As promised, here is the photo of Sam I composed. This is based on a digital copy of Thomas Gainsborough’s, “The Blue Boy” and I’ve called it, yep, you guessed it, “The Blue Dog.”
I really needed a diversion the other day, after attempting to review and process about 800 photos from my vacation on the Great Lakes (more on that in weeks ahead). I had seen this sort of composite before, but never tried it myself. So, here is an overview of my adventure into this sector of digital art. First I needed to select both originals. I already knew I wanted to use the Gainsborough shot and combed the web until I found a suitable copy to use. I then looked for a head shot of Sam that could be manipulated to fit the size I needed. Placing both images in Photoshop side by side I was able to select out the Sam’s head from the image I found and adjust the size so that it would look well on the master painting. Then I copied it and pasted it into the copy of the painting. Since Sam was facing in a slightly different direction than the Blue Boy, I used Photoshop’s Edit/Transform/Rotate tool to move the head so that it was looking slightly left. So far so, good.
I had initially intended to just use Sam’s face and leave the Blue Boy’s hair intact, but that did not work well for me. I suspect it takes a bit more practice to get it just right and a head photo that fits the painting perfectly. So, I wound up erasing the hair on the painting, and repairing the background so that I could just place the dog’s head on the body without having open spaces in the rear. This worked well, and after feathering and blurring the edges of the head a bit I was able to obtain a seamless composite.
Why this photo? Hey, I had the biggest chuckle of the day (the month even!) and everyone else who has seen it has had the same reaction. Bringing a little laughter into someone’s life is worth all the time and effort it took me to prepare the image. AND, I’ll have more of this type of thing in the future so I can keep the chuckles coming. You can see framed prints and notecards of this photo at Gallery 26 in Easton, Maryland, and if you’d like to learn more about compositing, or combining two images, check out some of the Photoshop courses at Better Photo. Jim Zuckerman, among others, teaches several courses that explore the realms of image art available by working with Photoshop. Click on the Better Photo image to the right to see additional information about these courses.
P.S. The Gainsborough painting is out of copyright, which is why I was able to use it for this image. Also, these composite’s are not eligible for competitions or juried shows where 100% of the image must be the photographer’s own. If you want to explore an all-photography method to producing master style images of dogs or other pets, take a look at the photographs of Andrew Pinkham. I was fortunate to view an exhibit of his images at the Philadelphia International Airport last week. It is an amazing body of work.