Today I’m continuing my project of photographing my collection of chrome robots under colored lights. This is the limited edition chrome R-1 Robot released by Rocket USA – presumably in 2000, judging by the date on his chest. The “RUR” on the robot’s chest is a reference to the play “R.U.R.” by Czech playwright Karel Capek, in which he coined the word “robota”(based on a slavic word meaning “hard labor” or “slavery”) for the artificially created humanoids in his story; this was the root for the English word “robot”.
I again layered two different photos to produce this image, but this time combined it with a little bit of creative masking. Masking is a method of completely or partially concealing parts of a layer in Photoshop. Here are the two original images:
I put the purple robot photo on top of the red-green image. I then used a mask to remove parts of the purple robot; the mask included a gradient blend, which is why you get all that cool color mixing. The mask makes the purple image completely transparent in a circle that is centered over the robot’s face; then the circle lets more and more of the image show as it expands outward. By the time you get to the bottom part of the robot, you are seeing all of the purple image, and none of the one underneath.
I also used the airbrush tool on the mask in order to reveal some details of the robot’s rivets and grills from the second picture, to heighten the illusion that the robot was being bathed in golden light from above. Here is the final result:
I did the photography for this project with an amazingly simple and cheap setup: A small softbox cube that I paid about 25 USD for on eBay; two gooseneck desk lamps from Ikea; some color-changing LED bulbs that I scored on eBay for around 13 USD each; and a Canon Powershot SX50HS, a great point-and-shoot camera that’s simple enough for a beginner, but has enough features to serve as a take-along camera for a more experienced photographer. You can get one at the time of this posting for about $350 USD, maybe even cheaper if you’re lucky. The results wouldn’t fool a real professional with their quality, but you can blow most anyone else away!
I would like to thank my new friend Steve Day for gifting me with this lovely robot, and also give a shout out to his business, The Little Robot Shop, based in the UK (but poised for world dominance!). They make fabulous greeting cards, wrapping paper, posters, etc. featuring cool vintage robots, and will be offering a few of my designs soon. Check em out! https://www.facebook.com/littlerobotshop