The Perfectly Powerful Peanut – Retouching Q&A

chris crisman national peanut board advertising

After releasing our blog post on creating a campaign for The Perfectly Powerful Peanut, we realized that there was still a big portion of the images and ultimately the campaign that we did not address – the retouching. In this unique scenario, we relied on the talents of the expert retoucher and digital artist Taisya Kuzmenko to combine our photography with custom botanical illustrations and work some magic to make a final image that was greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Collaborating with the creatives at LBVD, we were able to create some really amazing work – and who better to explain how it came together than the digital artist herself. Keep reading for our retouching Q&A as well as a handful of in-process shots of how this campaign came together…


(An original comp from the project)

How was this process different than most of the projects we’ve worked on before?

The Peanut campaign turned out to be one of my favorite projects. From the moment i got the mock ups, i thought that the main idea was great. The art directors were looking to incorporate beautifully done botanical illustration of the peanut plant with the hero-subjects. Another neat idea, which can only be noticed by a curious observer, is that a few real peanut plant leaves, which overlap the heroes are blended into botanical illustrations. I think this was a smart way to fuse the illustration part of the image with the awesome photographic work, shot by Chris of course.


(Botanical Illustrations)

How did you approach working with the botanical illustrations? Were they difficult to work with?

It was cool to work with real illustrations. I was amazed by the quality of drawings, done by a skillful hand of the artists. A bit of a tricky part was to blend the illustrations into the background. I wanted to preserve as much of the rigid pencil/crayon border, with all the little details (root system, thorns) of the peanut illustrations, so that it looked as if it was drawn right on the background.

Were the backgrounds created? How did you go about that process?

When we started the project, the art directors asked us to come up with a few variations of the background. I created a dozen options, varying in tone and texture. It was interesting to see how the different background plates were effecting the mood of the add. Even though a lot of other backgrounds looked cool, we decided to go with a pastel yellow, in order to match towards the fresh look and feel of original botanical illustrations.


(Original photos above and blended composite below)


Can you tell us about how you merged real photos of peanut plans into the illustrations?

In addition to the portraits, Chris shot a lot of real peanut plant leaves to work with which had to get cleaned up and incorporated into the illustration. I wanted to make sure this changeover is effortless and natural so that the viewers eye can move down the line of the peanut plant branch onto the Hero without a hiccup. This little detail brought some extra originality to the whole composition.



What was the biggest challenge of creating these images?

The biggest challenge of these ads was to keep all the details of botanical illustrations. Since the illustrations were drawn with pencil, the line of the plant was rigid, not pathable, and not too mask-friendly. My usual path/mask combo and some painting by hand did the trick. Ultimately I was pleased with the way the illustration merged into the BG, with as much detail preserved as possible.


Do you have a favorite?

When all was done, i was really amazed by the overall look of the campaign. It’s freshness and elegance was carried through the first add to the last one.  Each add carries a unique character of the Hero depicted. Its hard to pick the favorite one, but in my case it might be the Mom/Daughter image.  In this the interaction between the Heroes and the Plant is awesome. And the little girl is just so cute, that no one can pass by this add without taking a second look at it.

Besides the amazing project, i also got to interact with super friendly, highly professional, amazingly funny art directors Gene Powers and Steve Saari from LAWLER BALLARD VAN DURAND. Thanks to their detailed feedback and helpful suggestions, as well as their overall positive attitude and great sense of humor made this project by far one of the coolest, funnest and rewarding experiences. Thank you, Gene and Steve!

We owe a big thank you to Taisya for taking the time to break down these images and share a bit of her process with her. Interested in seeing more amazing digital artistry? Make sure to check our her website:!

Last but not least – we do have one more piece of peanut related news to share – the campaign was recently featured in Communication Arts Exhbit!