The Art of Takashima

Hello art friends. In today’s post, I’m going to share the steps it took to create one page of The Takashima Extraction. I feel compelled to write this post because a few months before I finished Takashima, AI art became widespread. Takashima imagery was created by me using doll and city images I shot for the project, a handful of commercial use permitted Morgue File images, Photoshop CC (PS), PhotographyBB Photoshop actions and my Wacom Pro tablet. As you’ll see below, the images were edited, run through PhotographyBB PS actions and hand painted by me to smooth doll joints, add shadows and light, and paint out distracting elements. There are NO AI-generated images in Takashima.

The dolls are resin Asian ball jointed dolls (bjd) from my own collection. Some character’s wigs, costumes, props and face painting was done by me. The rest were purchased from bjd marketplaces and online shops.

The dolls themselves are strung with elastic. I favor older bjds, which are single jointed and limited articulation but enough for realistic posing. Resin is quite slippery so posing capability was enhanced by first unstringing the dolls and applying hot glue to their joints, re-stringing-them, then inserting 20 gauge craft wire in their arms and legs.

The photo gallery below shows the sequence of editing. Each step has an average to 10 layers, so to keep each file size down, a Layer From Visible was created after each step, compiled into a new file and each layer mode and opacity adjusted to suit the story’s needs.

  • The first image (top row, far left) is Keaton and Camille as shot in front of a white sheet. The dolls were extracted using a Photoshop Action that I created.
  • The second image (top row, middle) is the Takashima deck, a composite image consisting of a Morgue file deck in the foreground with the far background masked with a Seattle composite image I created from a cell phone image I took that was itself heavily edited in Photoshop to give a dreamy, denser cityscape than the original image had. Notice the floor of the deck is rather busy and the shafts of light.
  • The third image (top row, right). I duplicated the second image, applied a Gaussian blur, reverse masked and revealed the blurred floor.
  • The fourth image (middle row, left) is the dolls layered on top of the Takashima deck. I added hair wisps for Miss. Camille because the original image cut off the very top of her Mohawk.
  • The fifth image (middle row, middle) has one additional layer to enhance the whites of the doll’s eyes, which were getting lost and giving off a really creepy vibe. I forgot to clean up Camille’s neck to smooth out the joint where her head attaches to her body. A 50% grey layer was added at the top of the stack to enhance the light and dark areas of the image, as if there was a full moon that night.
  • The fifth image was run through PhotographyBB Sketchography Photoshop Action that gives the image a more hand drawn look with sketch lines, as if it came straight of out my sketchbook. This layer was placed at the top of the stack with the opacity turned down just enough to see the sketch lines but not to be a distraction.
  • The result was run through another PhotographyBB Photoshop action Watercolor, which provides subtle blotches.
  • The sixth image (middle row, right), adds layers with a white bokeh/sparkle brush and grungy flower/text stamp in black at the top of the stack. This image harkens back to my original plan that Takashima’s imagery be grungy. Instead, grungy images were restricted to Keaton’s daydream.
  • The seventh image is the result of running through PhotographyBB From Dusk Till Dawn Photoshop Action.
  • The eight image is the result of embedding the seventh image in PhotographyBB’s Comic Book Maker, which gives an even more illustrated look.

I hope you found this article on the Art of Takashima useful. AI-generated art may have its place as a jumping off point for a hand-manipulated work. I enjoy the process of photographing, compositing, editing, painting images. The next story will probably use more of the Mixer Brush tool but I have no plans to jump on the AI art bandwagon.

Want your own copy of Takashima? Stop by my gift shop and pick up a copy.

If you like the art of Takashima, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and get story updates before everyone else.

Thanks for stopping by today. I appreciate each and everyone one of you!


  1. I’m glad you liked the descriptions of the images. I wasn’t going to write this post, but when AI art appeared a few months ago, I realized Takashima looks like it might be AI-generated art and I wanted folks to understand that a human created this work. Not that there’s anything wrong with AI-generated art. 🙂

  2. Thank you! I appreciate your description of each photo and the amount of work you put into your novel. I plan on purchasing it for my own Christmas present.

Comments are closed.