CHOPPER PROFILE 8
This chopper joined PSC on the 05th April 2005, and did not waste any time in creating some very impressive stats. 23 wins, over 10,000 votes, 275 images posted. His style and skills are well honed and his creative ability firing on all cylinders. Active in the forums and seen in chat, he has found a home at PSC. Start your count down and get ready to meet….
1. What is your nickname and how did you get it.
Nicknames…nicknames hmmm, well ‘M’ is one of the boring ones, no prizes for guessing how I got that one. More interestingly, my real name is actually Mark, but for a good few years most people call me Marco, why… honestly I really don’t know, the ballistic part was given to me because I do most things quickly while maintaining accuracy, like a ballistic missile I guess. But for the sake of this questionnaire let’s say the entire name is some sort of Italian stallion reference.
2. What is your real name and age?
Mark Perkins and I’m one quarter of a century old. That’s right 25.
3. Where are you from and what’s so great about being there.?
Born in Liverpool UK in 1980, moved from there in ’83 to Cambridge, then onto Leicester in ’92 where I did most of my main schooling. In 1998 I moved back up north to Manchester to study Design and Visual Arts, Advertising and Marketing at University. Came out of that with a 1st class degree with Honours.
4. What do you do to keep the bills paid?
Currently just living off savings and doing odd freelance work for fun while I finalise my business venture. Originally the business was going to go live in September 2005, but this was put back due to several unresolved issues, being the need to move house. I wanted to set up my own graphics and advertising business for quite some time, so I am looking forward to it eventually getting off the ground.
5. How did you find PSC, and what do like the most on this site?
This is an interesting question, I found the site totally and utterly by accident, like many I would think. I was searching for PhotoShop tutorials for a friend of mine in early April 2005, and the tutorial section of PSC came up as the 3rd link I think. I joined straight away, but did not do anything for a few weeks, then it was only the odd chop here and there, really late and quickly done (ha ha you can’t tell lol). It wasn’t until late June 2005 that I decided to take the plunge and go for advantage. I guess you could say I have never looked back from that point, it’s an awesome site.
There are several things I find enduring about PSC. The competition level and structure is great in my opinion, the people are diverse and interesting, funny and mysterious. You couldn’t ask for a better mix of people really. But I guess the thing I like the most on the site, is the range of emotions you can feel from other people responses to your work, and their responses to yours, whether good or bad or indifferent. It all counts, and it all helps. The ease at which you can help people with skills or general questions is also a fantastic element to the site, nothing feels better than helping a person interested in the same things as you are.
6. You have at times been involved is some of the more heated forum/comment type discussions here. Has it effected your involvement on the site.
Yes and No… because I was never going to leave, as near enough all of the time, I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. And it doesn’t matter where you go in life, there are always times where people want to knock you down. But the flipside of that is I wasn’t going to let whatever people said effect how I reacted to both them and their work. Unless it was a person with an empty portfolio that either is out just to cause trouble, or someone with an alias to do likewise.
We have all at some time said we are going to leave, so your no stranger there, and the alias thing well its part of cyber life.
I have never understood the whole alias thing. If you want to say something, say it, or have the willpower to bottle it up and not cause a war of words. Because at the end of the day, it’s a fun site. People come to PSC generally to blow off some steam, kick back and meet with friends. It should not have to be personal, but I understand how sometimes confrontations are unavoidable.
When I first joined here, I arrived with a totally different persona to how most people know me now… how I come across now, is how I am. When I arrived I was all pimpin’ this and Mo Fo’in’ that. Quite funny looking back. The reason for it is a bit stupid too. Just before I joined I used to play a lot of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 Online, and I was always having a laugh talking all Hip-Hop. Don’t ask why lol, it worked there, a lot of people just fooled around. And so I joined PSC, and guess what, silly me, not all people on this planet get people from just written text. It wasn’t a great way to introduce myself, especially when it was so far away from the real me as you could probably get.
Also to tie in with the initial disaster that was my introduction, I made an infinitely self-destructive error one night in May I think (we all know what I’m talking about) which in turn probably caused a lot of the later backlash I had. But hey, we all make mistakes, I paid my dues, I like to think that I have been far more helpful to many than annoying and insulting to people on here.
