I started working on The Tunnel about a year ago. The photo is a selfie I shot in a tunnel under a railroad a couple of kilometers from where I live.
I set my camera up on a tripod, took a remote triggered hotshoe flash in my hand, set the camera timer for 10 seconds, and ran like crazy to get into the right position in time.
It took several tries, but finally I had a shot that was good enough.
I wnt to a fish store and shot octopus tentacles. However, that did not work out as I had hoped. Dead octopi don't pose well.
After several tries, I finally put the picture aside. I realized I would have to try something else.
Awhile ago, I started using Daz Studio to compose 3D scenes. That got me thinking about using a 3D model of an octopus to create the picture you see. A couple of days ago I gave it a try.
With Daz, it was relatively easy to position the tentacles.
What you see here are the rendered tentacles, right out of Daz Studio.
I composited, added shadows, and relit the picture in Affinity Photo.
At this point, I had a so-so photo composite. It did not quite work as a photo, because the tentacles looked a bit artificial to start with. Also, the photo was a bit too clean. I wanted a dirtier tunnel.
Filters in Affinity Photo, Photoshop, and most other tools, do a mathematical transformation of the image. In many situations, that is exactly what you want.
However, I wanted a more painterly feel. At this point, I had two ways to go:
- Use the Paint Mixer tool in Affinity Photo to paint the whole picture manually. That works very well, but it is also very time consuming.
- Use Dynamic Auto-Painter to paint automatically, with manual input only where necessary. Much faster, nearly as fun, and arguably, better results. (Depending on how good an artist you are.)
I also created a couple of variations. The very dark one you see here is actually closer to what I had in mind originally.
My son thinks this is the best version because "what you cannot see is scarier than what you can see."
He's got a very good point.
Because the picture is so dark, it can appear almost completely black on some monitors though.
I created an in-between version, darker than the first, but brighter than the second.
Which version you prefer, is of course up to you.
You can find these pictures, and a portfolio I am building, at ArtStation.