Tag Archives: TAFE

Vixen or Victim – TAFE Film Noir Project

We love our TAFE course. We always learn new stuff and have fun – so what’s not to like about that? Our latest project is to create an image in the film noir genre. Rather than re-pick teams out teacher decided just to use the same teams as for the Cocteau Madness project.

We had the idea of Pegg waiting for a bus (1950’s style) & then playing with shadows let the viewer decide what was about to happen, or had just happened.

Some of the variations included:

  • shooting front-on with a menacing shadow behind her
  • swapping her shadow for another (subtle but spooky)
  • revealing a shadowy figure

Pegg really went to town with this project organising nearly all the associated props and costumes. She was definitely the star of the shoot. Caleb was our “mystery man”, whilst Helen was talent wrangler, props, wardrobe and continuity supervisor.

I hope you like the results, we certainly had fun making them.

Vixen or Victim 1

Vixen or Victim 1

Vixen or Victim 2

Vixen or Victim 2

Vixen or Victim 3

Vixen or Victim 3

Vixen or Victim 4

Vixen or Victim 4

Ms Pegg strikes a pose

Ms Pegg strikes a pose

Mark & Caleb - "blue steel"

Mark & Caleb – “blue steel”

Team Snake

Team Snake

#tafe #filmnoir

TAFE Cocteau Madness Assessment Task


Using the Phillipe Halsmann photograph of Jean Cocteau as a starting point I want your team to design, plan & co-ordinate a shoot and create ONE image for assessment. There are two aims here: to work effectively in a team as well as create an image that is “surreal” in nature. Also, the objective is to capture as much as possible in-camera with little or no post-editing.



Apple is taking over the world. It is so pervasive in its many devices. Apple is stopping us thinking. Everything is within instant reach. Calab is a perfect example of the “connected youth” of day. He regularly multi-tasks, often he is using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all whilst having a conversation.

Calab has been integrated into the iBM iThinkPad. He is part human, part cyborg. He plays with his iPuppy, whilst connected to an array of iPhones, iPads & iPods. He holds an iCream (complete with Apple logo).


Technical Details

It will be shot in an ultra-modern yet grungy style. A backdrop will suggest he is part of the iBerspace Data Cloud. To enhance the theme images of computer circuitry will be projected onto the backdrop. A smoke machine will further embellish the scene. Whilst the interaction of the projected images, studio lights and smoke is an unknown the in-camera effect is expected to be fabulous! An added bonus is that apart from all team members wearing black, the fog should help conceal our bodies and we will morph into Caleb’s central torso.



Whilst the brief only requires one final image, it is envisaged that several variations will be explored. From these a final presentation image will be chosen. We may find that there are too many competing elements that distract, rather than support telling the story. Also, experimentation with arranging the chosen props may be required to achieve a preferred composition.

Alternate expressions may include:

  • Endless stare, where his thoughts are completely engaged with the cloud
  • Laughter at his amusement of a joke a friend has just shared
  • Horror, as the power has just gone off & he is disconnected


Jean Cocteau Original

Jean Cocteau Original Photograph

Concept Sketch

Concept Sketch

Lighting Schematic

Lighting Schematic

Final Image

Final Image

Team Snake - Helen, Caleb, Mark & Peg

Team Snake – Helen, Caleb, Mark & Peg


Just for fun I also did a quick video (18sec) timelapse of setting up the studio


I hope you enjoy!

Afanador Sketches

Ruven Afanador is a wonderful and creative photographer. His specialty is mostly fashion and celebrity portraits. I can highly recommend looking at his work. The images of Amanda Seyfried are just awesome (those eyes!) However he has another body of work that is probably best described as outrageous.

Refer to the Ruven Afanador website and his books.

Please note this is a purely a drawing exercise for our TAFE class. Our lecturer wants us to get used to a flowing free brush, and not clean stiff analytical tracing. This is actually very challenging! (especially for someone who does not like to colour outside the lines…)

An additional challenge is to use very few different brush types.

The whole objective was to get us to try to draw freely. Instead of getting stuck with the “blank canvas” some of Ruven Avanador confronting portraits from several of his books were used as the basis for our character sketches. We were to use underlying photos to draw several sketches of only one character or element.

These are my first attempts. I really did struggle with this exercise! After quite a few goes I started to get a feel of getting a shading effect by building up brushstrokes. I found that swapping between a black then a white brush and varying the opacity I could get the desired effect.

After the characters we repeated the exercise for trees, clouds and backgrounds from a limited number of supplied photographs.

Once we had a library of elements, the next task was to assemble them using a classic arrangement:

  • foreground (our sketched character)
  • mid-ground (trees)
  • background (European village scene)

Rather than a “conventional” landscape we were to incorporate our sketch elements ensuring that the foreground comprised one of our characters. Further, this element was to dominate the composition.

Don’t worry if you think my sketches are “weird” – they are meant to be! Have a look at Ruven Afanador (under books -> “Mil Besos”) they MAY make more sense then… 🙂


Sketch 1

Sketch One

Sketch 2

Sketch Two

Sketch 3

Sketch Three

Sketch 4

Sketch Four

Sketch 5

Sketch Five


Composite 1

Scene One

Composite 2

Scene Two

Composite 3a

Scene Three

Composite 3b

Scene Four

Mad Hatters

Two of our recent class tasks required us to use Photoshop to create montages.

The brief consisted of creating  two crazy hats (one for him, another for her):

Exercise 1: Her Most Fabulous Hat

Using the renaissance profile image provided, create an image in Photoshop with the following dimensions :

30cm wide x 80 cm height @ 300 res

NOTE: the woman’s head must be at the bottom of the image and her hat must be the tallest thing ever seen.

This is an exercise in IMAGINATION composing a vertical image, by creating a collage by cutting and pasting in Photoshop.

The main thing is that you use found images to construct her most fabulous hat…that is a big vertical hat.

This is GRAPHIC : think Poster as opposed to a painting – “The Madder The Better!”

Exercise 2: His Most Fabulous Hat

Same as previous exercise, using the statue of David as the starting point. However this time construct a hat made of ancient SCULPTURE parts.You will need to think how your collage will work matching the marble look of David.

Note the angle of the head is from the bottom looking up: you may consider having his hat getting smaller at the top to complete the perspective illusion.


My first interpretation came about researching the Renaissance. I kept discovering references to Archimedes, cranes, pulleys and similar devices. You will notice from the detail images that all the parts connect and there is a flow between them.

Some have commented that maybe this piece could represent how a woman thinks, but I will let you draw your own conclusions…


“Vitruvious Woman”

“Vitruvious Woman – Detail 1”

“Vitruvious Woman – Detail 2”

“Vitruvious Woman – Detail 3”


For a bit of fun, I then created Marg’s Family Tree. You can see I even included Santa’s Little Helper!

“Marg’s Family Tree”

“Marg’s Family Tree” – Detail 1

“Marg’s Family Tree” – Detail 2

“Marg’s Family Tree” – Detail 3


His hat at first was much harder to settle on a suitable design concept.  I had quite a few false starts with stacking various statue components together. These initial attempts were frustrating as I  just could not seem to arrange the pieces satisfactorily. After a while I realised that repeating elements seemed to work best for me.

I have called this first piece “Under Control”. In the details you will notice that a duplicated Nike figure (with extended wings) has long puppet-like controls to David’s golden lion epaulettes. Also, the column is actually composed of repeated and inverted Colosseums.

“Under Control”

“Under Control” – detail 1

“Under Control” – detail 2

“Under Control” – detail 3

Inspired by the repeating pattern concept, I then used horse head figures to create “Better A Horses Head Than Arse”. I love how the repeating pattern of horse heads looks like a spine.

Notice in the detail the top of the hat is a distorted image of The Duomo in Florence (which is just up the street from the Museum where David is on display).


“Better A Horses Head Than Arse”

“Better A Horses Head Than Arse” – Detail 1

“Better A Horses Head Than Arse” – Detail 2

“Better A Horses Head Than Arse” – Detail 3

By the third piece I was just getting silly, but having a huge amount of fun. I think it is funny that at first everyone thinks they are lovely butterflies arranged on a stem, until they have a closer look….


*********************** NOTE **********************

Do not scroll down if you are offended by male genitalia…







“Dick-Head” – Detail 1

“Dick-Head” – Detail 2

“Dick-Head” – Detail 3

Wine Label Design Project

I am in the middle of my first major assignment for my TAFE visual arts design course. Our brief is that Enigma Distilleries, which currently brews beer wishes to enter the wine market. They anticipate producing five types of up-market organic wines and require a series of groovy labels created. We are to produce five Constructivist styled labels and five Saul Bass styled labels. Part of the brief is to show our research and ideas as we work through the design process.

The five types of wine are:

  • Botrytis
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Sparkling Wine

I started researching labels by wandering through the local bottle-shops. I know nothing about wines, but I do like a nice label!  I also searched extensively on-line. Please note that  in Google images there is a really cool feature of “similar”, so if you find an image you really like, you can filter your search based on images that maybe visually similar to that selected image. Mr Google does not always get it right, but it is a really handy feature.

I also started thinking about possible characteristics of each type of wine in terms of colours and personalities.

My thoughts for “Personalities” for Styles are:

  • Riesling – light, fresh, zingy (fairy, sprite, Elf?)
  • Botrytis – sweet, dessert, temptation, (Eve – danger/desire?)
  • Chardonnay – elegant, refined, (queen, regal lady)
  • Sparkling White – bubbles, celebration, (fairy, sprite)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – full-bodied, powerful, strong, dominant (Ring leader, bull fighter, Centaur)

My thoughts for “Colours” for Styles are:

  • Riesling – green, lime, melon
  • Botrytis – honey, alluring red,
  • Chardonnay – white, silver, pale yellow
  • Sparkling White – gold, bright yellow, white
  • Cabernet Sauvignon –  deep red, maybe dark purple

The first series attempted I was inspired by the classic Constructivist design approach of simple exploding shapes:


Simple – Botrytis

Simple -Cabernet Sauvignon

Simple – Chardonnay

Simple – Riesling

Simple -Sparkling

This is what the collection looks like together:


Simple Constructivist Style Series

The next series are based on the Russian Propaganda Posters which used a cyrillic font with two letters BO, CS, CH, RL and SW as the background. This font made the background consist of graphic shapes than recognisable letters.

I liked the way that the background interacts with the text. The effect is easy to achieve. Simply create a duplicate of the text. Colour one version white and the other black. Make sure the black text is on a layer above the white one. Then using magic wand select anywhere on the red background. The select the black text layer, then while the selection is current, choose “add mask” to the black text layer. Since the mask matches the background shapes, they will be hidden – revealing the white text.

The subtle addition of a wine glass typical of the style of wine I feel adds a nice element.

This is what the second collection looks like together:


The third series I thought I would try to use sorts of personalities that I thought might be associated with each wine type. I then used clip art as the basis for characters.

Saul Bass - Botrytis

Saul Bass - Cabernet Sauvignon

Saul Bass - Chardonnay

Saul Bass - Sparkling


This is how the third series looks like as a collection:


Currently all designs are just ideas and definitely are a work-in-progress. However I am having fun and it is sure different using Photoshop with hard edges, shapes and text than applying local adjustments with a big soft brush.