I believe you have turned around that one instance for the better.
7. Other than chopping what do you do in your spare time?
Quite a lot actually. I like to play football (soccer) and golf as much as I can.
When I can I enjoy going to Anfield to watch the football team closest to my heart, which is Liverpool F.C. For years we have sucked pretty hard considering our previous successes, but now we are 5 times champions of Europe, I can die happy. And also probably live off the anecdotes for a good 5 years that came with the achievement
Mostly I use my PC (320Gb HD, 2Gig RAM, 3Ghz Dual Processor HT blah blah blah) this runs 64bit windows XP Home and Professional. I vary between versions 7 and CS2 of PhotoShop usually for speed reasons. When I know I can do it in version 7, why use CS2 is my theory. I also use Illustrator and InDesign CS when the need grabs me. I have a G5 Apple as well, but for some reason it keeps kicking me in the nuts on stability issues, must get that sorted now I think of it. I prefer a PC overall, controversial I know lol. Another PC user, very few of us around from what I read
1. What gets your creative juices flowing, how you create that masterpiece?
Tricky one, I have always been considered creative with an insane imagination, it doesn’t usually take that long to come up with something for a daily chop. But a large mug of coffee also helps
. Nothing I have done is a masterpiece though, a true masterpiece is something to be talked about and cause influence to many over a vast period of time. This I think I will never accomplish… ah well.
2. What do you use as inspiration?
I open the image I am about to chop, and just think of a few angles I could take it, then I pick my favourite, and set off on the exciting and action packed road of the chop.
But also I tend to think of the most obvious and ignore that then maybe ignore then next 2 or 3 ideas unless ones a real cracker. You never want to be one of 20 entries that all look alike. I only enter an image that I know will be there by other people if I am pretty confident I have done all I can to make it the best.
What about on the inspiration side, where do you draw your ideas from?
Inspiration wise, I don't really know. Sometimes it can be something you see as your driving along in the car, or on the TV, just gives you another idea to make an exciting chop. At the end of the day, it’s all about making it either, informative, pleasing to the eye, funny or shocking.
3. Do you have a system?
As far a system goes, well I wouldn’t say I had stringent rules I follow every time I chop. I do if time allows it work on an image until I am totally happy with it. Sometimes though time runs out, and it’s a case of doing the best that can be done. One thing I do tend to do is make the source image 300dpi and then drag it to a new canvas 3000 pixels by 2750, also at 300dpi. I tend to like all my images to be the same size for viewing in my portfolio, not sure why, just something I do.
4. Does a chop have to be done a certain way following steps or are you a messy chopper and just go with the flow.
If I was doing a professional piece of work, all my layers would be organised and named, but for PSC, it all goes a little pear shaped (up poop creek). Layers everywhere not named, very messy indeed, oops
Don’t think to many of us here label all our layers, I know I don’t other than 1,2 and…so on.
It depends from chop to chop; sometimes I start work on 2 or 3 source images at once, and work on a few ideas with each piece. Then usually one takes hold, and I work on that until completion, then do the same with the other images I was working on. Other times when I am away from the computer, I may sketch some idea down, to keep my mind working. If I have a lot of time to give to a chop, I will try to do new things that I have not done before, to challenge myself, and to learn new ways of doing things.
What advice would you give others in starting or creating a chop, and how do you create your images?
Now this is a generalising question if ever I saw one lol. It depends from chop to chop; sometimes I start work on 2 or 3 source images at once, and work on a few ideas with each piece. Then usually one takes hold, and I work on that until completion, then do the same with the other images I was working on. Other times when I am away from the computer, I may sketch some idea down, to keep my mind working. If I have a lot of time to give to a chop, I will try to do new things that I have not done before, to challenge myself, and to learn new ways of doing things.
I am sure it is the same for many on PSC, that in a normal situation you would never be called upon to produce say… a beetle out of an image of a hedge etc, PSC makes this the norm, challenging all of us to stretch our imagination and our skills. And that is the big draw of PSC.
I always try and entertain the viewer, or make them think, ‘how has he done that’. And in turn, hopefully ask me how; as I am always glad to help give tips on ways of doing things that people may not know in PhotoShop etc.
