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Roll Over Botticelli: Venus Gets A Makeover

May 21, 2012

I had a lot of fun doing an assignment for Tracey Jones and Tremendous Leadership. It called for a parody of Botticelli’s Birth Of Venus (1486). I think everyone’s seen this famous painting at one time or another:The Birth Of Venus, a 1486 painting by Italian painter Sandro Botticelli, shows goddess Venus emerging from sea as fully grown woman

The parody called for Venus to be displaced by another goddess, an Australian Shepherd named Ruby Red. Ruby posed for a lot of pictures, but did she ever once strike the Venus Pose? Alas, she did not. So it fell to me to use bits and pieces from four different photos to build a composite Ruby in Photoshop.

I wish I could tell you I have some magic hair extraction technique. I do not. I’ve studied many hair extraction tutorials, but have never found one that works for every situation. I experimented with different selection tools, and fine-tuned the selections with the Eraser.
I used splatter brushes for the Eraser, and tried different hardness and opacity settings to see what worked.

Below are the four photos and the resulting composite. I had to adjust the color and lighting for the different parts, and I used layer masks to blend them all together. It was also necessary to graft on the end of Ruby’s right “foot” (it’s actually the tip of the left foot, which I cloned, warped into position, and then blended into the existing right foot).

photos of dog named Ruby Red, pieces of the photos used in Photoshop to build a composite photo of dog striking pose of Venus in Botticelli's famous painting Birth Of Venus, composite used for Tremendous Books book cover

Final below. Some of Ruby’s friends were also included (well, at least their heads). If you compare the final to the original, you’ll notice the sea shell had to be partially rebuilt and shifted to the right, in order to center Ruby properly. This called for some pretty doggone ambitious cloning… : )

The final was used on the cover of Saucy Aussie Living: Top 10 Tricks for Getting
a Second Leash on Life
by none other than Ruby Red herself (with a little help from Tracey Jones). If you’re looking for some ongoing inspiration, I can highly recommend Tracey’s blog.

parody illustration of Botticelli's Birth Of Venus painting, shows a dog named Ruby Red substituted for Venus, and Blue, Indigo, and Ginger dog heads substituted for other three people heads in painting, result used as Tremendous Books cover

What do you think? Is Botticelli rolling over in his grave? Is Ruby giving Venus some serious competition? Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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34 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2012 9:50 AM

    I knew you were working like a dog on this one, but I had no idea how much so!! Ruby is displaying her inner doggess, which is inside everyone of us. Thanks so much for the amazing job you did on this. We did an show this weekend in NYC and everyone flipped out. Really an eye catcher. Thanks for making this vision a reality!!


    • May 21, 2012 1:35 PM

      Ah! I was hoping you’d like it. After all, you’ve got such great taste in artists… : P

      Ruby was a hit in New York?? I’m not surprised. I just hope she doesn’t resign her post as TLB motivational evangelist for a career in modeling… : (

      Thanks again for a great assignment– it was a pleasure from, er, ruff to finish! : )


      • May 21, 2012 3:38 PM

        Love, love, loved it. Posted it everywhere I could so others could marvel at your fabulousness. Ruby is with me for the long haul, never to be separated ever again:-)


        • May 21, 2012 8:04 PM

          Thank you, thank you!– hiring you to be my agent was the smartest move I ever made… : )

          Glad you enjoyed it, Tracey, and thanks for the mighty trumpet blasts. And I’m glad to hear Miss Ruby knows a great gig when she sees one– woof! : )


    • May 19, 2016 4:03 PM

      just a heads-up: I noticed the link you have here, Mark, is no longer valid. The current URL is:


      • May 24, 2016 1:33 PM

        Hi, Jak! Once again I must make with the mea culpas and apologize for my late reply here. Thanks so much for bringing the broken link to my attention. I decided I’d better re-proof the entire post, and was glad I did. Tremendous Life Books had rebranded itself as Tremendous Leadership, with the result that 4 of the 5 links in the post were no longer valid. Thanks to your waving the red flag, I was able to fix them all.

        I wanted to approve your comment here, and display it, because it’s such good example. Thank you for taking the time to do me a good turn. Jak, I sincerely appreciate your kindness.


        • May 24, 2016 2:41 PM

          You’re most welcome, Mark– I’ve managed to make myself useful to some friends at Twitter, as I’ve gotten this knack for detail 🙂


  2. May 21, 2012 10:23 AM

    I like to think that the Botticelli image would have made Botticelli himself smile.


  3. May 21, 2012 11:49 AM

    Were we to witness such an emergence from the sea we’d pick Ruby and her radiant doggy face any day. Delightful creation, Mark, and extra kudos for making it sound so easy to do!


    • May 21, 2012 1:46 PM

      Ah, is there anything better than a kind comment prosaically expressed?? I think not– and you guys are deservedly famous for ’em! : )

      It was certainly an interesting challenge. Funny how things often look fairly simple in retrospect. One tends to forget the sweat and the tears– which is probably a good thing!

      Thanks for the delightful morale boost!! : )


  4. May 21, 2012 4:35 PM

    If I could subscribe again I would, but I already am. Woof!
    I like the way you have doggedly reinterpreted Botticelli. 😉


    • May 21, 2012 8:08 PM

      Ha! “…doggedly reinterpreted Botticelli…” May I quote you down at the Kennel Club? That’s a winner!! : )

      Thanks so much for that lovely and witty comment, Val– very sincerely appreciated, and it’s good to see you!


