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Psychedlic Renaissance - Paisley, Hearts and a Virtual Mushroom

Updated on November 8, 2011
Mushroom - so there!
Mushroom - so there! | Source

A Head

Sometimes when I'm working on a graphic design, it's very surprising how far from the original concept the final product falls. This is one of those times! The original idea was simple: to place a representative symbol for a mushroom onto a street sign, the kind of sign that is used to warn of bicycles on the road. I had just taken photos of both the sign and a mushroom, and they are both easy to recognize in their original photographs. Little did I suspect how quickly the mushroom would lose its form when it was separated from the background! I could have taken a clue from Mario, and made a mushroom that was more iconic; rather than realistic. If I hadn't told you it was a mushroom in the photo to the right, I think you probably would have guessed that it was so.

Trippy, isn't it!
Trippy, isn't it! | Source
Simple idea!
Simple idea! | Source

Further Challenges

The fact that it doesn't end up looking like a mushroom (at least not to me) in the final graphic design isn't too worrisome. I think it looks a little like a mushroom-cloud; and rather like that that plays against the otherwise upbeat image of the poster. Once I got it in place on the sign (and I'm open to suggestions about what else to put on the sign - it seems like a natural for a series to me) I felt that it looked at home there, so to speak. I had it in mind that it would be nice to have a psychedelic sky in the background, something not quite so psychedelic as the mushroom itself, but that would arrest the viewer. Looking online for a tutorial for photoshop to make a psychedelic sky proved to be rewarding in that there were lots of them out there. None of them matched what I had in mind. Perhaps one of them would have matched, had I actually had something in mind; but I only had an impression that I wanted something psychedelic. By psychedelic I mean more surreal than overly colorized, or wavy etc. Anyway, after some reflection, it seemed that the way forward was to create the background as a stylized sun (either setting or rising) that is partially superimposed with the same paisley pattern that is visible on the mushroom and the word "ahead". It took a little doing, and after a bit: satisfaction.

As a side note, I might add that it took some work to get the various elements out of the picture from the original sign photo: the telephone pole, the trees in the background and so on. It turned out to be more of a process than a set idea: at first I was ok with the trees, for instance, and tried to keep them in there; but after a while the design just looked a little to cluttered to me; so I took 'em out. It would be nice to be able to extend that kind of power into the real world; but then again, maybe not!!


That's a summary of my experience today with Design/Create Mushroom Cloud. I hope that you enjoyed reading about it. It's a fun way for me to hone my skills with photoshop, and get some of my ideas out there (you can buy this design on various items over at cafepress!). With the same sign I'm planning on making a few more graphic designs, though I may wait a few days to do that. It seems a good place to put a skull, a birthday cake, a bicycle (as in the original) or perhaps a duck. Again, if you have any "G-Rated" ideas, let me know!

Mushroom Test.

Could you tell it was a mushroom in the final graphic design - if I hadn't told you?

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