Sunday, January 13, 2008


I'm fascinated by the culture of the American West. It is such a part of the American psyche, and conjures up images of rugged independence and strength. It's no coincidence that Marlboro's ad campaign of cowboys doing their thing was so successful. Naturally, I'm drawn to the idea of cowgirls. On a slightly different scale, of course.

An early version of this image on the left was my first try at a cowgirl collage. The source image contained both her and the cowboys, and I just blew her up, tried to set her hand up in a realistic fashion and left it at that. I didn't end up liking the image much however, as the model was wearing a frumpy skirt and looked like she should be carrying out apple pie and lemonade to the boys when, at her size, she would be far more suited to wranglin' cattle and breakin' in broncos. So, recently, I went back, looked at it again, and decided to get rid of the frumpy skirt. I may have sexed-up the image a bit too much though with those ridiculous shorts, but the image now has a completely different feel. Here, she's more like the rancher's daughter, back for the summer from college, posing for a photo with the ranch hands. A few of the ranch hands have crushes on her, of course, and she's probably having a summer fling with one of them. That lucky dog.

This image was also the one which gave me the inkling "Wouldn't it be cool if I made not just collages of mini-giantesses and mini-men, but if I tried to create a world where all men were around half the size of women?" I've been trying to do that since, with varying degrees of success. Although a lot of my early work did not really feature this theme, I've been going back and rejiggering them to fit in more with that idea in mind.

This image on the right was the third cowgirl image I made (the second one I ended up throwing out because it was, well, boring). Again, both figures were in the source image – I looked for these images as sources early on because they were easier to work with – and I just shrunk the boy down. And again, the problem was with her clothing. She was wearing a dress! And heels! Fashion photography just can't get cowgirls right. So, to fix it, I got rid of that dress by superimposing another more appropriate body on her. Her new pose is also a lot more aggressive than before, so that she's the one more likely to have initiated the flirting and he's leaning against the post somewhat flattered by her attention.

I also added a truck, because the background was just too blank, and well, because a cowgirl like her probably has a really nice truck.


  1. Is the second cowgirl image the Aurelie Cordel one? If so, score! I have the second cowgirl image, everyone! Currently available in the shrunken-man black market for a scandalous amount of republic credits. :) Seriously, if that's the one, I saved it so I don't think it's boring.

    I'm fascinated by the culture of the original Americans, and for some reason they've always called out to me more deeply than cowboys. For that reason I'm drawn to the idea of very tall Native Americans ladies. Unfortunately it's been dang near impossible to find suitable collaging material. That being said, I've also accumulated stuff for little cowboys and colossal cowgirls, so I dig this perspective as well.

    Whatever you did to the first image's skirt is seamless, because if you hadn't mentioned there was a skirt there instead of shorts, I would have never guessed you had made that change. She's probably having a summer fling with all of them, though. Even the little mustached one that likes boys. (I don't know why I just made that up.)

    About the second image, impressive. Most impressive if you got rid of her dress and replaced it with a different body! Wow! I like doing stuff like that when I can, but I also know it's tweaky, excruciating work sometimes. Damn... you suffer for your work.

    Excellent collages!

  2. Gay mustachioed ranch hands! Oh my word.

    Yes the collage you describe would be the one I'm talking about. Weeeell.... I guess I'll let you keep it.

    I'm interested in Native American culture too, but as you said it's maddeningly hard to find good source material. The problem actually isn't just that. I'm trying to collect material to present other cultures as they exist in my world, but that is just really hard to find. Most anything you can get is American or European. At least now you see South and Central American in the mix. Also, I tried looking for Asian sources but either the photography is just kind of weird and not suitable (soft-focus and dream-like) and the female models are posed in more submissive poses than in the West which is just not all that suitable. There's practically nothing available from Africa (I mean Africa, not African-American, which while available, is I think underrepresented in the kind of media I look for source material in).

    Then there's the problem of decent material having stupid decisions like cowgirls in heels and satin dresses.

    So if you're interested in the nitty gritty, in the first image, the legs were frankensteined (your word not mine!) from a separate image, and the shorts from yet another one. Then there was a lot of mucking about with the back fence. I searched on Google Images for fencing and then used a particularly suitable result into the background.

    For the second one, I was lucky in that I did have a frankensteinable body in another image that I'd found. Shadows and light were easy since it's in shade. The tedious part was getting the background rail, since it was mostly obscured by her previous attire.

    One blanket thing I've done with all my old collages is to make the women appear taller. I learned this technique when flipping through a book on how to draw comic book characters (HA!). You just make their heads smaller relative to their bodies. It's a great trick and I think it works pretty well.

  3. On an aside, while I like the look of the first image, I don't know whether it makes sense at all in my world. Why would there be male ranch hands at all? Can't drive cattle, can't operate machinery, hell, it even takes at least two of them to move a small square bale of hay around! These questions keep me up at night.

    Okay not really. But maybe you loyal readers can help me come up with justifications.