Isolating the character
I used Photoshop on all of Gavan’s photos to remove the background and exported them as .PNGs with transparent backgrounds.
To differentiate between Reign Man’s existence in the external world and his presence inside his mind, I processed all the latter images of Gavan in Moku Hanga, software that gives a woodblock look. The purpose of de-saturating Reign Man’s colour and downgrading his facial outlines when he is in his internal world is based on the possibility that, to successfully enter the world of the brain/mind, a human being must lose some of his self-consciousness (in Freudian terms a partial loss of the sense of possession of an ego). The partial loss of facial definition is a visual metaphor for the partial loss of the concept of self. However, when we are nearer to Reign Man inside his mind/brain, both literally and metaphorically, in close-up there is greater definition than when we see him in wide shot in his internal world.
Opening street scene I replaced the original sky for a more dramatic one I had photographed, and used Curves and HDR in Photoshop to darken and delineate the street scene and to create his shadow on the footpath. I considered blurring the distant background to give a slight bokeh effect but, as a fan of the films of Sergio Leone, I kept the deep focus*. This ensures the character does not stand out from his surroundings, instead the environment looms over him and adds a slightly threatening edge to the scene.
To create an imaginary environment of neural webbing for his transition between the outside world and his mind, I took a photo of the sun shining through a bush in my front garden (left image) and I then processed the image through Photoshop and Moku Hanga software to get the woodblock-print look (right image).
Inside the brain/mind
To create the sensation of revolving energy, I used the sky part of this photo I took (above), and continually rotated it as the background behind the semi-transparent blue layer.
I accessed this image of a neuron* and removed the background and the bright green flashes in Photoshop. I then created a second image of the same object to place on top as a second layer of neurons and exported the layers as PNGs on transparent backgrounds.
(*BU Photonics Center. (n.d.). Neuron iStock Photo. http://www.bu.edu/photonics/?attachment_id=1433)
To create a visual metaphor for the sound of tinnitus, the original grasshopper/cricket drawings were accessed*, the backgrounds removed and the bodies coloured a blue to match the Moku Hanga blue in Photoshop.
(*Right image: DrawingTutorials. (n.d.). Cricket. http://www.drawingtutorials101.com/how-to-draw-a-cricket
Left image: ClipArtHut. (n.d.). Grasshopper. http://www.cliparthut.com/grasshopper-drawing-10-coloring-pagegif-clipart-z7SoMg.html)
I created the smiley-face emoji in Photoshop and warped it to give it the shape of a raindrop to match its main purpose.
The choice to woodblock-process the talking mouths, the insects, and Reign Man (when inside his mind) was taken so that there was a consistency with these figures in that environment which made them part of that environment. I did not process the colour of the emojis as their yellow colour is a major signifier of their identity.
I changed the final background from the everyday image of a room to a more abstract image to indicate that the outside world is, for the present time, not strongly impinging on him and to indicate, through a visual metaphor, his present state of mind.
I created the background for the final scene in Photoshop using a ‘tree’ brush of blood-red on a black background to give the impression of a series of very healthy and free-flowing blood vessels in his brain indicating a mind at rest.
The created image, with its strong play of contrasting light and shadow, produces the effect of chiaroscuro and means the film starts and ends with two visually strong images that communicate his opening and closing states of mind.
Looking back at the above workflow, it is clear I was continually looking for strongly dramatic visual contexts in which to place my character.
The change of the narrative journey, placing Reign Man inside his brain/mind to face his challenges rather than on the suburban street, was a positive step. I was able to play a lot more with a fantasy film set of vivid imagery and imaginative metaphors to create the battlefield in which the character deals with his disturbances.