Almost every superhero has an alter ego, and that transition from mild-mannered to hero usually takes place in the blink of an eye. I got the opportunity to do some fun photo retouching to one dog’s photo who won the people’s choice to be the PetSafe Bark For Your Park Hero Dog. The Facebook contest, held before Bark For Your Park kicked off, allowed dog owners and pet lovers to submit pictures and stories of why their dog should be the face of the Petsafe dog park giveaway.

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I don’t have a fortress of solitude but I can still give you a behind-the-scenes look at how I transformed the challenging, user-submitted photo and brought to life the PetSafe’s Hero Dog with my retouching expertise.

With the Hero Dog contest ending days before Bark For Your Park launched, we didn’t have time to get high-resolution, custom photographs so I had to create our own dog. The winner, ;‘;’Sweet Pea, was a mixed breed, shaggy-haired sweetheart who is blind in one eye. When we found out she was the chosen as Hero Dog, I wanted to make sure I crafted the most accurate likeness of her. I started with a stock photo of a dog that had a similar face and size to Sweet Pea but the resemblance ended there. Everything else was Photoshop magic. In the end, I had a beautiful high-resolution photograph to utilize on everything from the website to yard signs.

The Hero Dog lives in the imaginary and immersive world I created for the PetSafe Bark for Your Park contest. The PetSafe brand is all about featuring the best moments between an owner and pet, and the Bark for Your Park contest is making that happen for the third year with a combined $200,000 worth of cash prizes to build dog parks! I created a surreal landscape out of vector elements, photo textures and overlays, shadows and highlights. Mixing vector drawings and photography is one of my favorite styles to work in. Beyond the city and landscape, my favorite elements I got to customize were the dogs. Now, go Bark for Your Park!