As Alice celebrates her 150th birthday in Wonderland, we disappear down the rabbit hole to create a multiplicity fantasy portrait
|THE MISSION Shoot and edit a multiplicity portrait by duplicating the same person over and over again|
|Time needed One hour|
|Skill level Intermediate|
|Kit needed Tripod * Props and costumes * Home studio lighting kit * Photoshop CC|
A multiplicity effect is an opportunity to create a playful scene by duplicating a subject several times. It's a fun technique, involving a clever combination of shooting and Photoshop skills. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, we've recreated the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, with the same person donning a variety of theatrical costumes to play each of Lewis Carroll's famous characters.
Whether you want to go all-out and create a bonkers scene like this, or just fill your sofa with identical buddies, the same technique applies. We keep the camera fixed to a tripod, then take a series of shots while the subject moves into different positions around the frame. As long as the lighting and exposure stays the same, it's easy enough to bring everything together in Photoshop.
We'll begin with the shooting part of the technique here, then show you how to piece the images together over the page. This is simple enough, even for those with very basic Photoshop skills. We bring the images together on separate layers, add layer masks, then paint to hide or reveal the areas that we want. Because everything surrounding each figure is aligned, we don't need to be too precise (unless there are points where figures overlap, then we need to be more accurate). It doesn't take long, and introduces fundamental Photoshop features like layers and masks.
Discover how to prepare your camera and scene for a multiplicity portrait
|LEWIS CARROLL: AUTHOR, POET & PHOTOGRAPHER
Popular from the moment it was published in 1865, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland continues to inspire with its imaginative cast of characters. Fascinatingly, as well as an author and poet, Carroll was an accomplished photographer who mastered the challenging wet-collodion process in the early days of photography. Carroll had his own studio and favorited taking portraits, many of children.
01 A STEADY CAMERA
Use a tripod to ensure your camera stays still and in the same spot for each shot. This makes it easier to combine the images in Photoshop later. Take care not to move props or furniture between shots, either.
02 COMPOSE THE FRAME
Compose with plenty of empty space for your 'clones'. If you're using props and costumes, it can be helpful to do a quick dry-run or mock up a sketch beforehand, like this, to plan poses and characters.
03 CONSISTENT EXPOSURE
Exposure and lighting should stay consistent throughout, so set Manual mode and take test shots to determine the correct exposure. After focusing, set the lens to manual focus to prevent it searching.
04 LIGHTING THE SCENE
Watch out for changes in lighting, especially if the sun dips in and out of clouds. To add a cinematic look we used a couple of home studio flash heads, one positioned for frontal light, the other to the left.
TOP TIPS SIMPLE TECHNIQUES TO ADD TO THE EFFECT
01 DRESS UP
02 MULTIPLY PROPS
03 SOFT FOREGROUND
04 DRESS THE SCENE
05 TRY USING FLASH
STEP BY STEP PIECE TOGETHER YOUR MONTAGE
How to merge all the characters into the scene with layers and masks in Photoshop CC
|IT'S ALL BLACK AND WHITE
When painting on layer masks, a quick way to switch between foreground and background colours is to hit the X key, to swap between black or white and thus mask or reveal the layer below, respectively. For this to work the foreground and background colours need to be set to solid black and pure white - if not, simply hit D to reset them.
01 TONE AN IMAGE
Select the best poses by star-rating images in Bridge. Once done, right-click any image and 'Open in Camera Raw'. Use the Basic panel controls to improve tones, as shown. Click Done to exit back into Bridge,
02 COPY & PASTE ENHANCEMENTS
Right-click on the image. Choose Develop Settings> Copy Settings. Press Ctrl+A to select all, right-click and go Develop Settings>Paste Settings, then go to Tools>Photoshop>Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
03 ADD A MASK
Go to the Layers panel (Window>Layers) and give each layer a suitable name. Highlight the top layer and Alt-click the 'Add Layer Mask' icon in the Layers panel to add a black mask that completely hides the layer.
04 PAINT TO REVEAL
With the layer mask thumbnail highlighted, paint with white to reveal the hidden figure and blend them with the figure on the underlying layer. Grab the Brush tool, set colour to white, then paint over the hidden figure.
05 WORK DOWN THE LAYERS
06 FINE-TUNE THE MASKS
At points where figures overlap, identify which layer is on top, then highlight the mask thumbnail. Zoom in close, use a small brush tip and paint with black to hide parts of the layer until the edges look perfect.
TAKE IT FURTHER IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS...
With layers and masking it's easy to add detailed effects that add to the story
01 INTERACTING CLONES
It takes a little planning to get your 'clones' interacting with one another. If a clone gestures one way, line up the next shot to match it. With a little digital trickery we can even add in extra details like the pouring tea here - to do this we copy in the tea image, then transform and mask.
02 STACKED CUPS
Precariously stacked cups can be created by shooting them in stages, holding each section of cups by hand. As long as you take care that the hands don't obscure the object, it's easy enough to blend the stack together with layer masks in the same way as everything else.
03 RABBIT'S HEAD
To give our rabbit more personality we can add proper eyes. An easy way to do this is to copy and paste eyes from a real person (in keeping with the theme, we used our model's eyes), then use masks to blend the edges. We also shaped the head with the liquify filter to make it more rabbit-like.
WHY NOT TRY? SUBTLE APPROACHES TO MULTIPLICITY
Rather than a complicated, crowded scene, set up a simpler portrait shot with fewer characters
ONE option when making a multiplicity portrait is to fill the scene with characters and props, or to put it another way, the 'chuck everything in bar the kitchen sink' approach. This what we did for our main image on the previous page. But why not try a subtler approach to the subject? Here, by using a long focal length to compress the angle of view and a wide aperture to keep depth of field shallow, we can create a more discreet effect that at first glance looks almost normal. We use the same technique as before, and make sure we lock off the focus by switching it to manual focus.