Automatic Drawing Summary Collage

For my last project I wanted to try to revisit some concepts and artists that we covered over the past 12 weeks. My motivation was to create a digital collage from an automatic drawing that featured images that I had saved over the semester.

We started by creating an automatic drawing on a sheet of 8.5 by 11 printer paper. For this project the size of the automatic drawing was not really important because the next step is digitizing the drawing. A sheet of printer paper fit perfectly on my scanner but any size could have been used. Additional items used were a high end custom desktop PC loaded with the open source GIMP imaging manipulation program (


Here we have the raw scanned image of the automatic drawing. The lines were burly and poorly defined. Also there were some dark areas from bends and dirt on the paper. The background would need to be white and the lines would need to be black and fully defined for this to work.

This shows a before an after section of the drawing which has been magnified 3x. Notice how clean the lines are on the right (after) image. There must be a translation from black directly to white with no fading between. If it is not clean then the images will not show around the outline correctly.


Here is the full drawing with the color threshold fixed. This was done so that only the darkest part of the black line would show and the rest of the image would be white (transparent). This is necessary so that only the desired images would show through with no distortions from poor scanner quality.


The processes involved free-form tracing the outline of a section from the scanned and corrected automatic drawing. This tracing was then pasted on the source image which had already been sized correctly. Sizing of the source image was done by using the on screen rulers and estimation. Once the correct section of the source image was selected it could put cut and pasted into the working collage where it was fit in like a puzzle piece.


This image shows the collage partially complete and right before the oil rig section get placed.


I repeated the process described above until all sections of the automatic drawing including the background were filled in. To finish the collage I used a solid circular #20 brush tool to outline all of the source images. This was done to make the images pop and to give an overall clean appearance.

It was a challenge to select just a few images from more than 200 images that I have saved over the ‘Summer of Art 100.’ I chose a photo that I took from the Art Walls at Venice Beach for the background because I thought this the most important day that encompassed the whole semester. At the top chose some photographs from some of the artists that I liked the most from the semester. My favorite that I keep coming back to is the very confused, naked, 1960’s anti-war protestor. The serious look on his face really strikes me. Clearly he has a message for everybody that he can not quite get out.

Next I included a photo from the Sistine Chapel. This is one of the most beautiful works of art ever created and it is a reminder of all of the history that we covered. In the middle it got a little abstract because there were some small sections. I included a photo of a flower, the Japanese Garden, an oil rig in Long Beach, and a photograph of a photograph of goats at MOLAA. To finish it off I used my Spirit of Detroit mosaic and a photograph taken of Detroit by my friend who goes by the tag of WARD.

This summer has been challenging, very introspective, and it truly meant a lot to me.


Mahsa Soroudi

Artist of the Week

This artist draws inspiration from Iran where she is from. Everybody must find their creativity from a place they call ‘home.’ Home is a central part to our identity. Seeing an Iranian artist in the United States is something that is rare given the state of Iranian/American political relations. One would have to take care not to make their art political unless they were so inclined to become a political dissident.

Mahsa’s photography is fun to look at it. I do not know the proper word for this style. I can identify it because it looks like the type of chic photography that would be on a fashion or gourmet food blog. The photos show the object up close. The object is framing itself. The subject of the photos also appears to be very clean, almost fake. The photos are nearly square which is odd in the age of extreme wide angle aspect ratios. There are also no angles used, the photographs are taken straight on. Maybe a phrase has not been coined for this type of photography but there is clearly an “internet” style here.

Wall Hanging

For this week’s activity we made a decorative wall hanging out of yarn and a wooden dowel. We of course, being my lovely wife and her mother who is visiting us. After a trip to our local Japanese dollar store’s yarn isle we were ready to begin.


We started by discussing different concepts. We decided on a model which we drew on a white board. One thing was immediately clear, the cloth pouch did not fit the vision.

Next we took turns braiding and shaping the yarn into a crosshatched pattern.


We found a really cool type of yarn that had little balls of cotton attached to it. This yarn was woven between several vertical threads of straight yarn. This is where we made a slight error by underestimating how firmly this would hold. We probably should have woven the yarn much more tightly here. In the end we had to hot glue the yarn together.


The primary inspiration for this was summer time and nature. The main support is a dowel of wood supported by a rugged looking twine. Light and dark blues are colors that we commonly associate with a popular summer destination, the beach. Dark blue ocean waves with light blue sky.



Vanessa Blaylock

Vanessa Blaylock has transcended the video game world by bringing her in game avatars to social media. She has attempted to create a genuine identity surrounding her video game persona.

What is surprising about her avatars is how “normal” they usually look. They are confident, attractive, and rather serious. Many people use avatars to act out a fantasy or to be somebody that they are not. It begs the question, is this the “real” Vanessa Blaylock or not?

