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Somewhat More Realistic Cartoon Characters

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Trying to improve upon classic comic and cartoon characters is like messing with Mother Nature. Still, there's nothing wrong with re-imagining a character from a different point of view. Tools like Photoshop make it easier than ever to give texture and shadow to plain line drawings, so converting our favorite cartoon characters into a more realistic style is too tempting to pass up. This is sometimes called "un-tooning."

Artist Tim O'Brien drew his more worldly version of Charlie Brown and named it Chuck Brown. This was created for a show called "Monsters".

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Movie makeup effects artist Rick Baker designed Popeye as a real, as in really scary, person. Kinda makes you wonder what he'd do with Olive Oyl!

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Pixeloo has done a lot of untooning. Possibly his most popular image is of a real life Jessica Rabbit.

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His Mario is pretty well-known also. Pixeloo has also untooned Stewie, Homer Simpson, and a gallery of other animated icons.
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Polish surrealist Jaroslaw Kukowski created the painting The New Millenium in 2008. Another site called it "the Teletubbies on their home planet". The Teletubbies are costumed characters instead of cartoons, but a painting still makes them look more real!
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Tycho is a character in the webcomic Penny Arcade. This Worth1000 Photoshop entry by JinxRLM made him more realistic. See other untooned characters in the Reality Toons Photoshop contest.
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Toronto artist Adnan Saleem of Destination Creation pictured what The Simpsons would look like in a three-dimensional style. There's not a whole lot you can do to make Marge's blue hair look at all real! Saleem later redid Homer Simpson in a manner that was a little more faithful to the cartoon.
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Photoshop artist Mata Leone untooned Stan Smith of the show American Dad, among many other cartoons, comic book characters, and even paintings.

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In season nine of South Park, the main characters are wanted by the police. A witness made a sketch of them, and this is what it looked like. It is a bit jarring to see a drawing that looks more true-to-life than the actual characters, especially right there on the show!
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Other artists have taken the abstract South Park characters and redrawn them more realistically. The above set of family portraits is by Deviant Art member NorthernBanshee.
550_southparkKuroi_TsukiAnd another version of the same boys from Deviant Art member Kuroi-Tsuki.

This is just a small sampling of the many cartoon and comic characters getting the realism treatment. More are popping up every day!

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Courtesy of Nikon
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science
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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Art
‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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