How to create a photo manipulation: Photoshop tips from a Vamp creator

@nick_asphodel shares his pro advice on using Photoshop to create stunning photo manipualtions.
How to create a photo manipulation

There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing creators take their creativity to the next level.


Truly creative content turns social scrollers into loyal and engaged followers. And makes brands book you for paid collaborations. 

Now there’s 101 ways to boost your innovation and creativity, including creating stop motions, cinemagraphs and transitions. But today we’re deep-diving into the world of photo manipulations. A creative editing technique that builds a new image out of multiple different layers of other images.

They’re the mind-boggling and incredibly imaginative Photoshop artworks that allow creators to express their creativity and skills. But what does it take to create one yourself?

After collaborating with brands like Swatch and Adobe, we asked Vamp creator and digital artist, @nick_asphodel for his pro advice. Nick shares his top tips for using Photoshop to create innovative photo manipulations.

How to create a photo manipulation

Hey Nick! Your photo manipulations are next level! Why do you choose Photoshop to help you create them? 


It provides an endless amount of possibilities. I love this software for one simple reason, there is always something new you can learn. Photoshop allows me and my art to constantly evolve.


What advice do you have for shooting content that is easy to manipulate in Photoshop? 


Always explore new artworks from different artists, no matter their popularity or status. This trains your eye so you can better understand what types of images you’ll need to shoot or source, in order to create your photo manipulations.

You should also pay close attention to image quality. This will make it a whole lot easier to create a more ‘realistic’ photo manipulation. The higher the resolution, the better! That’s where the RAW image format comes in handy. You can then fix the exposure, color grading and composition of those RAW images in Photoshop.


How important is it to use the layering tool in Photoshop?


Layering is the most important feature you’ll use when creating your photo manipulations in Photoshop. It gives you the possibility to build complex and realistic artworks by creating scale and perspective, depth of field and much more. It’s hard to imagine creating anything in Photoshop without using layers!

How to create a photo manipulation

What’s the process you go through when creating your photo manipulations in Photoshop?


My creative process always starts with sourcing my inspiration. I’ll look back on my memories of all the different pieces of art and content I’ve seen. I’ll seek out new ideas until one finally clicks. This deep-dive is actually a kind of meditation for me! 

Then comes the technical part, which varies depending on the project or campaign. If I’m creating organic content, then it’s a completely experimental and sometimes chaotic process. My idea will constantly evolve, so I follow where it naturally leads me. 

When I have to create content for a brand, I’ll meticulously plan everything out in advance, from beginning to end. Here’s an insight into what this looks like:

#1 Source my inspiration. 

#2 Develop a concept.

#3 Sketch out my idea. 

#4 Collect all the material I need. I’ll either shoot new content or search for stock images using iStock, Adobe Stock or Unsplash.

#5 Build the scene in Photoshop by layering all of the images and elements together to create the final shot.

#6 Color grade the finished product in Photoshop.

#7 Add my finishing touches. Including small textural elements, adjusting perspective and adding highlights or shadows to add depth.


Any final words of advice? 


I suggest mastering Photoshop to a level when you fully understand how to turn your ideas into real pieces of art. To do that, I recommend watching loads of different tutorials that explain how certain Photoshop tools can be used to create the effect you’re looking for. I believe the best way to learn is by creating. 

Finally, be patient with yourself and remember that everything good takes time and loads of practise.

Follow Nick on Instagram to check out more of his work.


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