Things I always tend to do:
Cutting and Pasting: Always make sure you take your time, use the Pen tool, and learn to use it properly, try to avoid the polygon lasso if the object you are cutting out has a lot of curved sides, and in my opinion, avoid the magnetic lasso like the plague.
Shading/Highlights: Always try to make sure you match shading and highlights in relation to the light source; otherwise the image could look a little odd. Maybe try an create a recognisable style, that only you do, realistic shading, strained illustrative shading, stylised shading, whatever you want, find your style, and never forget the feather amount box, otherwise you are in trouble.
Shadows: One of the hardest things to finish a good image off is to get the shadow right. I have had many a problem with shadows now and then. Get it wrong, and boy you can tell. Make sure all your layers are available so you can interlace shadows between layers at any time. Study real life shadows, at different times of the day, learning from reality is the only way to go. And remember do not just do a big black blob, unless it’s a cartoon you are producing.
Ok think that’s enough procedure tips, I have a feeling this is going to be a little on the long side. Damn you Blue, you and your probing, interesting questions (shakes fist). lol.
Good answer, very informative and I so agree with the shadow’s, a bad shadow can take a lot from a good image.
5. Filters, brushes and techniques.
I avoid filters, like the plague. I have always thought they are a cheap way of getting an ok result, but in some cases a really bad result. I much prefer to work out ways of doing things myself, same with brushes actually. As an example, I have been accused in the past of using so called blood brushes. This is not true, as again it works against my principal of actually working to get a good result. To do blood, I use several methods, my favourite being to hand draw the required style of blood on paper, then scan it in to Photoshop. Then I can work on it, and make it as real looking as possible. I do the same for rust effects etc. The only time I visit the filter menu is for blur and noise really.
6. What style of chop do you like most?
I like many things about many different chops. But I respect a quality all source images, and humour is always a winner. But I think everyone will agree the one people are always looking for is out of the water, fresh and utterly creative originality.
7. The blood thing mate, what is the attraction?
a personalised question, now that’s cool. Seriously though, it isn’t really an attraction. It is an aspect of life, people die, and people get killed. I have produced a lot of fun, emotional, graphical images for PSC and I enjoy doing whatever I feel strongly to do at that point. But people pick up on the blood thing because I produced a few in a small space of time (one reason for this being the story I created in images). I am not a morbid kind of guy. I’m very content and happy actually. Neither is it a backlash at some experiences I have had or witnessed in my life, not consciously anyway. The bottom line is, it’s a picture, they are not meant to offend, and if that happens then I would apologise for that. I must say, with all the uproar lately about images being pulled, I have always been amazed that non-of mine have been. But with saying that, I know the limits, and I never show anything too graphical, more of a suggestion of what may have happened. I leave a lot up to the viewer most times. It is more fun that way. So in conclusion, my attraction to blood I guess, is similar to my attraction to any aspect of life. It mainly all depends on what I am thinking the final image should be. So sorry to all that these images offend, but as someone famous somewhere once said, ‘You can’t please all of the people, all of the time’.
Always use high-res images for external sources, and if you have the time, do not settle for the first image you see that may fit, chances are, it may look like a dog’s rear end. Always pay attention to colour matching, and by this I also mean saturation, contrast, brightness and intensity levels etc, there is nothing uglier than an environment full of randomly contrasting pieces. If you have an idea, but you suddenly find yourself thinking, ‘I have no clue how to do that’, try some trial and error, you will not learn unless you experiment and try. You will probably amaze yourself if you put a bit of time in.
As an example, why use the flood filter, when it is possible to do it yourself. Now some of you may be thinking, do it because it saves time. Well that’s true, but you are robbing yourself blind of some fantastic skills.
The flood filter is basically a flipped image, with varying levels of smudge, blur, and shaded and highlighted areas. You can achieve a very similar result manually, sure it takes time, but you really feel as you deserve the result. A basic way of breaking it down is to start with an image, select the areas that will be reflected in the flood or water effect you want. Duplicate it several times (dependent on amount of movement you want in the final result), I would say 6 – 8 is a good starting point. Then begin to work on each layer individually. Vary the liquefy and smudge patterns from layer to layer, then do likewise with the blur effect. Make sure you keep one layer unedited. Then start to select areas with the polygon lasso, don’t set feather anything higher than 20, but probably lower than 100. With these areas, switch between highlight and shaded parts, some thicker, some thinner. To give the water reflective feel.
