Compositing and Photoshop with Shaun Ryken

We love seeing PixelSquid used in so many different ways, especially by our long-time users! Shaun Ryken is a Photoshop Pro and has been using PixelSquid for years. We were able to speak with him about his newest accomplishments, including his featured filter for Adobe’s new Photoshop Camera app.

PixelSquid: Tell us about your camera filters you created for the Photoshop Camera app for iOS. What are some things to consider when creating digital compositions for a filter versus a standard digital art piece?
Shaun Ryken: The camera filters I have designed for Photoshop Camera were actually designed in a similar technique that I already use in my composites. The only part I needed to consider was having sort of a default focal point. Since I had no idea what the actual subject would be, I had to keep most of my elements in the back, or out of the way up front. Another technique I have used to test my filters was with my green screen. I have actually made a few tutorials on my live channel about setting this up and it’s the same technique I use to make the filters.

What has the reaction to the filters been from the PS Camera users? Do you plan on creating more in the future?
Well, from what I can see, people seem to enjoy them. Over time, I would love to make more and experiment a little with the limits the app has. I like to create art for my own sake normally. Although I know thousands of people may use these filters, the experience of creating them was rewarding on its own. To be involved in such a thing for Adobe was a great experience to go through.

Stan Lee - Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Shaun Ryken

Stan Lee – Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Shaun Ryken
When I watched the Avengers movie and saw all the big heroes get swept away it was a tearing up moment. I felt true sadness and on the day Stan Lee passed I felt that him being the biggest hero needed this as well. Stan Lee will always be my biggest inspiration and hero.

Was PixelSquid easy to use in the creation of your Supersize filters?
Pixelsquid has always been a side-kick in my editing game. Having to go and license all these different images from multiple stock sites and then still having to cut them out was a pain. I’m really able to explore my true creative mindset with PixelSquid because the library is massive and the elements are pretty flexible. I can even go through twice as many rough pieces which help inspire future designs. Pixelsquid has been a game changer since day one!

Crying Flower by Shaun Ryken

Crying Flower by Shaun Ryken
This piece started off a series for me. I wanted to connect the human body in a sensitive way to nature. I used the human eyeball which is one of our most sensitive areas to symbolize a human like feel. This is by far one of my creepiest ideas I have made!

We loved your two-part photo compositing series with Jesús Ramirez featured on the Adobe Creative Cloud YouTube channel. How often do you do these live demonstrations and when can we expect to see more?
Doing Adobe Lives and meeting artists such as Jesús Ramirez or Paul Trani is so much fun! The team that hosts these lives are extremely friendly and always understanding. I try to make it my goal to at least do one live a year with Adobe, and this year I will be doing 4. My latest livestream with Adobe involving PixelSquid aired September 23 and 24 earlier this year.

Straw-beary by Shaun Ryken

Straw-beary by Shaun Ryken
If you follow my work closely then you will notice that puns are actually a huge interest of mine. I love to make punny content and I would say that the straw-beary is one of my best!

Do you have any advice for 2D artists who are looking to make the jump into 3D elements?
My advice for artists switching from 2D to 3D would be to try out some of the free 3D objects already available for demo use and see if they enjoy it. Personally, I enjoy a fast workflow and I always spent a lot of time doing smaller tasks when I really just wanted to play with the lighting and blending of objects. Switching to 3D made it easy for me to go right to the fun part! I’m able to express myself a little more as well. I can hide little elements in the background that reflect my memories or I can build “punny” pieces with different objects. I would totally recommend trying it out, we all have different preferences when it comes to editing.

Ole Wanderer by Shaun Ryken

Ole Wanderer by Shaun Ryken
This image actually has a lot of meaning to me. This is when Adobe first discovered my talent in editing and helped me really get to where I am today. I have tried to make a few alternate versions of this piece before but they never cast the same feeling as the original.

Your Discord server The Art Club is hailed as a safe space for artists and boasts an impressive 7,000 members. Can you explain a bit about what makes The Art Club special?
The Art Club is a great place to meet new artists and to have creative conversations. The server reflects a very friendly and happy vibe and the community is always willing to help eachother out. In college, I always had this room I went to where creative individuals would all meet up and just work on random projects. After college these things sort of go away and I wanted to bring that back but an online version of it. Using Discord as an open platform it was possible to manage a club atmosphere while having it all organized and sorted into categories. Other social media just doesn’t have the same feel for community as Discord does and I have met some amazing artists in this club. Art Club is something any artist would love to come and experience!

The Art Club Logo

As a mental health advocate, do you have any working tips for artists who may suffer from stressors that may impact their work?
Mental health is a hard one to handle while being in this creative path. 2020 hasn’t been the best for all of us and it’s best to keep your mind relaxed and at ease. I know the feeling of “my work isn’t good enough” or “I’m not getting better at art” and these feelings are simply from over thinking. Use your art as a thought recycle program. Express these thoughts that are overwhelming your path onto a blank canvas and it relieves a lot of stress. Creative block will happen and it only stays longer the more you overthink it. Start off small, if you can’t accomplish it today then try it again tomorrow. Sometimes having one person to send your work to just to say “check this out” is a good way to keep inspired. Don’t focus on a huge crowd, there are a lot of similarities in this world. Overall I would say just keep at it and don’t overthink. Art is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Keep recycling those over thinking thoughts!

Penguin by Shaun Ryken

Penguin by Shaun Ryken
Although this isn’t the first penguin piece I made this is the one I really admire the most. The penguin series has always had a huge meaning for me because that’s when I met the Pixelsquid team! I was having a hard time finding elements online for the penguin series and I stumbled across Pixelsquid as my last resort. Pixelsquid from that point on has really helped me up my game and allows me to create twice as much. This is a series that I always work on and normally make a new piece to yearly. I find this image really funny because penguins can’t really see the color blue so they think the other penguin is flying!

Do you have any future goals in mind that you aim to achieve with your work?
I have had a lot of goals with my work. Some that I have met and some that I have yet to still meet. I really wanted to make a book but I really lack the ability to word myself nicely. Sometimes things take a little longer to do but as long as you keep focused, you will make it there. For now, I just enjoy creating my art and seeing others take interest in it. I love to inspire others around me to continue on their artistic paths. It’s a huge industry now so it’s hard for new designers to stay motivated. All it takes in a little bit of passion and a positive mind set!

Any final thoughts?
The goal is to have fun with your work. If you’re a designer that’s been struggling to find an idea or can’t quite get out of that creative block, take a break! Don’t force your next creative idea and simply just create art because it’s enjoyable. If you can’t think of an idea, think smaller. Masterpieces don’t just come to mind in a few seconds, they take a bit of developing first! Explore, experiment and enjoy!

Shaun Ryken is a PixelSquid Partner, mental health advocate, and design influencer who says he is, “built to inspire, empower and encourage world change through design.” His passion for design has influenced his severe anxiety disorder toward a positive path, and he encourages other designers to focus on their passion, stay dedicated and keep grinding. You can find Shaun Ryken’s work on Google or his website

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