Prints that Win: Kung POW Chicken!

    For the second year in a row, Tracye Gibson, M. Photog., won a Sunset Print Award for her artistic flair and masterful use of Photoshop and Corel Painter.

    Last year’s winner, Little Miss Muffet, combined Gibson’s portrait photography with digital paint. This time around Gibson had an idea featuring fighting roosters, but didn’t have any roosters nearby to photograph.

    “For the Master Artist competition category at the Southwest PPA you don’t have to take the photo yourself; you just need to show how you put the elements together,” explains Gibson. “I usually shoot my own photography for that category, but I don’t have any roosters in my backyard here in Fort Worth. I know I’m from Texas, but… I’ve been obsessed with roosters and chickens lately because I like trying to figure out how to paint all the different feather textures.”

    Gibson bought stock rooster illustrations (the four images at the bottom of the panel) as the basis for the image she had in mind and went to work with Photoshop and Painter.

    “I composited different parts of the roosters together and positioned them in Photoshop. Then I took it into Corel Painter and painted in multiple layers. I like to add colors with pencil on the print, but I didn’t have time for that,” says Gibson. “For the background I went in and grabbed some colors from the roosters, drew some oval squiggles and overlaid them over each other. I took that into Photoshop and put a motion filter on it – zoom, I think – so that it gives it that center pow look. I did some cloning with different brushes, did a lot of dodging and burning, and always take it into Photoshop and apply other filters and layers as well.”

    Gibson framed the final print with two layers of plain white mat. Though Gibson says she normally uses Sunset inkjet paper for her competition prints, she used Hahnemuhle Torchon for this image because she thought the texture of the paper complemented the image. Gibson floated the mats a bit, added a bevel to the outer mat and colored the bevel with a burnt-orange pencil.

    “Presentation is very important, especially in the Master Artist category, because they want to see the before images, and sometimes it’s hard to get them on there without being distracting,” says Gibson. “I laid the before images on top of the top mat, backed everything up, photographed it, and sent the file in digitally just in time for the deadline.”

    Regan Dickinson
    Regan Dickinson

    Regan has been involved in the sign and wide format digital printing industries for the past two decades as an editor, writer and pundit. With a degree in journalism from the University of Houston, Regan has reported on the full evolution of the inkjet printing industry since the first digital printers began appearing on the scene.


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