Cabin Fever


Cabin Fever is an imaginary scene constructed in layers. The paragraphs below describe this in more detail. But first, a painting idea surfaced that started the ball rolling: In the depths of winter, a boy daydreams about springtime and baseball.

Four graphics brought the idea to life: (1) a winter landscape, (2) a window, (3) a boy, (4) a ball and glove. An added fifth graphic, baseball bats, strengthened the sports theme while framing the picture.

These five elements are all separate images imported to their own layer in the software used for this project. There are advantages to using layers. One is they give each graphic a viewing priority, that is, those on layers nearest the viewer appear in front of those on layers farther away. It's the same in the real world; the neighbor's house appears in front of the distant mountains. Using layers helped make composing this scene easier since they are individually editable.

Layer 1 is farthest from the viewer's eye. It is the bottom layer and functions as the background for the scene. A cropped photo of a snowy landscape served this purpose by setting the winter mood. Having this graphic a bit out of focus suggested wind and whirling snow.

Layer 2 consists of the window sash. It overlays the landscape layer since the sash is one level closer to the viewer. The sash is a simple grid pattern drawn, colored, and given a slight bevel around the edges. It simulates wooden dividers between window panes. Beveling produces shadows which gives shape to the wood. To increase the illusion of winter, snow is capping each ledge of the sash.

The defining element in this painting is the boy. He was posed, photographed, and a tracing made of the photo. It served as a guide when applying colors and shading to the tracing.

Layer 3 contains the finished graphic of the boy. It is another step closer to the viewer thus blocking the elements on the previous two layers. In actuality, this was the first layer drawn and completed. The size of this graphic determined the final dimensions of the painting. Elements drawn on the remaining layers fit those dimensions.

Layer 4 holds the ball and glove. They suggest the focus of the boy's thoughts. The perspective of these two items was important since they were not in the original photo of the boy but inserted later. Adding shadows completed the illusion that the ball and glove rested on a table near the boy's elbow. Because this layer is a step nearer the viewer, it blocks part of the young man's sweater.

Layer 5 contains four bats that frame the picture. One bat is the original; the others are copies.The vertical bats needed enlarging a tad because the height of the painting is greater than the width. A black rectangle placed behind these four objects separated them from the layers below. Because layer 5 is above all other layers, the black rectangle needed an open center so objects on the four layers underneath are visible.

When all layers formed a satisfactory composition, a final bitmap was made. Painting the bitmap in Essentials finished the project.