‘Rust’ is a popular MMO (massively multiplayer online) video game where up to 300 players can inhabit one world simultaneously. Your avatar starts off naked with some basic tools. All of the clothes, weapons, and tools you use must be found on the ground or stolen from other players. The object of the game is survival. The appearance of your avatar in the game says a lot about your status and ability in the game. It is difficult to collect a set of matching clothes and more powerful weapons. It is impressive when you see another player with nicer clothes and weapons. If I am playing with a group of friends we will frequently dress alike so that we stand out and intimidate our competitors.

I do not take my avatars outside of the game. However, I can see why one might open a twitter account for their Second Life avatar. The game is an attempt to recreate real life so it is only natural that the people you meet in the game would take part in the usual social media outlets. The internet has completely changed the humans interact with each other. People like Vanessa Blaylock are a reminder of how far some are willing to go to ‘be’ their online persona.



Mole Care Package

For this weeks project I sent an art care package to an old friend of mine who lives in Detroit, Michigan. He and his wife love cooking and experimenting with new ingredients so we sent them some of the best Mexico has to offer. My wife lived most of her life in Mexico, so whenever somebody comes to visit us they bring us a lot of spices and unique handmade ingredients that can only be found in street markets of Puebla, Mexico.

Puebla is located in Central Mexico about 90 miles south east of Mexico City. The city is situated at the foot of Popocat├ępetl, a massive smoking active volcano. The signature dish of the city is Mole Poblano however many types of Mole are produced. Common ingredients in mole are sesame seeds, chili peppers, chocolate, and pumpkin seeds. These ingredients are ground by hand on a stone called a metate.



The resulting paste is mixed with chicken or vegetable stock and used in soups or as a sauce in combination with cactus, vegetables, meat, chicken, eggs or fish.

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  • Items 1, 5, and 6 are three different types of Mole paste. These blends of spices are characterized by their color. The black mole is the only one that contains chocolate. Additional chocolate can be added if the flavor is to strong. The other two types consist of various types of seeds and chili peppers.
  • 2, 3, and 4 are types of candy. 2 is a bar of egg yolk and milk candy. 4 is a ball of tamarind which was purchased directly from the farm. 3 is a bar of Mexican chocolate that is used to sweeten the black mole.
  • 7 is amaranth seed. This can be used to make candy or snacks. It is very nutritious and high in protein. It makes an excellent addition to a cup of yogurt.
  • 8 is a candied fig.
  • 9 is a chunk of candied chilacayote. This is a type of Mexican zucchini.
  • 10 are dried chipotle peppers.
  • 12 is ground annatto seed also known as achiote in Spanish. This is commonly used in industrial food production to give a yellow, red or orange color naturally. However, when used in high quantities it gives meat or vegetables a nice red color and smokey flavor.

Mexican cuisine is one of the few truly unique ancient culinary art forms that survives intact today. I am very eager to see what types of colorful creations my friends can come up with by using this care package.

Joseph DeLappe

Artist of the week.

Joseph DeLappe is an artist who is taking his war commentary to the people. His statements about the Iraq war and American culture are frequently directed at the individual.

Following in the example of Gandhi, Delappe’s protest work is non-violent and sometimes features acts of civil disobedience. One of DeLappes popular protest works is the stamping of US currency with logos that suggest we are being followed by drones, that we are ‘sinking,’ or as a continuation of the “Hands up don’t shoot” movement.

Stamping political messages on currency may not be technically illegal according to at least one constitutional lawyer ( This lawyer was commissioned by the website ‘The Stampede: Stamp Money out of Politics,’ which is head by activist and ice cream magnate Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s fame. Stamping currency could amount to civil disobedience because it is a legal gray area. Also, stamping currency is quite symbolic. The imagery used on currency around the world frequently features national heroes, iconic landmarks, or depictions of historic events. Currency represents the power and identity of a nation. Stamping political messages on currency is an attempt to start a grassroots movement where ‘the people’ get involved to make political change.

Another set of work by DeLappe focuses on digital media. In other attempts to raise grassroots support the artist uses online multiplayer video games to get his message out. Wither it is pretending to be Gandhi on Second Life or typing the names of dead soldiers on America’s Army, the artist clearly has a target audience. DeLappe is careful to choose non-traditional yet highly symbolic ways to display his political messages.

Kat Von D

Artist of the week

I am most impressed by Kat Von D’s portraits. A typical tattoo consists of a thick outline which is filled with sold color or shading. This type of tattooing can not easily be used to do a portrait. A persons face is not typically drawn with a hard outline. The expertise of Kat Von D shows in the fine use of shading to create depth.

An excellent example of fine shading work is on Marilyn Monroe’s jaw line. It is perfectly faded to transition from light to dark then back to light. The color of the persons skin is allowed to show through and the ink is only used to represent shadow. Again in the portrait of the young man and the one of the baby, smooth shading and contouring is used to give an illusion of depth. All of her portraits are very representational which is what most people want from a tattooed portrait. It would be very brave of one to get a Picasso inspired portrait of grandma or their baby tattooed.