Fembots, Cyborgs and Androids

Fembots were a pop-culture staple long before Austin Powers battled them-witness the popularity of The Bionic Woman, The Stepford Wives and Blade Runner. But what is it about curvaceous cyborgs that stirs the imagination?

To some, fembots represent the perfect male fantasy: They´re sexy and submissive and have more techie features than the Xbox 360. But they also have a dangerous side that can reduce walls to rubble and make an army retreat. Perhaps the fembot´s allure resides in her ability to walk the line between total obedience and unfathomable power.

Feminist science-fiction writer Amy Thomson, author of robot-comes-of-age novel Virtual Girl, suggests that the fembot myth is attractive to men because it deals with a woman you create and control. But tech journalist Daniel Wilson, author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising, argues that fictional fembots have hardly been portrayed as controllable-in fact, he claims, they´re often presented as the most dangerous robots of all, because feelings of attraction to them could leave their victims vulnerable to attack. A sexy robot that´s aggressive could be a wolf in rubberized skin, he says.

The world´s first big-screen fembot was introduced in Fritz Lang´s 1927 science-fiction masterpiece Metropolis, a film set in a stylized future world of elite technocrats and oppressed machinists. A mad scientist who wants to destroy the machinists invents a beautiful, sadistic female robot that takes the place of a kidnapped political reformer named Maria. The evil Maria robot advocates war and gives a half-speech, half-striptease that whips the machinist masses into a revolutionary fervor.

Metropolis´s sexy, dangerous cyborg became the template for countless others, though not for several decades. There were few fembots in the mid-20th century, but the desire to connect beautiful women and high-tech machines was manifest in the cheesecake pinups painted on fighter planes and the dramatic curves of 1950s roadsters. Indeed, cars were the fembots of the Cold War era, with voluptuous lines and sparkling fins designed to echo the female form. Robots, on the other hand, were depicted as clumsy automatons like Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet (1956). Despite Robby´s male name, the sweet, lumpy ´bot acted like a traditional housewife, bustling around, making clothes, and cooking for the other characters.

Frankenstein-creates-female-robot

But as women´s social roles shifted in real life, so did those of their machine counterparts. In the 1970s, women had broken away from their Robby the Robota style roles in the home and embraced the feminist movement, which led to a crop of fembot protest movies. The most famous of these is The Stepford Wives (1975), a fable in which men replace their uppity wives with obedient, beautiful robots who love cooking, cleaning and sex.

But the pop-culture fembots of the past two decades have been far from domestic. In the 1980s movie Eve of Destruction, a luscious robot with a nuclear bomb for a heart threatens a city with extinction after a man in a bar calls her a bitch. In Blade Runner (1982), Daryl Hannah plays a delicate yet violent robot named Pris who nearly kills Harrison Ford´s character. Terminator 3 (2003) features a female version of the killer cyborg once played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, most spectacularly, nearly all the powerful cylons in the SciFi Channel´s hit TV series Battlestar Galactica are played by strong, devastatingly gorgeous women.

The Battlestar ´bots may be reminiscent of Metropolis´s Maria, but there are shades of Stepford in today´s real-life fembots. Osaka University researcher Hiroshi Ishiguro debuted office android Repilee Expo, modeled after Japanese TV newscaster Ayako Fujii and designed to be a perfect secretary who smiles and flutters her eyelids. But her bosses should beware-if life imitates art, Repilee could take a science-fictional turn for the nasty. We saw it in the movies: Labor unions and sexual-harassment suits are always preferable to an angry fembot. After all, she´s bound to be stronger, faster and smarter than you.

By Annalee Newitz, for Popular Science

Xpresso Fix as compiled an inspiring and sexy fembot gallery for your enjoyment:

Androgynous

androgynous ~ partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex

Some may argue that the rise in popularity of androgynous models is due in part to the very unisex fashion being produced and metrosexual, free lifestyles that have become more popular and acceptable in the last 10 years. The fashion industry as we see it in the media always aims to project the future on us and perhaps the future is far less black and white then what we think.

In today’s post we feature some of the top androgynous models in the fashion scene today:

Born in the Ukraine but living most of his life in Israel its hard to believe that Fashion Model Stav Strashko is in fact a man. Exceptionally feminine in appearance Stav says, “Most people in fashion assume I’m a girl.”, “I really don’t care. Many of my friends address me as ‘she.’ Sometimes, I address myself as a ‘she’ too. I swear, I really don’t care—you can call me whatever you’re comfortable with.” Interestingly, Stav still identifies as a man and has not undergone any sexual reassignment surgery like many other androgynous models.

 

 

Andrej Pejic was born a boy in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a few months before the Bosnian War and had to flee to a refugee camp near Belgrade for safety. After the NATO-led bombing began in 1999, Andrej and her family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. From an early age Andrej identified as a girl and has recently completed her gender-confirmation surgery. Now a successful model, she has modelled for designers such Marc Jacobs and Gaultier where she worked in the male and female fashion shows.

