Category Archives: TAFE

Vixen or Victim – TAFE Film Noir Project

We love our TAFE course. We always learn new stuff and have fun – so what’s not to like about that? Our latest project is to create an image in the film noir genre. Rather than re-pick teams out teacher decided just to use the same teams as for the Cocteau Madness project.

We had the idea of Pegg waiting for a bus (1950’s style) & then playing with shadows let the viewer decide what was about to happen, or had just happened.

Some of the variations included:

  • shooting front-on with a menacing shadow behind her
  • swapping her shadow for another (subtle but spooky)
  • revealing a shadowy figure

Pegg really went to town with this project organising nearly all the associated props and costumes. She was definitely the star of the shoot. Caleb was our “mystery man”, whilst Helen was talent wrangler, props, wardrobe and continuity supervisor.

I hope you like the results, we certainly had fun making them.

Vixen or Victim 1

Vixen or Victim 1

Vixen or Victim 2

Vixen or Victim 2

Vixen or Victim 3

Vixen or Victim 3

Vixen or Victim 4

Vixen or Victim 4

Ms Pegg strikes a pose

Ms Pegg strikes a pose

Mark & Caleb - "blue steel"

Mark & Caleb – “blue steel”

Team Snake

Team Snake

#tafe #filmnoir

TAFE Cocteau Madness Assessment Task


Using the Phillipe Halsmann photograph of Jean Cocteau as a starting point I want your team to design, plan & co-ordinate a shoot and create ONE image for assessment. There are two aims here: to work effectively in a team as well as create an image that is “surreal” in nature. Also, the objective is to capture as much as possible in-camera with little or no post-editing.



Apple is taking over the world. It is so pervasive in its many devices. Apple is stopping us thinking. Everything is within instant reach. Calab is a perfect example of the “connected youth” of day. He regularly multi-tasks, often he is using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all whilst having a conversation.

Calab has been integrated into the iBM iThinkPad. He is part human, part cyborg. He plays with his iPuppy, whilst connected to an array of iPhones, iPads & iPods. He holds an iCream (complete with Apple logo).


Technical Details

It will be shot in an ultra-modern yet grungy style. A backdrop will suggest he is part of the iBerspace Data Cloud. To enhance the theme images of computer circuitry will be projected onto the backdrop. A smoke machine will further embellish the scene. Whilst the interaction of the projected images, studio lights and smoke is an unknown the in-camera effect is expected to be fabulous! An added bonus is that apart from all team members wearing black, the fog should help conceal our bodies and we will morph into Caleb’s central torso.



Whilst the brief only requires one final image, it is envisaged that several variations will be explored. From these a final presentation image will be chosen. We may find that there are too many competing elements that distract, rather than support telling the story. Also, experimentation with arranging the chosen props may be required to achieve a preferred composition.

Alternate expressions may include:

  • Endless stare, where his thoughts are completely engaged with the cloud
  • Laughter at his amusement of a joke a friend has just shared
  • Horror, as the power has just gone off & he is disconnected


Jean Cocteau Original

Jean Cocteau Original Photograph

Concept Sketch

Concept Sketch

Lighting Schematic

Lighting Schematic

Final Image

Final Image

Team Snake - Helen, Caleb, Mark & Peg

Team Snake – Helen, Caleb, Mark & Peg


Just for fun I also did a quick video (18sec) timelapse of setting up the studio

I hope you enjoy!

Eiffel Infographic

Another assessment task from our TAFE course. The brief was to construct a infographic poster from a number of set topics. The poster was also to be based on an aspect ratio of 80 x 30cm. With my engineering background I chose Gustav Eiffel.  Obviously with a name like his most people can assume what he is most famous for. However after conducting some research to help with the poster content I was surprised with the number of significant achievements. These included:

  1. Early adopter eg compressed air caisssons & hollow-cast piers.
  2. Pioneer of insistence that all engineering decisions based on thorough calculation of forces involved. He combined this analytical approach with a high standard of accuracy in drawing & manufacture.
  3. Growth in rail network immense effect on people’s lives, but required many bridges to be built.
  4. Both the Eiffel Tower & the Statue of Liberty are immense symbolic importance – internationally recognized landmarks. Established aesthetic potential of structures whose appearance is largely dictated by practical considerations.
  5. Contribution to science of aerodynamics probably equal to his work as an engineer!

I had several attempts at designing the infographic. These first was really just a quick sketch to see how the elements could fit.

Next I carefully pieced together key elements based on the research. I was happy with the overall composition, but unfortunately I got sucked into too much detail. I also started to incorporate some subtle visual elements such as the stress/strain diagrams as part of the Statue of Liberty gown and the tattoo of the steelwork plan. An infographic’s core function is to convey information to the audience and I think these elements were too obscure.

