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Master the Art of Photo Manipulation

Raw Deal Project (Part 1)


Raw Deal Project p1 title postPhotoshop walkthroughs are great, they can provide unique insight into the workflow of an artist and demystify the creative process. For obvious reasons walkthroughs are concise in their nature, explaining the A-Z of how to achieve a particular outcome; but how true are they to the real artistic journey? As any creative will know, sometimes the process is meandering, with many twists and turns. Enter: The Raw Deal Project.

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Raw Deal

Every so often I like to create updated versions of older photo manipulations, using new skills that I have developed over the years. Sometimes these turn into a series and it’s a great way to track your progression visually. Back in the day (2005) when I started paying serious attention to the art of photo manipulation, I produced a piece of work called Raw Deal, here it is in all it’s goofy glory:

Raw Deal I by ConzpiracyAs you can see I had limited understanding of the importance of stock photography and fell into the many pitfalls that many beginners run into; but I had a vision goddamnit! A few months later, I revisited this theme and created a sequel piece, imaginatively titled Raw Deal II:

Raw Deal II by Conzpiracy

It’s amazing to see what 5 months worth of practice can achieve! Although a bit rough n ready, this piece was a step toward the outcomes I wanted to achieve; at the time I was a staunch Giger fanatic so the vibe was coming through strong in my work.

Warts n’ All

It’s been seven years and I really want to revisit the Raw Deal universe and produce a sequel (Raw Deal III?). This time however I will be documenting the progress from conception to completion here on SurrealPSD. As opposed to producing the art and uploading a nicely polished walkthrough, the aim here will be to illustrate the dead-ends, failed ideas and eureka moments. Very rarely is a piece executed from start to finish without any pitfalls, so hopefully this series will provide a unique insight into the true process of photo manipulation.


Getting Started

For big projects like university assignments or client work, I normally start with sketches and / or mood boards. For those not yet in the habit of producing mood boards, it’s a practice I’d very much recommend; it fires up the old creative neurons and can provide a solid starting point to gain traction.

Im a very visual person, so I like to have a big load of ideas on one sheet to vibe off. To start, I create an A4 document in Photoshop and literally just paste in a whole load of images that evoke the colour, tone, feelings and emotion that I would like to achieve in my piece. Naturally, DeviantArt  is an awesome place to find inspiring art of all forms, but theres some new kids on the block regarding inspiration. Tumblr profiles are often giant mood-boards in themselves, and I find plenty of inspiration grazing on amazing collections such as Justin Maller’s:


Raw Deal Mood Board

Click for Full-Size

Here’s the mood board I put together for the Raw Deal piece; it literally took 10 minutes to produce however it will be incredibly useful in the creative process. I’ll refer to this palette of visuals as I go forward with the photo manipulation.



At this point I’d usually spend a fair amount of time seeking out stock that I can use to execute my ideas and deliver the concept. This process can often be as drawn out as the creation of the piece itself, so in Part 2 I’ll give you the full skinny on what stock I choose and why.

Look forward to seeing you all in the next instalment!

Conzz 8-)

Follow on Twitter >> @Conzpiracy

>> Part 2

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6 Responses to “Raw Deal Project (Part 1)”

  1. Caz says:

    I can’t wait to see this! I thought I was the only one struggling, pulling my hair out and snapping at loved ones during creation…

    Hurry up then! :D (Only joking)

  2. JERRY says:

    F’en Wicked brother!! Bring it on…

    (Theologianofthegash on DA)

  3. Kiren says:

    If they only knew..And now they will!! Are you sure you wanna do this? jk

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