 

But attractive, feminine men are not the only androgynous models making it big in the fashion world. Harmony Boucher, a Londoner, female model but with just enough masculine features to make you pause – is a top model and singer with a band called ‘Vuvuvultures’. The advantage of being a androgynous model is that you can model as a man or a woman – and with modelling jobs difficult enough to come by this can only be seen as a positive.

 

When Swedish model Erika Linder was asked about modelling in both woman’s and men’s fashion ranges she responded ‘I love that since it brings out so much more of who I am. Also, I think I would be so bored doing only female modelling stuff. I’d like to keep a balance.’ When asked if being mistaken for a boy bothered her Erika responded ‘I wouldn’t call it a problem but yet, basically through my whole life so far, people have mistaken me for being a boy. But its funny because I get to go to the men’s bathroom, which I see as a benefit when the girls bathroom always has a line.’

It seems the trend set by the fashion industry a few years ago is here to stay and with equality finally becoming accessible to various gender and sexual orientations around the world – it only makes sense that we should start to see more beautiful models and people in everyday life who cross the gender rules we’ve become accustomed to.

We’ve collected images of some of the most stunning androgynous models out there. See if you can figure out their gender?

 

Pin-up Photo Manipulation Tutorial

Step1: Model Isolation

Open your model stock image, I’ve used this beautiful model photo form Shutterstock

Select the pen tool (P) and slowly draw a path a long the silhouette of the body. Make a selection and invert it (CTRL+SHIFT+I) then press delete. We are going to do some heavy cutting to the original body, it’s better if we have our object isolated so we can create a backup layer of the model in case we make some mistake.

Note: Do you are a newbie who doesn’t know how to extract objects from their background? You may want to check out this quick and easy online course: click here

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Step2: Background

Create a new layer behind the model and fill it with white, this will be our background. Now we can add some shading and texture. To do so, double-click on the layer thumb to bring up the layer styles menu; check the “Gradient Overlay” box and use the following settings.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

The background still looks a bit plain, so we can add some grain using the noise filter.
Create a new layer on top of the background and fill it with black. Go to Filter > Noise > Add noise, use an Amount of 40%, set the distribution to “Uniform” and check the “Monochromatic” box. Change this layer blending mode to screen. Below you can take a look at how your canvas should look.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Step3: Body cutting

Now we are going to start cutting the pieces of the body which we will fill with the machinary and engine parts. Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw an oval shape around the lower part of the model’s body, make a selection (ctrl+enter) and delete it.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Do the same for the left arm.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Step4: Body Filling

Now we create the effect of depth on the model’s body for the missing chunks. First take the Eyedropper Tool (I) and sample midtone, highlight and shadow colors from the skin of the model.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Create a new layer under the model, take the Pen tool and draw again an oval shape around the lower part of the body. This will be the surface part of the waist. Fill that shape with the midtone color and use that color as a base to paint shadows and highlights on the surface in order to blend them and make the effect look realistic.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Make a new layer, just above the layer of the waist, select the two layers and then ALT+CLICK between the thumbnails into the layers panel in order to create a clipping mask. Take a large soft rounded brush and sample a highlight on the body skin (ALT+CLICK while using the brush tool to sample color), or use the color previously selected. Now, according to the light on the body, make some smooth strokes around the lighter parts of the waist. Repeat the previous step for the shadows (take a look at the image below to understand how to add shadows and hihlights).

When you are satisfied, add some noise to the clipped layer with an amount of 3% (this will give a textured effect to the skin).

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Repeat the same for the arm.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Step5: Body Holes

In this step we are going to create the spaces, inside the body, where the gears will be contained.
Create a new layer above the waist layer and take the Pen tool then draw a smaller oval shape inside the waist and fill it with black. Now, using again the pen tool, cut and paste a piece of the upper part of the oval shape and align it with the main shape. This little piece will be the edge of the hole. See the pictures below to understand better how to create the shapes which will contain the mechanical parts of the android.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Add the Layer style to the edge of the hole, in order to create a shiny metallic edge, using a reflected Gradient overlay and Satin with the following settings:

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Repeat the same now for the arm.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Create an edge for the opposite side, just below the stomach of the model.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Step6: Gears

Now we are going to place all the gears and parts of engines that will compose the robotic part of the body.

