What would it be like to live in a stone house so perfectly set atop a hill against the sky that the moon would make it look like a house set within a giant snow globe in winter? That’s what I wondered when I saw a stone house in downtown Guelph, Ont.
It too was set on a hill, but the house was far from aglow. Boarded up and bolted with steel struts to keep the walls from further crumbling, the house was but a shell of its former grandeur. So I decided to rebuild the house in Photoshop, not to what it had been (as that was impossible for me to tell) but to how I’d restore it in real life had I the resources.
The photo restoration took a month. Beginning with a clean photograph of the house against a blue sky (below amongst the parts collage), I keyed out the blue before painstakingly eliminating the steel struts through a combination of the healing brush and patch tool. I also erased the plywood from the windows and doors by hand, since the magic wand was near-useless for the task. To replace the front door, I used a shot of a church door, overlaid with textures and accentuated through filtering. And it went on from there—a month of restoration using so many techniques, trials, errors, revisions and tweaking that to distill it all into a sentence—for the house alone—would likely take the skills of Harry Potter.
All elements in Snow Globe House are original, from the snow-covered rock walls (taken at Rosewood Farm) to the pine trees (taken both in downtown Rockwood and Acton, Ont.). The only exception: The image of the moon—a public-use archive image from the NASA website. I did try to take my own close-up image of the moon but, no matter how many stepladders I stacked on top of each other, I still couldn’t get that close. In retrospect, I guess a telescopic lens (if I owned one) would have been a better way to go.
It’s all a journey of learning. Enjoy.—Xris
Note: To date, Snow Globe House is the largest, most complicated artwork I’ve done. The experience was rewarding on so many levels, and I look forward to creating larger, even more complicated fantasy landscapes in the future.
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