This week we return to the work of photomanipulation masters. From Part 1: “By photomanipulation, I mean a digital collage, a photo montage, of two or more images. When done successfully, it should look like a coherent image: the light source and color balance is consistent, nothing looks “cut out”. Photomanips require good, solid Photoshop skills, and a great imagination. The best photomanippers (new word, just made it up) have an uncanny ability to imagine how a given image can be altered and brought into a collage. Rarely are photos ready to go. You need to remove things, change the size, color, orientation…the list is endless. The end result can be something quite magical. It truly is an art.”
So the emphasis here is on combining quite ordinary photographs into one single, extraordinary image with them. Today we’ll look at some work by Pat Brennan (”Moonmomma” on deviantArt.com). She continually amazes me with her ability to see beyond the photos she starts with. She has great imagination and vision. I envy this ability in others, because I have a hard time imagining a photo looking different. I’m pretty literal-minded. When I see work like Pat Brennan’s, I’m reminded of just how limitless our possibilities are in this still-new medium.
Brennan used the image here to create the incandescent image at the top of the article. She flipped the photo, and then added hand-painted elements as well as texture images from her own files. Which makes it sound easy, if you are familiar with Photoshop layers and so forth. But what blows my mind is how she really created the majority of this image out of thin air. Photographs are used, but this isn’t simply a matter of placing one person from this photo into that scene, and calling it done. Let’s look at another example.
The images below come from www.sxc.hu (clock) and Eli-Exposed-Stock on deviantArt. Given these two images, what would you come up with? What if you could add anything you wanted? Suddenly, the possibilities are endless! Where do you even begin? Here’s what Pat Brennan came up with.
Four of the elements here come from the Prague clock image, but it’s not obvious, at first, that the same image is being used four times. Brennan has painted over the model, adding a new hairstyle, and given her a cloud to sit on. She’s added other images, including stars, wings, and a dove. The end result is not realistic, nor is it meant to be. It’s a cohesive, dreamlike vision, made of various elements and a lot of imagination.
To my literal mind, a photo like this calls for a portrait. A realistic portrait. Brennan turns it into an illustration. Three dimensional space is played with here. Notice the transition from the face to the shoulders and hand. The face is high contrast and stands out, which is what we expect. But then the other elements are flattened into 2D space. The nest seems to be on her head, but at the same time it looks like it was painted onto the paper. Holding it all together is Brennan’s wonderful color sense and composition. This kind of symbolic, ethereal imagery is something I’d really like to try in my own work. I’m sure it’s a lot harder than it looks, though!
I want to finish up today with two images by Pat Brennan. Both used the exact same photo as their starting point, but the results are quite different. The starting image is by Dheks on deviantArt.
This is a rather arresting portrait, and you can see why Brennan was taken with it enough to use it twice. In the first example, the subject has a bird’s nest for a hat, once again. And, once again, it works. I would never have thought of a bird’s nest. The second example is quite different. The head is outsized, sort of like the Red Queen in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. So it has a Wonderland feel to it. Both of these are wonderful, inspiring images, and I thank Pat Brennan for sharing her work with us.
- Inspiration: Photomanipulation Masters Part 1
- Inspiration: Photomanipulation Masters Part 2
- Inspiration: Photomanipulation Artistry by Louvre89
- Inspiration: Nathan Smith
- Inspiration: 20 Amazing Photomanipulations
- Inspiration: Painting Faux-Historical Portraits
- A Gold Mine of Free Stock Photos for Fantasy Images