you could switch the lens out with, for instance, a tele lens. Digital still, and atleast 6 megapixels. I wouldn’t mind if it was expensive either, just not really expensive.

  15. Nik says:

    I’d recommend the Nikon D-Series of SLR’s. The D70 has an ‘effective’ pixel of 6.1

    I the D100 is also very nice, but it bit more pricey.

    I used to have the F5 and would always recommend Nikon! 😀

  16. Joen says:

    Great suggestions! I really should make this a thread in itself. For now, I’ll keep looking. I am hopefully moving soon, which will cost me a buck or two, so any investments will have to wait until after moving, after a new computer, after a new wacom 🙂

  17. Christopher says:

    I can second the D70 recommendation. A friend of mine got one a few months ago. I won’t get into the Canon vs. Nikon debate though. 🙂 Too many friends lost that way.

    Have you heard about the new Wacom Intuos 3s? They unveiled them at PhotoshopWorld a couple days ago. Drool.

  18. Joen says:

    No, I haven’t heard about that Intuos! … And I can’t seem to find photos of it. Tell me more!

  19. Christopher says:

    I knew you were going to say that. I couldn’t remember where I’d heard about it earlier and I knew Wacom doesn’t have anything on their site about it yet. But, you’re in luck. One of my neurons must have just woke up and I did a search of my recent RSS feeds.


  20. ade says:

    Joen would like to say this new installment for september is really. Lots of intricate detail. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, i def dig my friend. I would comment more frequently.

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