To get this working for you, trial and error is the name of the game. At first you may come out with something that looks all wrong, but stick with it, and you will learn more and more about the rights and wrong of making water.
I agree, I have learnt more by trying to achieve an effect, than going the easy route. It may take you a lot longer but in the end you gain the experience, and that is worth the time spent.
Here is a example of mine:
Another clever thing you can do without using any external sources at all is change one material into another. In this case metal into glass.
If you find yourself in the unlikely situation of needing to change metal to glass, then it is possible, again with a lot of work, but also again, well worth it. Take the piece of metal you have and if it is shiny you can take a short cut of using the Select menu, then colour select and taking away the shiny element. I prefer to use low feathered pen tool or lasso to do the job, but its all-personal preference. If the metal is dull then I am afraid there is no shortcut to be taken. You will need to select areas, and copy, then cut, then paste them so they are on there own layer. Now you will have complete control over them to make them transparent etc. You will also have an outline available to you, to make the necessary distortion fields over the visible background through the glass. It is a hard process to describe only in words, but finally it a matter of creating highlights and shadows to make the glass look more realistic.
Here is an idea of what I mean:
OK then, there are a couple of the requests I have had, but never got round to explaining. Sorry if they aren’t too clear, but this is a profile I guess not a tutorial zone. Hope they help some people.
You should write them out as a tutorial, would be a good addition to our growing list of well written tutes.
What is your favorite type of source picture and why?
a. machine (Car, boat, electronic parts)
d. obscure views
e. all of the above
I really like a flat view of something complex, this gives me a chance to do a 2d to 3d conversion, they are a lot of work, but you can really get some fantastic on the eye results. Out of the list above I would put them in this order:
1. What makes a good chop for you?
Depth, style, originality, quality, experimentation, workload, theme, controversial content. It does not have to be perfect with me by any means, as many different qualities, and stages of progression are members on PSC. And I work from a person to person basis, improvement, and evidence of experimentation is important point for me. I love work that is, different in styles from day to day, it shows depth of character and willingness to learn and crave more knowledge to increase skills.
2. When you chop is it, Fast and solid, or slow and steady
Usually slow and steady, this again depends on time scale available, but predominantly slow and steady wins the race, as they say
3. Do you prefer to vote on?
a. all source image
b. import and blend
c. effect i.e. rain/snow/flood/fire/blood
d. as long as it’s a good chop it gets my vote
e. all of the above
f. I don’t vote
Tricky question, but I do like all source images, and manipulations to create other objects using the source. Also good effects done by hand are great to see. I would put them in this order:
4. What chop did you do and it did not do as well as you expected?
It took quite a while, and I know time isn’t going to win you a competition, but I thought that this would have placed; I think some people were not sure what it was lol, which never helps. But there was some great entries and thinking in the comp, very strong. Arc’s, Rey’s and Maik’s were especially creative. But it was a fun chop to do, so that really is the most important thing. If you aren’t enjoying your work, get out the office.
5. If you had the chance for a do over what image would you like to change and why?
Ha ha, talk about questions with no answers. I would say nearly all my entries fall into this category, I am happy with them as much as I can be in the time scale I allow myself to work on them, but you can always improve an image, sometimes just small details, sometimes massive mistakes need correction.
I make a point of not editing an entry once the competition is open, unless there is a massive obvious error. To choose just one entry is a real hard job, but here goes nothing. I would say this entry I would like to change:
I wasn’t happy with it, and I had worked on it for way way too long. Little things were wrong with it, and the shading was overdone, it was going well initially, I got Steven looking fly, and the decks in with Goat by the fire exit but as I alter the light sources stupidly, everything else had to change too. Which steadily made the entire image go tonto in my opinion. I mean you have several light sources doing different things, and while you could argue that in a club you do have an environment like that. It just doesn’t sit right though. Realistically, you wouldn’t have been able to see hardly anyone, and there the problem lies.
6. Your from the UK does that influence your style or do you try to keep the ideas global?
There are times I think, ooh that would be a great idea, and then I think; crap; only Brits will most likely get the reference. I like to keep it global, because it is a global site, but predominantly a North American site. So I am consciously converting phrases and images to fit with this audience. Why! Some of you are probably saying. Well, I guess I am being accommodating to the majority. Something that usually I wouldn’t like to see, but in this case, it is only minor. So it works for all most of the time.
There was a piece I did on the Giants Causeway that is in Ireland. I honestly thought that it was a global wonderment. It seemed however by the PM’s I received, that many just thought I was making a vast pile of tins.
Here is the link for that image:
People still liked the entry, so it was nothing that bothered me, but from this point on, I have tried to keep my themes as global friendly as I can.
1. What's your best chop.
Oh I have a few favourites, but my overall favourite I think is my 3d conversion of the motherboard.
It is by no means my best chop, and there are some bad mistakes within it, but from original source to final entered version it bought many smiles to my face. So I guess that’s my favourite chop, not my best hmmm. My best I would say (hard decision) my snow scene extended from source with external integrated elements to complete much larger scene:
This was a great deal of work, as soon as I saw the source I thought that needs extending. It took a lot of time to source and manipulate the right external sources to complete the scene, and I was very happy with the result.
While in the process of me finishing these questions, to Blue editing them, I produced an advert for Adidas. I have a lot of experience in advertising, but never really bought it to PSC. My thinking for that was, 'Don't ant to bring office work to a fun place'. And also I wasn't sure how it would go down with the PSC crew. But I decided to post in the Marshall's Shoe Comp, and it won (to my surprise) maybe I will do a few more advert styled entries, if the source is right. As it is one of the main aspects of design I enjoy doing the most. Anyways, here is the link to that:
As soon as I saw the source I knew what I was going to do, it was all a matter of time to get it produced. I noticed that because advertising has been the main aspect of when I worked, that I paid much more time to details, and also named all my layers.....weird, it was like I was on autopilot. Thanks for all the comments on that and all my work by the way people. Makes me feel warm.
2. Now your worst chop.
This isn’t so hard… well actually it is ha ha, when I joined I fired off several really quick entries to get to 10, strangely not to vote, but to be eligible for the head to head contest back in April 2005 when I joined PSC. Sadly I missed it by inches, and this held me back from completing the move from normal member to advantage member until early July 2005. This meant I was entering comps as quickly as possible, usually about 20 minutes max after opening, so I do have a real poop pile to choose from, the winner is:
oh what was I thinking, pixilated image, no shadow at all, bad colour management, all together now ‘Boy that sucks harder than a $10 ‘ho’.
3. Who do you consider to be one of the better choppers out there.
Whoa there, very hard choice this, there are a lot of fantastic choppers out there, a lot before my time so I believe. But I can only go on what I have witnessed, so I would say after much consideration, that BillTVShow is one of the finest value for money choppers on the site. He constantly pops up once or twice a week if we are lucky, and you know as soon as you see the thumbnail you may as well have stayed in bed as far as the comp goes. Always first class skills, always something new, always great detail to see. Nearly every entry he does is faultless, which is pure class shining through. (ok Steven, my usual fee will be fine ;o) ) Other choppers that are simply geniuses at what they do in my opinion are:
Alex: Beautifully crafted images that can make your jaw hit the floor.
Anfa: Fantastic ability to create out of nothing on a very consistent basis.
Goat1981: Fine detail and superb PS skills usually result is first class work.
Deshone: Comes out of no where to blow us all out the water, fantastic skill.
Supak0ma: Ability to make a scene look real and like you could just walk into it.
Serps: Great mind, superb creativity, and results that speak for themselves.
Claf: One of the most consistent choppers, unbelievable attention to detail.
ReyRey: Some of the work Rey does needs to be seen to be believed, stunning.
Araico: Great creative mind, and great understanding of what PS is about.
Buglover: Earth shaking ability to blow the competition away, truly exceptional.
Serious: Great skills that few use, and ability to consistently challenge the best.
Vunt: Individual, original, and with the right source, unstoppable.
Gort: Classy style, and super fine detail, true craftsman at work.
