A Project in Photoshop
While I was in college getting my art degree, I took a class called Digital Manipulation. The aim of the class was to teach us how to use programs such as Photoshop to manipulate images to convey a story, lesson, or concept. As a final project I chose to use the mythological story of Daphne being transformed into a tree. “Daphne Revisited,” the image above, is the final result of my effort.
To understand what is going on in image, let’s first examine the story itself. In mythology, Daphne, a nymph, was the object of Apollo’s affection. It all came about after Apollo, the son of Zeus and a skilled archer, defeated Python. Apollo saw Eros (cupid) sporting with his bow and arrow. Feeling his oats, Apollo insulted Eros by implying that Eros was not as skilled at using weapons as Apollo himself was. To vindicate himself, Eros forged two arrows: one made of gold, and the other made of lead. The gold arrow had the power of love. Anyone shot with this arrow would fall helplessly in love with the first being they saw. The lead arrow held the power to rebuff love.
Eros shot Apollo through the heart with the gold arrow. Apollo immediately saw and fell head-over-heels in love with Daphne. But the treacherous Eros then shot Daphne through the heart with the lead arrow, causing her to be repulsed by the thought of falling in love. Apollo pursued the nymph through the ages. Growing weary of his advances, Daphne called out to her father, Peneus, the god of the river, to help her. Peneus eventually heeded the pleas of his daughter. In an effort to save her from Apollo’s relentless pursuit, he transformed Daphne into a tree. Even then, legend has it, Apollo cradled the branches of the tree and covered its bark with kisses.
To illustrate the story of Daphne, I took three images: a photo of tree silhouetted against the sky, an image of a nude model, and another of the sunset. I combined these images using Photoshop to cut out certain elements of each and to layer them together. First, I darkened the model to make a silhouette and aligned the model and the tree as best I could. I then used the smudge tool to blend the model’s head and arms into the branches of the tree. This gave the illusion of the two becoming one. I placed the resulting image in front of the sunset to highlight the silhouetted effect of the model and tree.
To suggest the passing of time, I duplicated the final image, lengthened the canvas to accommodate both pictures, and turned the left image around to face the right. Then, using the Warp tool, I curled the lower left edges to suggest time’s passing through the insinuation of multiple pages, wherein the model becomes joined with the tree as she walks toward the final image on the right side of the picture. The final product is seen at the top of this page. BTW – I got an “A” for the project.