Sunday, August 15, 2010


“How to Build a Super-Hero”

According to the Wikipedia entry, the first version of the digital image editing application named Photoshop was created in 1988 by Thomas Knoll, a PhD student at University of Michigan. It has since evolved along with ever more powerful and faster personal computing systems to become the forerunner of digital image editing and creation programs. “Photoshop” is colloquially used as a verb to mean digital photographic manipulation.

With it, I created this conceptual image of Tuff-Girl.

Much of the photographic source material I grabbed from online Halloween costume retail sites. The advantage of this is that the photography is often clear, with fairly consistent camera angles and lighting, and across any given site’s catalog there are thousands of costume pieces.

The strategy is to start with a body posture and blouse or top that works best and add arms, legs and heads as needed. Since Tuff-Girl’s costume is ever changing, certain costume pieces can be different from what appears in her first comic adventure. In this process, skirts are that magic item for a couple of reasons: 1) they’re usually cute; 2) they usually easily hide where cropped legs are supposed to be connected to the hips.

Maggie O’Connell from the 1990 television series “Northern Exposure” played by Janine Turner was a major inspiration for the character of Tuff-Girl, not the least of which what she (a.k.a. Debby) looks like. Choosing actors from television series that are widely available in collections of DVDs or what ever the consumer accessible formats there be, is supposed to improve the consistency of drawing the characters. However, it’s not perfect. I subsequently decided that Debby is only about 5-foot tall and half-Asian.

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