The final version I altered the aspect to create a vertical panorama and use the idea of linking trusses as a time line. I then added various details of key dates of achievements.

Then I just got silly… I made an Eiffel Tower out of Gustave Eiffels! I hope you enjoy 🙂

Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch


Version One

Version One

Version One - detail

Version One – detail


Final Poster

Final Poster


Gustave Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel Tower


Gustave Eiffel Tower - detail

Gustave Eiffel Tower – detail



Afanador Sketches

Ruven Afanador is a wonderful and creative photographer. His specialty is mostly fashion and celebrity portraits. I can highly recommend looking at his work. The images of Amanda Seyfried are just awesome (those eyes!) However he has another body of work that is probably best described as outrageous.

Refer to the Ruven Afanador website and his books.

Please note this is a purely a drawing exercise for our TAFE class. Our lecturer wants us to get used to a flowing free brush, and not clean stiff analytical tracing. This is actually very challenging! (especially for someone who does not like to colour outside the lines…)

An additional challenge is to use very few different brush types.

The whole objective was to get us to try to draw freely. Instead of getting stuck with the “blank canvas” some of Ruven Avanador confronting portraits from several of his books were used as the basis for our character sketches. We were to use underlying photos to draw several sketches of only one character or element.

These are my first attempts. I really did struggle with this exercise! After quite a few goes I started to get a feel of getting a shading effect by building up brushstrokes. I found that swapping between a black then a white brush and varying the opacity I could get the desired effect.

After the characters we repeated the exercise for trees, clouds and backgrounds from a limited number of supplied photographs.

Once we had a library of elements, the next task was to assemble them using a classic arrangement:

  • foreground (our sketched character)
  • mid-ground (trees)
  • background (European village scene)

Rather than a “conventional” landscape we were to incorporate our sketch elements ensuring that the foreground comprised one of our characters. Further, this element was to dominate the composition.

Don’t worry if you think my sketches are “weird” – they are meant to be! Have a look at Ruven Afanador (under books -> “Mil Besos”) they MAY make more sense then… 🙂


Sketch 1

Sketch One

Sketch 2

Sketch Two

Sketch 3

Sketch Three

Sketch 4

Sketch Four

Sketch 5

Sketch Five


Composite 1

Scene One

Composite 2

Scene Two

Composite 3a

Scene Three

Composite 3b

Scene Four

Art Nouveau Pattern Assignment Part 2

In part 1 I described how I created the patterns for my TAFE assessment task. We were also required to show the use of the patterns. I was wondering how best to display these when I came up with an idea to create a catalogue. Since my patterns are a fusion of Nouveau, Tartan and Alien styles I came up with a set of pattern “Brand” names. I also designed my logo!

I printed the catalogue as A3 photographs and presented as a folio.

The blog resolution has not have adequate resolution to show all the detail, but hopefully you can get a sense of the final designs. “Lace” is my favourite pattern.

Looking at the various patterns it shows that whilst a pattern might look fabulous on an iPad skin, that does not necessarily translate to a dress for instance.

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue cover


Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 01

page 01

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 02

page 02

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 03

page 03

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 04

page 04

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 05

page 05

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 06

page 06

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 07

page 07

Neddy Designs Art Nouveau Catalogue page 08

page 08

#artnouveau #design #ipad #iphone

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Art Nouveau Pattern Assignment Part 1

Our major assessment task this semester was to design our own patterns. The patterns had to be inspired by a particular style such as:

  • Bauhaus
  • 1950’s
  • Art Nouveau

An additional requirement was to show the use of our patterns in various applications including:

  1. Tiles
  2. Fabric
  3. Wallpaper
  4. Phone/iPad skin
  5. Tattoo

During research I was drawn to Japanese styles ie Art Nouveau.

What was not immediately clear was that our lecturer expected us to derive patterns from our own ink drawings! I am not used to drawing freehand so really struggled with this task. In hindsight my approach was wrong as I had a particular Art Nouveau design that I was trying to reproduce and not concentrate on just making interesting marks, patterns and shapes. I persevered and ended up with some 43 pages of various blobs and brush strokes.

Ink Marks used for Art Nouveau patterns

Ink drawings used as pattern components

I numbered, then scanned each page as a PDF. The originals served as a quick reference catalogue. From each page I picked only a tiny part then assembled a pattern by copy past  and transforming the components. A pattern was then very quickly created by simply duplicating the group of components, occasionally offsetting or reflecting. A final step was a matter of replicating as required then filling in with different colours.

