I’ve been fascinated with Halloween, ghost stories, and the ethereal world just beyond our grasp since I was a young girl. It’s no surprise that my fascination with all things otherworldly would weave its way into some of my digital art compositions. I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to constructing surreal worlds with digital software, whether it be with Photoshop or a combination of my favorite iPhone apps as seen in this tutorial. With a few easy-to-use mobile apps you can transform a photographic portrait into an enchanting, ghostly scene, as I have here.
This article invites you into my digital studio and gives you a fly-on-the-wall look into my artistic process for this purely mobile piece, where I use a “double exposure” technique coupled with filters from various apps, digital “paint” and element applications, and general editing tweaks.
1. Snap a portrait of yourself with your mobile phone. I used the app Camera+, which has a self-timer feature. One of the main reasons I like this camera app is that it allows you to separate focus from exposure. It also has helpful basic editing tools and filters that can correct less-than-perfect exposure, as well as a fine collection of artistic filters to add creative flare (I applied the ‘Ansel’ black and white filter to this photo). Shooting with the iPhone’s native camera, especially with its HDR setting on (to ensure even exposure), also works well. Tips: When taking self-portraits I use a special mobile phone tripod that mounts onto my regular DSLR tripod. A selfie stick could also do the trick. Or, photograph someone other than yourself.
2. Play with shadows and highlights using the app Noir. I made adjustments in this app to create a faux light source that shines on the hair, and shadows that serve to darken the figure some.
3. Reopen the photo in the app Camera+ and add a gold-colored filter to your black and white shot. The filter will serve to tint the monochrome image.
4. Using the app Image Blender, combine the photo from step 2 with the photo from step 3. This is where the fun begins! Using the Mask feature and the Eraser tool, you can scrub away some of the gold layer, revealing the monochrome layer underneath. Leave the hair gold to achieve the interesting tonal effect that this combination creates. I also used this app to add a custom texture and a splash of digital gold glitter “paint” (a digital scrapbooking .PNG file) – you can see the glitter in the photo for the next step, underneath the figure’s right eye.
5. Part A: Open the image in the app Mextures and add a variety of filters. I combined multiple filters in this step, played with the blend modes of each, and reduced the opacity of each layer, slowly building up the filters/textures until I achieved the look I wanted.
5. Part B: Open two copies of the resulting image (from part A) in the app Image Blender. Use the Arrange feature to move one of the copies over to the right of the composition, thus creating the ‘double exposure’ effect. Reduce opacity of the duplicate to create a ghostly effect, and use the Mask feature and Eraser tool to scrub away unwanted pixels.
6. Add lip and eye “makeup” for contrast, using the general editing app Leonardo. Use the Brush tool to achieve this, changing up its size, brush type, and opacity to get the desired effect. Make final adjustments in Leonardo, playing with saturation and exposure/contrast/brightness.
Tip: Another app that has ‘double exposure’ capability is Diana. It’s worth some exploration
Award winning iPhoneographer and DSLR photographer from Maine, USA. She is the author of four instruction-based books (published in the US and abroad by F+W Media, North Light Books) on the subject matter of digital art with Photoshop, mobile photography and DSLR photography, and mixed-media art. Her latest book, Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual and Make Creative Photos (about DSLR photography and mobile photography) was recently released by North Light Books and has been a best-seller in its category on Amazon.
Susan currently offers two online photography courses — The Art of iPhoneography Self-Portraiture http://fineartgrunge.com/iphonecoursespecial/?orid=4849&opid=2 and Co-Lab: Paint, Paper and iPhoneography Magic http://www.colabartistry.com/ (co-taught with best-selling author and mixed-media artist Alena Hennessy). Susan is currently the Technical Advisor for Somerset Digital Studio Magazine. You can view more of her work, explore her blog, and find workshop details at her website SusanTuttlePhotography.com Instagram: susantuttle Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.tuttle.144