Do you want to create stunning, otherworldly images that look like they came straight out of a fairytale? If so, then fantasy photography may be the perfect genre for you.
In this beginner's guide to fantasy photography, we'll show you how to create surreal, ethereal, and magical images using a combination of photography and Photoshop manipulation. You'll learn how to find inspiration for your fantasy photos, set up your shots, and use Photoshop to bring your visions to life.
So what are you waiting for? Let's start creating some incredible images.
What is Fantasy Photography
Fantasy photography is a genre of photography that involves creating images that are based on fantasy, mythology, and folklore. Fantasy photos often feature surreal or magical elements, such as fairies, elves, goblins, and dragons.
This genre of photography is often mistaken for cosplay photography, but there is a key difference between the two. Cosplay photography focuses on recreating scenes from specific fantasy stories or movies, while fantasy photography is about creating original images inspired by fantasy stories and folklore.
How to Create Fantasy Photography?
Just like any other genre of photography, fantasy photography requires both a creative eye and technical skills. Below we'll explore the necessary steps to take in order to create your own fantasy photograph.
1. Find Inspiration
The first step in creating any kind of photography is to find inspiration. For fantasy photography, look to classic fairy tales, mythology, and folklore for inspiration. You can also find inspiration in fantasy movies, TV shows, and video games.
Some popular sources of inspiration for fantasy photography include:
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Hobbit
- Harry Potter
- Game of Thrones
- The Witcher
Once you've found some sources of inspiration, it's time to define your concept.
2. Define Your Concept
Your concept will help you visualize how you want your picture to look and how you want it to be read by others once viewed. This is where you will better understand how to pose your model, direct and position the camera, and even how much of your image will be computer generated.
For example, if you have a concept of a beautiful fairy queen in fantastic, ethereal clothing, that is how you will need to plan and shoot your fantasy image. All other elements will take form in the background as per your concept.
A common misconception of fantasy photography is that it only involves putting a model in front of a green screen and then compositing elements after the image has been shot. In reality, your concept should be the foundation upon which you build your image.
3. Find a Location
Now that you have a concept, it's time to find a location that will help you visualize it. The key to finding the perfect location is ensuring that you can access it easily and that there is enough natural light.
Your choice of location should help further your concept. For example, if you have a concept of a siren/mermaid, a rocky beach with clear water can be a perfect choice of location.
The season you are in will also be useful when determining the best locations. For example, an indoor pool would be ideal for a mermaid fantasy photoshoot in the winter.
4. Style Your Model
This is the fun part. Here you get to create your character's appearance. Think of this part as the icing on the cake. For example, on the concept of a beautiful fairy queen in fantastic, ethereal clothing, this is how you will need to style your model.
Mythical and fantasy creatures are not as "real" looking as humans. So, makeup can be a great way to add a little something extra to your fantasy creature. The key is balance. Try to strike the right balance between being too realistic and not too realistic.
Your clothes should reflect the theme of your concept while still complementing the model's natural features. For example, in our concept of a beautiful fairy queen in fantastic, ethereal clothing, her clothing should be fluffy and ethereal but still fit her figure nicely.
Accessories can be an important component of fantasy photography that help you create an atmosphere or tell a story. For example, adding a crown to our beautiful fairy queen could help represent her as the queen she is.
5. Start Taking Photos
This part has no simple formula since it depends on your concept but here are a few guidelines:
- Try to have your model pose in a way that suits your concept. This will help make editing easier.
- Ensure that your model is well-lit. This will help you remove any unwanted shadows in post-production.
- Use a tripod to reduce blurriness when shooting your photo.
- Take photos in RAW. This format contains more color information and data than JPEG, making it easier to edit and manipulate the image in post-production.
6. Edit Them in Photoshop
Once you've taken your photos, it's time to bring your vision to life with Photoshop. With Photoshop, you can add extra elements, such as trees, wings, and fog. You can also change the colors of your photos to create a more surreal look.