Ledirlo: An awesome craftsman displays pure genius, nearly every time.
Sorry if you do not appear in this list, but if I did everyone I though had fantastic skills, then you would all be asleep.... but hey, you could be already for all I know.
Damn did not make his list either…oh well, back to the profile
I probably could go on, but I think I can hear snoring.
4. What you hate to see in a chop and why you hate it so much.
There is not too much I hate to see in a chop, hate is a strong word, but I definitely would raise an eyebrow and wonder what the hell was going on if I saw highly illegal stuff in a chop. From a standpoint of laziness, I dislike chops that pretend to have more work done to them that they actually have. Plagiarising someone else’s work and passing it off as your own by only changing a couple of things is a big no no.
5. The best chop of all time.
Sweet Mary, Jesus and the other guy, now that’s a question…I would say its between these 3:
It is a near impossible to choose any one entry, from hundreds of amazing chops. The ones mentioned above are my three favourites. Varying reasons of final look, style and work was put in, to the three. But as I said, it is an impossible task, for me anyway to pick just 1. In my opinion picking 3 is still a bit harsh. But to save all you from reading this for the rest of your lives, that’s the way I’ve gone here. Also there are thousands of entries I have not seen, from mystical members that were gods of their time here at PSC, respect to them too.
We both know this site has a special something that keeps us coming back, what is the main drawing point for you, and if you could make one change what would it be?
Ha haaaaa…. What is the X factor? Hmmm-good question Blue.
I think for me, it is the love of the work and the great people that are members of the site.
There is nothing better than having a good idea and seeing it develop into exactly what you envisaged. But also I wanted my work to be varied and of a good quality consistently. I like to try different styles and ways of doing things, help me to grow and invent new ways of producing ideas.
Another aspect I enjoyed originally was the target I set myself. Hitting 1,000 votes, moving up the statistics section, then 2,000, 5,000 and finally 10,000 etc . So I set myself targets to try and achieve before this point. Some people may say that this is not what the site is about. But I found it fun, and indeed challenging to keep a high enough standard almost daily to manage these goals.
Also I love to help people who have an idea, but do not know how to achieve it. There is no greater feeling than helping someone that is passionate about the same things you are.
And what would I change about the site, there has been a vast amount of discussion about this over the months I have been a member, in fact not a day goes by without a new idea or a new opinion on where the site should go for here.
In my opinion the site is awesome, the structure and set up is superb. The only thing I have been passionate about changing, or adding should I say. Is the 2nd and 3rd place finishes to the profile section of each member. This got a lot of responses when I put the proposal forward in the forums. Some for, some against.
The main argument against it was that it would make the site too contest based. Which in my opinion, won’t happen. We already have 2nd and 3rd place finishes, so it should be natural that they should be recorded some how. Rather than having to trawl through your portfolio and other peoples to count them.
The site is called photoshopcontest.com….not photoshopcomehereandlearnbutpleasedontbecompetative.com
We have stats, some people like them, keep track of them. Some people never look at them. All I suggest is to keep track of the main stats, the ones that already have reference on the site currently. As 2nd and 3rd place do. Maybe since it is my idea I am being blinded somehow to how this change will corrupt and destroy the site, but I seriously doubt it will change anything, apart from the ability to see how yourself and others are doing in a few seconds, rather than a few hours.
Here is the link to the thread on this matter, unfortunately it is locked, but hey, newbies can get the general idea, as can people who missed it:
Apart from that, all is quality and as good as it could be on PSC.
Cheers for letting me borrow your soapbox Blue lol.
Um that’s the “Binford2000 soapbox” ya using there mate, supplied by Sage industries. Well I must admit this has been one of the more informative profiles to date, thank you Marco for being so honest and open with your answer. I’m sure that our fellow PSCer’s have learned some thing new about you and your methods of chopping. Once again thank you for the time it has taken to set this one up, but it has been well worth the effort. Here is hoping the new addition to the Perkins family goes well and uncomplicated, and that the new ‘BabyBallistic’ does not keep you from chopping to long. Well fellow PSCer’s that ends the 8th chopper profile, who will be next…it could be you…or you…or YOU. Till next time…
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CHOP.