  5. May 21, 2012 9:34 PM

    I think the motion of the cloths and sea are quite nice. I would have voted for cats myself, though, LOL. 😉


    • May 22, 2012 8:05 AM

      The motion of the cloths and the sea? Mr. Botticelli gets credit for those– though of course I taught him everything he knows. Er, knew. : )

      OK, next time we’ll do cats– and Ives can play Venus. : )


  6. Bob Johnson permalink
    May 22, 2012 10:07 AM

    That was a dog gone good job.


    • May 22, 2012 12:29 PM

      You’re certainly barking up the right tree with that remark, my dear fellow!! : )

      Thanks, amigo, very sincerely appreciated. It’s an honor having you here at, uh, Armstrong Kennels!! : )


  7. May 22, 2012 11:00 AM

    We all know it is a dog’s world. Very funny!


    • May 22, 2012 12:30 PM

      So true, Jayne– and I’ve got the fleas and ticks to prove it… : (

      Thanks so much for your cheerful support! : )


  8. May 23, 2012 9:54 PM

    “Meow, meow, me! meeeeh!” My May Muse, Mimine, murmurs 🙂

    You are really toothsome Mark, I love your work! Excellent!


    • May 24, 2012 9:39 AM

      Wow! I don’t often get comments from cats– especially on posts involving dogs. Klearly a kind, kultured high-klass kitty with keenly kultivated good taste!!

      I’m just a poor Toothsome wannabee, trying to follow in your gigantic artistic footprints. Sigh. I know it’s hopeless, but I must keep trying… : )

      Thank you, dear Dolly, for the encouragement, and thank you, dear Mimine, for the en-purrrrrrrr-agement… : P


  9. May 24, 2012 5:51 PM

    Hey Mark,

    Here I am as uusual two posts behind you and late to the party.

    I’m a horse and dog lover. Who cares if Botticelli spins? Not me.

    I love cats too and have one sort of … lol 😀


    • May 25, 2012 7:12 AM

      Late to the party? Nonsense! You’re right on time– welcome! Yes, let ol’ Botticelli spin– good for him to get a little exercise… : P

      A “sort of” cat? Hm. Sounds intriguing, but I hesitate to inquire further… : )

      Great to see you, TT, thanks so much for your support.


      • May 25, 2012 11:51 AM

        I was awkwardly implying that I don’t really have a cat. He has me. 😉


        • May 25, 2012 2:47 PM

          Ah! That sounds like a purrrfectly normal cat– whew! I feel better now… : )


        • May 25, 2012 6:06 PM

          He’s a feral cat we rescued about 18 years ago when he was under a year old. 🙂


  10. robpixaday permalink
    May 25, 2012 6:45 PM

    Yeeeeeeoooowwww!!!!!!!!!! You’re a Photoshop Master!!!!
    that’s amazing and wonderful and GRRRRR-eat!!!!!!
    Botticelli wouldn’t know the difference.

    Even the lighting is super!

    Seriously, WOW!


    • May 26, 2012 12:57 PM

      My blushes, Watson! as Sherlock Holmes used to say when his face was beet-red… : )

      You know, when I read the words Photoshop Master, I leaped to my feet, assumed my best kung fu stance, then ran arond the house karate-chopping every pillow in sight! Now the air is filled with feathers for some reason… : (

      Well, that is the most outrageously kind comment ever recorded!! I’m bowing low here and saying, “Thank you, grasshopper…”

      Actually, the low bow was easy– I’m lying on the floor. Pillow chopping is hard work, never let anyone tell you different… : P

      Thank you so mucho, Robin!!! : )


  11. May 25, 2012 10:28 PM

    I love it! You really bring the goddess out in Ruby Red. What a clever pose 😀


    • May 26, 2012 1:01 PM

      Aw thanks, Christine.

      Actually I spent long hours posing in front of a mirror until I had the right look.

      Now for some reason, I’m drinking water out of a dish, instead of a glass. Weird. : )


  12. May 29, 2012 7:18 PM

    Ahahahahahaha….What a funny! your work! I honestly cannot stop laughing at Ruby’s pose…hhahaahhahahahahahahaaha


    • May 30, 2012 10:04 AM

      Uh-oh!! Uncontrollable laughter?? Sounds like a medical emergency!!

      I’d send a St. Bernard to rescue you, but she’d probably strike that Venus pose and make you laugh harder… : )

      Thank you so much, Inge, for your delightful and rollicking support!!


  13. May 30, 2012 12:10 AM

    Mark! You are amazing! I actually like yours better than the orignal! You really are good– a photoshop master! And you really know your way around the pooches too. The way you got them to pose just like in the original! But seriously Mark, you are a wonderful artist and fun and funny as all get out to boot! 😀


    • May 30, 2012 10:17 AM

      Aw, gosh-gee and blush-blush! I feel as self-conscious as Ruby. We’re both very modest. We also share a preference for doing tai chi on seashells… : P

      Yes, if my artistic career tanks, I can always become a dog trainer. I just know I’d be a howling success… : P

      Thanks as ever, Linda, for your kind and cheerful support!! : )


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