Yggdrasil Dying

An important aspect of art is establishing a purpose for your work. I have been reading “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman recently and given our current political climate, knew I wanted to create something that comments on our difficulties with climate change and anti-science rhetoric and how it is effecting our planet. I thought the Norse myth of Yggdrasil and Erda were perfect for this.

Yggdrasil is the tree of life in Norse mythology. She is an ash tree whose branches encompass all the mythical worlds. Her branches reach the heavens and her roots make up all the worlds of Gods and giants. Erda, the Norse Earth Goddess, lives in a cave deep in the earth which rotates around and waters the roots of Yggdrasil with knowledge. This is what helps Yggdrasil grow and stretch to the heavens and give shade and protection to all. With that flow of wisdom and knowledge interrupted, Yggdrasil will die.

Once I had my purpose established, I went searching for inspiration. I found a tutorial for horror movie poster on the Digital Arts website that fit: (http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/tutorials/photoshop/design-highbrow-horror-movie-poster/).

I gathered my images from Adobe Stock Images. I used the image of a woman in a yoga pose ( https://stock.adobe.com/stock-photo/nude-yoga-beautiful-sexy-body-of-young-woman-on-black-background/94431005) and the image of a dead tree (https://stock.adobe.com/stock-photo/dead-tree-without-leaves-isolated/82092883), along with some free-for-reuse background textures and a Wicca triangular design.

I started by putting the background together. I created a 3500 X 4700 Pixel portrait background and dragging the background texture over. After converting it to a smart object, I resized it larger than the frame to get the areas I wanted in it. I then used the white and black brushes to highlight the center and darken the edges to keep the viewer’s eyes centered. I then dragged in the cracked earth image for the ground and used the free transform tool to stretch it into the background and used the multiply blend mode. I used the white brush to blend the sharp edges into the background a bit and darkened up the corners a bit more. Once I had the ground in, I placed the Wicca Symbol using the soft light blending mode, then applied a gradient map to the entire background in the color blending mode. The Wicca symbol helps to balance the empty space between the tree and the female figure.

Next came the female figure. I used the channel masking technique and pen tool to cut the figure from the original, then dragged it over and resized it. I created a new layer and painted in a shadow under her using the black brush. I then adjusted the hue, saturation, brightness, and contrast. I then applied a green photo filter and adjusted it down a bit. Next came the texture. I dragged the texture over the figure, then ctrl+clicked the image cutout to select it and applied a layer mask in overlay blending mode. I used the black and white brush tool to refine the texture. After she was textured, I then used a grass brush to paint grass on the top of her back. Next came the roots on her back and legs. This was a tedious process of creating roots, copying them, and then using the free transform tool, stretching and shaping them over the figure to look like they were draping over her. In order to apply the texture I had to combine all the copies, then use the same texture application technique that I used on her to give the flat black a bit of depth. I also added a drop shadow effect and a bevel and emboss effect to give a bit more depth.

Next came the tree. This was pretty straightforward. I cut the image from the original using channel masking like I did the female figure and then dragged and dropped it into the image. I converted it to smart art and resized it and placed it. I played around with the blending mode before settling on Pass Through and then applied the same green photo filter that I used on the figure. I also adjusted the color balance and the hue and saturation. Since the tree was such high resolution, the bark detail really stood out more than I wanted and clashed with the other elements in the image, so i applied a Gaussian blur to blend it a bit better.

After all the elements were in place, I adjusted the figure and tree image in the center to achieve the best balance and lighted up some of the darker edges I created to compensate for the image movement.

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