In this post I unpack a little about one of my Photoshop Creative readers’ competition entries.


The challenge!

Each month Photoshop Creative magazine holds a competition for readers. Recently the challenge has been to take four random pictures that the magazine has chosen and turning those four images into a creative piece of artwork. You can use your own images if you like, and you don’t have to use all the images. However, I prefer if possible to set myself the challenge of trying to combine all four images supplied.

For this image I also used some brushes, a few extra bird images and manually painted certain areas including the rest of the girl.


The original images

Below are the four original images that were supplied:

The original 4 images from the Photoshop Creative challenge


I spent time considering how I could combine these images to make something that worked, and did a couple of very quick line sketches of various ideas.


Getting started and working it out

Once I had settled on a particular idea, I made a quick composite to visualise whether the elements would work together in the final image. After that, I then began a more detailed process of carefully isolating the various elements from each supplied photo.

At this stage I started working on putting the girl inside the glass. This was by far the most tricky part of the image as I only had the top half of the girl in the photo supplied. I’d given myself the tricky task of making the girl look like she was squashed uncomfortably in the glass (as I thought the original photo with her wrapping her jacket around her already gave a hint of that). I had to hand paint the skirt, legs and feet to make a convincing person inside the glass. In hindsight I might have spend longer getting the perspective on the glass more correct, but as this is a surreal image, it didn’t need to be perfectly right.

In the image below, I’ve isolated the girl and glass artwork so you can see the completed stage with all manipulation in place.


The images below show the construction in progress at a couple of different lower resolution early stages where I was quickly exploring how and where I might add various effects for the overall composition. In the left hand image you can see that I started off looking at the possibility of just hinting at a long dress for the girl, but that didn’t really work, so I tried the legs instead as the right image shows. The right image also shows where I was thinking about adding more elements in the composition. I then developed this on the actual artwork so it was more realistic.




More stages in the process

The next stage was to build the background – this was made from the background of the parasol image. I then added and manipulated the bird images, the parasol, and finally added all the other touches like the smoke swirl, lighting effects, shadows, birds lifting the hair and white flow keeping an eye on the overall colour of the image. The final photomontage is shown below.


The final image




This final image, called ‘Don’t Get Stuck In Your Comfort Zone’ could perhaps be a statement about drinking, being stuck where you are, feeling more comfortable than trying to step out of the situation, and perhaps even choosing to stay where you are and shutting out something better (the parasol shielding the light, and the birds being free outside the glass and also trying to lift the hair up towards the light). Anyway, the image might say something different to you – comments welcome below!


The next challenge!

You can enter the latest challenge at Photoshop Creative here: