Ed Driscoll

Mama, Don't Take My Photoshop Away

I started out on Photoshop in the early naughts, fumbling my through the program and using it for basic photo editing. A minor breakthrough came in 2005, when I submitted some Photoshopped images of Hugh Hewitt’s Blog book in various strange places. This was for a Fark-like Photoshop contest that Hugh’s producer Generalissimo Duane held, and I ended up placing Hugh’s book on Lawrence of Arabia’s desk, being bandied about by the pioneering multimedia journalists of the New York Inquirer, and being promoted by Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock:

A few years later, when I began to produce my Silicon Graffiti videos, an unanticipated side benefit is that I found myself using Photoshop more and more to produce artwork to go into the videos, including on the monitors in the virtual set behind me. If you watch the shot that begins here of a mushroom cloud followed by photos of various dictators, everything behind me, including the virtual set, is a single Photoshop .PSD file, with various layers animated in Adobe’s Premiere Pro to appear in sequence, timed to an ancient British Cinesound explosion sound effect.)

However, producing artwork for PJM, including many of the 85X85 pixel thumbnails on the PJM homepage greatly accelerated my learning curve. Around Christmas of 2009, while visiting the now sadly closed Borders bookstore in Santana Row, I came across Art and Design in Photoshop: How to simulate just about anything from great works of art to urban graffiti. While a fair amount of political correctness and left-wing sucker punches (including a demonic Reagan Photoshop parody) mars the book, there’s a lot to be gleaned from it. As its subtitle implies, the book walks the reader through how to recreate everything from old movie posters to food and toy packaging to Mondrian, Roy Lichtenstein, and other pop art images.

I also found a slightly older title, Photoshop Classic Effects: The Essential Effects Every User Needs to Know, which I purchased later, to be an excellent learning guide. (The one thing I miss about the local Borders closing is being able to browse through books such as these to see which ones viscerally grab me. If it’s love at first sight, I’m much more likely to spend hours in the book, rather than a how-to guide I feel like I’m pulling teeth to learn from.)

And so from those books, and a lot of trial and error, here are some of the better images I’ve produced over the last few years.

This image of President Obama in his plus-fours, inspired by a quip by Mark Steyn, grew out of a shot of Donald Sutherland in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, and was bordered by a Polaroid Photoshop brush plug-in, which James Lileks referred me to:


This Salvador Dali parody was produced following the instructions in the aforementioned Art and Design in Photoshop. I just replaced the melting clocks with similarly dissipated Obama logos:

Last fall, when Obama became obsessed with his sippin’ Slurpees metaphor, this was a natural, which I used for a time as my Twitter avatar. It’s just the hat artwork that Stacy Tabb produced for my blog’s masthead back in 2004 on top of an existing 7-11 Slurpee ad, on top of a default Photoshop gradient layer. The shadows and reflection at the bottom were cribbed from the instructions in  Photoshop Classic Effects:

Having been one of those legendary 45,000 people who bought the Velvet Underground’s first album shortly before forming his own rock group, this parody for a Zombie blog post’s thumbnail, when former VU drummer Mo Tucker supported the Tea Party last year, was a natural:

I had lots of fun parodying MSNBC’s silly “Lean Forward” ads in the fall of 2010. This one, created when Olbermann was still earning a paycheck from General Electric proved to be strangely prophetic…


When it was obvious that their party was going to lose Congress last year, and a majority of Americans disapproved of the Ground Zero Mosque, the MSM really teed off on their customers. This was my response to a bitter and punitive Time magazine cover late in the summer of 2010:

In 2009 or so, I purchased some Photoshop templates from Digital Juice for use in both videos, and as stand-alone artwork. I spent a pleasant half an hour or so putting this one together one Saturday last year:

This one I think I did around Christmas of 2009. It took quite a while to copy and paste, and line-up the text to produce this Spinal Tap-inspired image, which appeared in a Silicon Graffiti video on media bias, and an item here and during a stint guest-hosting on Hot Air.com about studying the Washington Post (then Newsweek’s owners) Kremlinologist-style.

This image was for a thumbnail for a post last year by Richard Fernandez called “Gone with the Wind.” For most of these images, I start big, and then use Photoshop’s “Save To Web” feature to reduce the images down to an 80 or 85 pixels square jpeg. I always save the layers in their original size as a Photoshop file, since you never know when you’ll need a larger image, or want to modify the image into something else. For obvious reasons, I’m hoping to reuse this image right around this time next year:

This was for a Victor Davis Hanson post last year on Obama’s poll numbers going into freefall. I wonder how many people have looked at this, and assumed it was simply a skydiver promoting Obama in 2008? I took an existing photo of a skydiver, tilted his angle to make him appear more out of control, and then placed the Obama logo on top of his ‘chute. I cut the various colors of the Obama logo into different layers, and then set the blending options on each layer to different settings, and different degrees of transparency, to make it appear as if the whole thing was blended into the fabric of the parachute. A fair amount of work, but the end result was pretty effective, I thought:

Finally, another image for a VDH post, this one from last month on “The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance,” and really well received. (The lads on Trifecta even mentioned it on PJTV.) It’s a photo of Obama heading for Marine One, with the sky clipped out, and a glorious sunrise pasted in underneath. I tried to visually convey the message of VDH’s post: When BHO is no longer POTUS, it will be Morning in America once again: