I am going to attempt to explain a clearly as possible how I created the Green Eggs and Han chop. Many of the steps I took were permanent, so I an unable to create sreenshots of each step. I will try to explain it as best I can in words.
As a preface, I am entirely self taught, so some of my techniques may appear to be unnecessarily time consuming or flat out wrong. Feel free to do it the right way and leave a comment if this is the case. I’m always looking to pick up new techniques.
Step one is to find as high a res picture of the Green Eggs and Ham cover. This was accomplished using good old Google. I always try to use the highest resolution source file, so I always use the size filter in GIS to look for Large sized pictures.
Luckily, I selected an image that was a digital file rather than a picture, because it’s easier to manipulate the background. As it turned out, the image only had the grumpy guy (who actually is never given a name) and I had to have him and Sam I Am on the same cover. An alternate cover only had Sam I Am.
I finally found an image containing both Sam and the Grump. I used the wand tool set for contiguous to excavate most of the solid blocks of color out of the picture. Then I ended up using the pen tool to fully extricate the images of the two characters and the doo-hickey. I normally go full pen tool, but the wand works well when it’s animation based.
Back to the cover: At first, I started covering up parts of the image by creating layers and using the pen tool to create areas to fill. I could have used a brush to paint over it, but I like using the layers since they are quite reversible. Then it slowly dawned on me that a solid layer of the same color would do the trick since all the elements from the cover would be on their own layers and I didn’t need anything from the cover to peek through. I could have saved some time if I had realized that from the start.
Using the pen tool, I roughly cut out an area around the book title, the author byline, and the Cat in the Hat sticker. Since the background is a uniform shade of orange, I did not have to be precise with the pen tool. I created a different layer for each element so I could move them around independently.
On the title, I cut out the last hump of the “m” in “Ham” and then positioned to the left until I got a natural looking “n”. Then I painted over the background to remove what was left over from the “m”and then I merged the two layers.
Back to the characters: I am always mindful that an image can be as tall as you want, but width is always the constraint. In order to keep the characters as large as possible without having the image get wider to accommodate them, I split the two characters by selecting the Grump and cutting him into a different layer and moved the Grump closer to Sam I Am.
I have used this technique in the past when the original composition is simply to wide for my tastes, like with this chop:
And this chop:
In this case, it was quite easy since there was no background that needed to be merged and/or erased.
I used the pen tool to take off their hats and cut them into new layers. For the red hat, I copied a piece of the brim and positioned it to cover the eyes. For the other hat, I had to use the clone stamp to smooth over the edge and then used the pen tool and right clicked to stroke a line 3px thick. This stroke action was done on a different layer since it’s reversible and I can further manipulate it to match the rest of the hat. In this case, I had to use the blur tool to get rid of the harsh edges and pumped up the brightness a bit to match the darkness of the surrounding lines. Had I drawn the line directly on the hat layer, I could have applied the blur tool, but I would not be able to change the brightness without affecting the rest of the image.
I could have used the threshold mask to create B&W outlines, but it’s a messy looking product and looks more like a blotchy 10th generation photocopy than a line drawing. Both Illustrator and Inkscape (which is the Gimp equivalent of Illustrator) have a trace tool — the one in Inkscape is called Trace Bitmap. This allows you to create a B&W illustration that looks like a line drawing. I performed this for both Steven and HeeJun’s heads and them brought them into a new file. In that file, I used the wand tool in non-contiguous mode to select all the white areas and cut them out. Then I used it again to select the areas outside of the B&W trace and inverted it (Ctrl+Shift+I) to get a selection that matched the trace. I put a new blank layer on top of that and then filled it with orange (the color isn’t important, we just need to have some contrast between the stroking we’ll be doing and the underlying image we’re tracing).
Now, before the next step, you may be content with the B&W image produced by tracing. I wanted to keep the line drawn look, used the pen tool to trace around the outlines and stroked a line using pencil at a 5px line weight. After a half a dozen attempts at stroking their features, I decided to keep the eyes, nose, and mouth from the tracing since it was simply too difficult to draw something recognizable.
The stroke tool was used to create the hair. If I had more time, I would have kept the finger like shape of the hair, but it was easier to make it look like Christmas tree.
To fill in the color, I used the existing palettes on the book cover. For each color, I used a new layer underneath the line drawing. This allowed me to stack up the colors and, if I made a mistake, I could fix it a color at a time. I could also paint outside of the lines for the face color since the hair layer would mask it anyway. I used the lightest color for Steven face and then darker ones for shading.
The sticker in the corner was created in a separate file. I converted a picture of Nigel into a line drawing, then used the cutout filter on a copy of that picture then overlaid the line drawing on top of the cutout copy. Since the line drawing had solid black hair, I used the pen tool to select his hair and used Select|Contract to shrink it four px, then deleted that to let his hair show through while keeping the outline. These layers were then merged into one object. Back on the main file, I took the existing sticker from the cover, deleted all the text and artwork, and pasted the Nigel picture on top. The text was added on top of it using the text tool to warp it into a semi-circle.
I have a normal watermark I use for chops, but for this instance, I used a font called Doctor Soos Light for my name, used the text tool to created and arc to match, added vftw, then repositioned the “by Dr. Seuss” to the left.
Since this was the first time I attempted a chop like this, it was rather time consuming since I was trying to figure out how to do many of the elements. But if I did it again, it would take a fraction of the time. The Han head in the chop is actually the second draft — the first one took over two hours to create, since I was struggling to figure out each step. After doing the Steven head in half the time, I decided to re-do the Han head, which took about 20 minutes.