And there you have it. These are the basics of how to create fantasy photography. Now it's time to start planning your own shots and bringing your visions to life.
If you're not familiar with Photoshop, don't worry. We have a detailed step-by-step tutorial on photoshopping wings for fantasy photography. Keep reading to find out.
Photoshop Tutorial for Fantasy Wing Effects
So you've always wanted to know how to make those nifty little fantasy wings in photoshop? Well, it's actually quite simple. Below is a step by step tutorial on how to create your own fantasy wings.
Step 1: Load Image Into Workspace
- After you have selected the image you want to use, open it in Photoshop. You will be working on this image to create the fantasy wing effects, so the image must be high quality so that the final product looks realistic.
- To open it in photoshop, simply drag and drop it into photoshop's workspace area.
Step 2: Add a New Layer
- With your image open, you must first add a new layer before we start editing. To do this, click the new layer icon on the bottom right of the screen (It is the second last icon). The keyboard shortcut for this is CTRL + SHIFT + N.
- Set the background color to white
Step 3: Find Your Desired Wings
- Select your brush tool
Click on the brush set picker, and from the menu, select the brush that has your desired wing
- If you can't find the type of wings you want to work with, do a quick search and download them online for free.
- If you found one that you like, click on it to select it, and now we can proceed to add it to our photo.
Step 4: Add Wings
- With the new layer we added selected, try to position the wings in a way that looks natural.
- If the wings appear too small, increase the size of the brush to make them larger. Click on the brush set picker and slide the size knob left or right to change the brush size.
- Once you're okay with the size, move the wings around until you're happy with the position.
Step 5: Mask the Wings
- Once you have the wings in a position you like, use a layer mask to help blend the wings into the image.
- To do this, make sure the new layer with the wings is selected and change the background of the layer from white to black.
- With the layer mask selected, use a brush to paint over the areas where you want the wings to blend in.
- From the brush set picker, again, choose a round brush.
- From the layer we created, choose the layer mask.
- Now, set the opacity to 100% and move the brush over areas you don't want the wings to show. The black color will hide those areas, and the wings will appear behind those parts of the image.
- In case you make an error, switch the background color back to white and paint over that area with the brush to restore it.
Step 6: Add Extra Elements
- If you want to add extra elements like fairy dust or glitter to the wings to make them more fantasy-like, this is the time.
- To do this, create a new layer(Layer 2) just like before by clicking on the new layer icon on the bottom right of the screen (the keyboard shortcut for this is CTRL + SHIFT + N).
- Choose the brush tool and from the brush set picker, choose a brush with the desired effect you like.
- Now with the new layer selected, choose a white background and add the new element to your photo.
Step 7: Mask Again
- Since we already created a great mask earlier, we can just copy that mask to our Layer 2.
- To do this, first, apply a mask to layer 2, and while holding ALT, drag and drop layer 1's mask to Layer 2.
- This will automatically apply the mask
Step 8: Final Touches
- Check for any unwanted areas in your mask. To do this, press the backslash key (\)
- Now that we can see spots we missed, hide these areas by using a brush to paint over them with the black background selected.
- Adjust the opacity to improve the effect. Around 56% is good.
- Unlink the mask from the layer so that the mask doesn't move when we move the added wings around.
- With your mask unlinked, you can make any final changes without worrying about the entire image moving around.
- To add a little glowy effect to the wings, add an outer glow.
- Go to layer - Layer Style - Outer Glow.
- In the open dialogue, choose a similar color to the background. This helps it blend better.
- Now play around with size and opacity until you are satisfied.
- You can copy this effect to the other layer by copying and pasting the layer style.
- Play around with levels to adjust the contrast if need be.
- That's it. You should be done now with an amazing fantasy photograph.
Fantasy photography is a creative and unique way to show your subject in a different light. With a few simple steps, you can create fantastic fantasy photos.
All you need is a little imagination and some basic Photoshop skills. With a little practice, you can create stunning fantasy images that will wow your viewers. So get creative and have fun.
Tutorial Image Credit: youtube.com
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