Art Nouveau how to build a pattern

How to build a pattern

I was amazed! from maybe 4 brushstrokes I was able to create a whole set of different and varied patterns. It looks like I have an endless supply of material that could be used.  Also, now I know how brushstrokes can be used, I would focus a lot more on just form and shape rather than trying to create an entire pattern component.

Mark Kelly Art Nouveau Pattern 02

Pattern 02

Mark Kelly Art Nouveau Pattern 03

Pattern 03

Mark Kelly Art Nouveau Pattern 04

Pattern 04

Mark Kelly Art Nouveau Pattern 08

Pattern 08

Mark Kelly Art Nouveau Pattern 09

Pattern 09

#artnouveau #patterns

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How To Make Fine Art Photos That Appear As Etchings

As part of a TAFE poster assignment, I had mocked up a couple of different layouts. I thought rather than spend a lot of time and effort on an idea that may not work, I would complete a rough sketch. Unfortunately, I could not find a sketch that suited my needs but I found a suitable photo that I converted into a sketch instead.

I remembered that I had some time ago developed a method of taking making a fine art photo that appeared as if it were an etching. I certainly do not claim to be the first, or that this technique is unique, just that it can give interesting results when the following these steps.

Step 1A – Take photo (subjects that are sharp and contain a lot of detail generally work best).

Step 1B – Make 2 x copies of the background – (this will leave a spare copy of the colour to re-arrange layers in Step 6)

Step 2 – On the second copy of background Use “Find Edges” filter (result will depend on each image).

Step 3 – Use “Find Edges” filter again (optional – may give an improved result when filter is applied again).

Step 4 – Convert to monochrome (lots of different techniques available – try image->adjust->desaturate or for greater flexibility add a Black and White adjustment layer).

Step 5 – Increase contrast (again lots of different techniques available – try adjusting curves by making an “S” bend or using levels).

Step 6 – Flatten all layers (EXCEPT the spare coloured one), then re-arrange layer order so the monochrome etch layer is sitting below the original coloured photo, and start painting some of the colour visibility.

(NOTE I use a black and white copy of the image as a mask. I then paint on the mask using a 10-20% opacity soft brush to gradually reveal the colour. I find multiple applications of a low opacity often give a better result than a single brush stroke at high opacity. Also the colour layer has reduced opacity to give colours that “watery” look)

Step 7 – Continue using a low-opacity soft brush to brush through colour from underlying photo.

Step 8 – Finish image with sepia background

NOTE there is no “right” or “wrong” way, you just have to experiment. Sorry, if you are looking for an automated conversion, this is not it. What I like about the technique is that the hand-painted colour has a very attractive artistic  style.

Also somewhere between Steps 4 and 5 you could also consider removing or fading any distracting elements (such as messy backgrounds)

I have also discovered that some images just do not work well with this technique. It is a case of just experimenting to see what works for you and hopefully this article will help getting you started.


Waratah etching step 01

Step 0 – take photo

Waratah etching step 02

Step 2 – apply filter “find edges”

Waratah etching step 03

Step 3 – try applying “find edges” filter again

Waratah etching step 04

Step 4 – convert to monochrome

Waratah etching step 05

Step 5 – increase contrast

Waratah etching step 06

Step 6 – start hand painting to reveal colour

Waratah etching step 07

Step 7 – continue brushing through colour

Waratah etching step 08

Step 8 – finish with sepia background

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Mad Hatters

Two of our recent class tasks required us to use Photoshop to create montages.

The brief consisted of creating  two crazy hats (one for him, another for her):

Exercise 1: Her Most Fabulous Hat

Using the renaissance profile image provided, create an image in Photoshop with the following dimensions :

30cm wide x 80 cm height @ 300 res

NOTE: the woman’s head must be at the bottom of the image and her hat must be the tallest thing ever seen.

This is an exercise in IMAGINATION composing a vertical image, by creating a collage by cutting and pasting in Photoshop.

The main thing is that you use found images to construct her most fabulous hat…that is a big vertical hat.

This is GRAPHIC : think Poster as opposed to a painting – “The Madder The Better!”

Exercise 2: His Most Fabulous Hat

Same as previous exercise, using the statue of David as the starting point. However this time construct a hat made of ancient SCULPTURE parts.You will need to think how your collage will work matching the marble look of David.

Note the angle of the head is from the bottom looking up: you may consider having his hat getting smaller at the top to complete the perspective illusion.


My first interpretation came about researching the Renaissance. I kept discovering references to Archimedes, cranes, pulleys and similar devices. You will notice from the detail images that all the parts connect and there is a flow between them.

Some have commented that maybe this piece could represent how a woman thinks, but I will let you draw your own conclusions…


“Vitruvious Woman”

“Vitruvious Woman – Detail 1”

“Vitruvious Woman – Detail 2”

“Vitruvious Woman – Detail 3”


For a bit of fun, I then created Marg’s Family Tree. You can see I even included Santa’s Little Helper!

“Marg’s Family Tree”

“Marg’s Family Tree” – Detail 1

“Marg’s Family Tree” – Detail 2

“Marg’s Family Tree” – Detail 3


His hat at first was much harder to settle on a suitable design concept.  I had quite a few false starts with stacking various statue components together. These initial attempts were frustrating as I  just could not seem to arrange the pieces satisfactorily. After a while I realised that repeating elements seemed to work best for me.

I have called this first piece “Under Control”. In the details you will notice that a duplicated Nike figure (with extended wings) has long puppet-like controls to David’s golden lion epaulettes. Also, the column is actually composed of repeated and inverted Colosseums.

“Under Control”

“Under Control” – detail 1

“Under Control” – detail 2

“Under Control” – detail 3

Inspired by the repeating pattern concept, I then used horse head figures to create “Better A Horses Head Than Arse”. I love how the repeating pattern of horse heads looks like a spine.

Notice in the detail the top of the hat is a distorted image of The Duomo in Florence (which is just up the street from the Museum where David is on display).


“Better A Horses Head Than Arse”

“Better A Horses Head Than Arse” – Detail 1

“Better A Horses Head Than Arse” – Detail 2

“Better A Horses Head Than Arse” – Detail 3

By the third piece I was just getting silly, but having a huge amount of fun. I think it is funny that at first everyone thinks they are lovely butterflies arranged on a stem, until they have a closer look….


*********************** NOTE **********************

Do not scroll down if you are offended by male genitalia…







“Dick-Head” – Detail 1

“Dick-Head” – Detail 2

“Dick-Head” – Detail 3

Wine Label Design Project

I am in the middle of my first major assignment for my TAFE visual arts design course. Our brief is that Enigma Distilleries, which currently brews beer wishes to enter the wine market. They anticipate producing five types of up-market organic wines and require a series of groovy labels created. We are to produce five Constructivist styled labels and five Saul Bass styled labels. Part of the brief is to show our research and ideas as we work through the design process.

The five types of wine are:

  • Botrytis
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Sparkling Wine

I started researching labels by wandering through the local bottle-shops. I know nothing about wines, but I do like a nice label!  I also searched extensively on-line. Please note that  in Google images there is a really cool feature of “similar”, so if you find an image you really like, you can filter your search based on images that maybe visually similar to that selected image. Mr Google does not always get it right, but it is a really handy feature.

I also started thinking about possible characteristics of each type of wine in terms of colours and personalities.

My thoughts for “Personalities” for Styles are:

  • Riesling – light, fresh, zingy (fairy, sprite, Elf?)
  • Botrytis – sweet, dessert, temptation, (Eve – danger/desire?)
  • Chardonnay – elegant, refined, (queen, regal lady)
  • Sparkling White – bubbles, celebration, (fairy, sprite)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – full-bodied, powerful, strong, dominant (Ring leader, bull fighter, Centaur)

My thoughts for “Colours” for Styles are:

  • Riesling – green, lime, melon
  • Botrytis – honey, alluring red,
  • Chardonnay – white, silver, pale yellow
  • Sparkling White – gold, bright yellow, white
  • Cabernet Sauvignon –  deep red, maybe dark purple

The first series attempted I was inspired by the classic Constructivist design approach of simple exploding shapes:


Simple – Botrytis

Simple -Cabernet Sauvignon

Simple – Chardonnay

Simple – Riesling

Simple -Sparkling

This is what the collection looks like together:


Simple Constructivist Style Series

The next series are based on the Russian Propaganda Posters which used a cyrillic font with two letters BO, CS, CH, RL and SW as the background. This font made the background consist of graphic shapes than recognisable letters.

I liked the way that the background interacts with the text. The effect is easy to achieve. Simply create a duplicate of the text. Colour one version white and the other black. Make sure the black text is on a layer above the white one. Then using magic wand select anywhere on the red background. The select the black text layer, then while the selection is current, choose “add mask” to the black text layer. Since the mask matches the background shapes, they will be hidden – revealing the white text.

The subtle addition of a wine glass typical of the style of wine I feel adds a nice element.

This is what the second collection looks like together:


The third series I thought I would try to use sorts of personalities that I thought might be associated with each wine type. I then used clip art as the basis for characters.

Saul Bass - Botrytis

Saul Bass - Cabernet Sauvignon

Saul Bass - Chardonnay

Saul Bass - Sparkling


This is how the third series looks like as a collection:


Currently all designs are just ideas and definitely are a work-in-progress. However I am having fun and it is sure different using Photoshop with hard edges, shapes and text than applying local adjustments with a big soft brush.