Robo Trader

Okay, so it doesn’t have the same ring to it as Robocop but it’s more likely to be the future in Bilston market than an OCP Provided hybrid of man and machine.

Mr Robot.

My final image from the 2100 Future series is of a market trader sat, wrapped up in warm winter clothes, next to his jewellery stall. I asked the trader if I could take his photo and he kindly agreed to it after I explained that I was a student at the University Of Wolverhampton.

I snapped a few shots of him alone and then a couple with him sat behind his merchandise, I did this angle so that I could possibly change the items for sale depending on what I thought the future might hold.

Going through the images I’d done already for this module they seemed a little wide and far away from the personal angle which I think is also important to consider for how things might be in the near future. I figured that this image could somehow be altered to make it seem more futuristic so I brainstormed a couple of ideas until I settled on making the trader into a robotic figure and then changing his products to be relevant.


Researching on youtube how to make someone appear more robotic involved drawing paths on the face then using transforms to emboss the paths to make them seem to be joins in the plates of the face. It was a subject that people do regularly apparently, and movie embodiments of this style could be found in Ex Machina or even in Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Nebula.

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina
Karen Gillan as Nebula in Guardians Of the Galaxy

In the end I decided that I would just substitute a picture in from a google image search as suggested by Gavin.

I found this friendly looking robot face originally created by Vitaliy Sokol in a google image search and then had to remove the watermark for my image to appear unmarked. If I was using this in a commercial way I would definitely pay for the image and use it according to the copyright and licensing rules. After all I try to sell some of my images online and would also be offended if someone were using my images in a fashion that I hadn’t intended it to be.

Robot Face by Vitaliy Sokol


In Photoshop I selected the face, ear and all between the scarf and the hat of my market trader, then inverted it and copied it up to a new layer. I now had a space where I can fit the robotic face into without having to worry about it covering the existing parts of the image I wished to keep.

Once the watermark was patched using the patch and clone tools to copy over unmarked areas I copied the whole of the head from the image and pasted it into a layer between the background and the layer with a face hole. I could now see whether it fitted correctly, with regards to scale and angle. I used the Transform tool to stretch it whilst constraining the proportions to fit into the image.

Fusion Illusion

Once happy with the face I could move onto the products for sale on the table in the foreground. If this were the year 2100 and nuclear fusion was a power source used in everything from watches to spacecraft then you’d need to refill items, pretty similar to how people who vape today must buy chemicals and batteries from these type of market stalls.

Researching into nuclear fusion I found that two fuels are needed, Deuterium and Tritium are the initial parts of the fusion reaction with the products being energy and water or hydrogen, so I thought to include a starter kit consisting of little silver canisters that people could buy for cash of this market stall to top up their fusion powered home electricity system.

Fusion reactors of today are huge devices called Tokamaks, often in the shape of a donut, that require large quantities of energy in order to begin and maintain the process. There has been some recent progress in actually getting more energy out of a fusion process than is actually input, but it’s still far from a commercial proposition. Fusion was represented in the movie Back To The Future with the Delorean Time Machine receiving its 1.21 Gigawatts of electricity from a Mr Fusion device mounted on the rear of the vehicle. With this in mind I grabbed small images of the Mr Fusion device from a Toyota promotional document and also an image of a fusion reactor (from ITER-India) that I could shrink down and put in the small jewellery boxes on the stall.

Mr Fusion from Toyota Promotional Website

To do this I had to go into each of the small boxes with a black brush and draw over the necklace or earrings before pasting an image of the fusion reactors or gas canisters over the top.

Sign Of The Times

Many market stalls use hand written signs to advertise products and prices so I considered using such a device to inform the viewer of the images contents, I created a small white rectangle, aged it with a black spray brush and then used a graphics tablet to handwrite the text:

“Fusion Reactors & Starter Packs, Buy 2 get 1 Free”

Once this was on the stall I used warp transform to try and match the angle of the stand, but something wasn’t right. The Depth Of Field on the image was shallow and focussed on the traders face. The f/2.8 aperture mean that the goods on the table in the foreground were out of focus so I needed to make the items blurred using the Blur More tool on the layers with the sign, canisters, and small reactors until it felt blurry enough to fit in with the other items on the table.

Review Of Images

Once finished I presented it at the review and this image got a couple of giggles and a some nice compliments which was nice. I really doubt that if robots are operating in markets in 2100 they will be perched on a stool like this trader was, they would be unaffected by standing on the cold concrete so wouldn’t need to sit down really.

It might be that it’s a hybrid of man and machine with augmentation giving humans more capable senses and protection from the elements so a robotic facial overlay may be something that’s possible. After all we’ve seen Google Glass and Oculus VR goggles that augment the users ability to see extra content in the world around them so a face covering or even a facial transplant with robotic technology could be possible.

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