Layers of Texture with Threshold Masks

(c) 2011 Liz RuestI’m still layering textures and color in my collages, wondering where to take it next. I’ve worked out a method, using light thresholds as masking layers, that lets me add more colors. Here’s a breakdown of a recent piece I worked on.

I started with a shot of Waverly Station in Edinburgh, from my recent trip. I liked the angles, the bridge above, and the lighting, but I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. So I opened the image up for editing to see what I could discover. My first test is to convert to stark black & white, via the Threshold filter.


(c) 2011 Liz Ruest Here’s the same image, with black & white evenly divided: a setting of 128 for the threshold. Given this, I decided the image was strong, and would look interesting with different textures.

I next duplicated the base image a couple more times, and tried different threshold levels to find the shadows and highlights.

(c) 2011 Liz Ruest

I use the threshold versions of the piece as layer masks to hide or show increasingly lighter colored textures.Here, I’ve layered a woody dark brown over a flowery purple to make a base layer for the deepest shadows. Then, using a low-threshold mask, I hid that layer to reveal a fiery orange-yellow. On top of that, I’ve used the mid-range threshold as a mask to hide the orange and show a lighter gold.

Here’s the final piece, with the top layer of a grassy wheat color used for the highlights, and one of the threshold levels overlaid for definition.

(c) 2011 Liz Ruest

I like being able to use 3-5 colors from my texture palette in these pieces, as opposed to the 2-3 levels I’ve used previously. The choice of colors is important, so I continue to build my collection of textured layers of related colors to use in these pieces.

Where else can I go with these? I’m thinking of inserting ephemera (scanned, of course!) into the layers as I use them. I love the idea that each piece can be unique, if I adjust levels and layers each time. There’s also some promise in an alternate method using gradient maps to simplify the image. But that might be a different direction completely… Any other ideas for me?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Colleen Perry (artEAST member) says:

    Thank you so much for your step-by-step description of your process. Your work is beautiful, so pleasing to the eye.

  2. Liz Ruest says:

    Thank you, Colleen!

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