Download and drag this engine image, place it on your document and resize it. Then rotate it, as shown, so it matches the position of the hole. Make a selection of the hole (CTRL+CLICK on the layer thumbnail) and add a layer mask on the engine stock. This will erase anything outside the circle.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Now add a new layer, just above the layer which contains the engine parts, and then create a clipping mask (it will be useful to paint some shadings and shadows).
Using a soft rounded brush tool and black color to paint some shading, it sjould look like the machinary is fading away inside the body.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Take this engine image and extract it from the background using the Pen tool. Be very careful and patient while you do it, a really detailed extraction makes more believable the final result.
This engine will be the base of the metallic spine. Resize it and place it over the first engine picture. Delete the lower part of the image that falls out of the hole. Then create a new layer and use the same technique, previosly seen, to add a realistic shadow to the last layer.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Extract the piston from its background in this photo. Resize it and go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness and contrast then apply the following settings:

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Flip the image horizontal and place it on top of the engine, then paint a shadow.
Now, to form the spine shape, duplicate the piston several times. Rotate and resize each one a little to simulate the way the ‘backbone’ should be bent.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

For the arm, I’ve extracted one piece of cable from the first engine image:

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Drag the cable whitin the two pieces of the arm and erase the parts that fall outside the hole. Then add a new layer and with the help of the Brush tool paint the shadow.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Step7: Details

Cut a circle in the chest using the Eliptical Marquee tool and mask out the arm. Repeat the same tecnhiques of the previous steps to add the gears on the chest. I’ve used this image to obtain the following result:

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

I’ve also added a little detail on the finger. The tube is a piece from the first engine image.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

For the head we can use this image, you can add a metallic edge on the bottom of the engine as shown.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

Below you can take a look at the final result.

Creating a sexy mechanical pinup in Photoshop

To learn other great photo manipulation techniques visit SDC Online

Feng Shui Around Us

The ancient Chinese art and science of ‘Feng Shui’ has mystified other cultures for centuries. What is Feng Shui and just what importance does it play in everyday life?

Answers to these questions as well as other enlightening information can be found in SDC New online Feng Shui course developed in Asia by expert interior designers. Professional Interior designers as well as home decorators and home improvement enthusiasts will now have the opportunity of completing an easy to understand online course on this engaging field.

Apart from Interior design and decorating, Feng Shui principles can also be used in other areas such as architecture, garden design and health care.

We examined some of the most iconic Feng Shui inspired Architectural marvels below:

City Hall, London, UK

London-City-Hall-Night

The radical shape minimises the surface area exposed to direct sunlight (approx 25 per cent less than an equivalent rectangular building) and saves energy. From a strictly Form School perspective, the flowing design is ideally placed on the South Bank of the River Thames, although it does resemble a pile of coins falling over. In Feng Shui terms it is the metal element, which is good for a municipal building.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, U.A.E

burj_al_arab_sunset

This unique luxury hotel completed in 1999 is built on its own island in the shape of a dhow, a type of Arabian vessel. An interesting example of wind and water! It is the fourth tallest hotel in the world, although almost forty per cent of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. Standing on an artificial island, it is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. In Feng Shui terms, this is a wood type building, which means that it receives a lot of support from its water environment.

Sydney Opera House, Australia

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Begun in 1957 by Architect John Utzon with his competition winning design and eventually completed in August 1973 under the direction of Sir Peter Hall, this building is surely an architectural landmark of the 20th century. In Feng Shui terms, its angular designs mean it is classified as a fire type building; perfect for housing the arts. However, its water environment may lead to disagreements, particularly amongst staff.

Kansai Airport Terminal, Osaka, Japan

Opened in 1994 to relieve overcrowding at Osaka, Kansai is on a man made island. Sinking into the soft soils of Osaka Bay, it sits on hydraulic jacks. The soaring wing-like passenger terminal stretches for over a mile and wide atriums reach over 60 meters to the curved ceiling, where colourful mobiles float on a gentle breeze. This water type building within a water environment is perfect for travel and communication.

Kingdom Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Winner of the “Best New Skyscraper of the Year” for design and functionality in 2002 is based on historic geomantic principles and houses commercial offices, residential apartments and the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh. This 99-storey, 992 ft skyscraper is the second tallest skyscraper in Saudi Arabia and the world’s third tallest building with a hole. This is a metal type building, in a fire and earth type zone.

Check out the SDC Online Feng Shui course: http://www.styledesigncollege.com/course-short-feng-shui.php
Source: http://www.feng-shui-institute.org/

 

Wild Beauties

We were shocked to learn that these images are of real animals! Katerina Plotnikova, katerina-plotnikova-photography-animal-trainera Russian photographer from Moscow has managed to capture these small to very large animals in beautiful harmony with their accompanying human models. All set in the stunning Russian wilderness with its autumn hues and mysterious shadows.

Katerina was able to get this amazing collection of images together by making use of animal trainers who assisted her with each animal. We think the models did a fantastic job, posing so naturally next to and in many cases on top of some really dangerous animals.

To follow Katerina’s work check out her Facebook page

To learn how to take photographs of wild animals click here

 

Magical Burning Man Festival Images

There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. A place where imagination and creative freedom reign supreme. Where you can let your inhibitions go and express yourself in however manner tickles your fancy.

Artists abound at the Burning Man, but one that caught our eye is the oddly colour blind Parisian photographer  Victor Habchy. Using his Sony Alpha camera he has managed to capture the very magical essence of Burning Man. Enjoy…..!