A few months ago I was attending ‘Imagen Palabra’, an illustration event realized by the University Los Libertadores, during this event I had the opportunity to see the work of my friend Michel Almonacid. As he was showing us his photo-illustrations, one of the guys that was standing next to me said “that’s some kick@ss work, how does he do that?”, then I asked myself the same thing and in the best style of a Discovery Channel show, I decided to ask directly to the author and he was more than happy to ask me some questions about his process and then he shared with me some pics to help me understand the work that was behind his photo-illustration technique.
Mishes: What’s the process behind the creation of your photo-illustrations?.
First step: Conceptualization and imagination
Michel Almonacid: First of all, the most important thing is to enjoy every illustration I make, then I define the concept that I’m going to approach and I close my eyes to picture how I’m going to communicate through an illustration all that I’m seeing in my head. From that point I start to see references and think about the graphic elements that could help me with the work, all this process helps me joint all the pieces together and hopefully, I’ll be able to achieve the goal that I’ve defined from the start.
Step two: Initial preparations
Having the idea clear as water in my head, I try to do the best I can to translate it to a tangible field. On this case I raised an improvised photography studio with a model, a few lights, some objects and color planes that helped me with the image capturing without having to make much digital arrangements.
Step three: Photo shoot
During this stage I like to take lots of pictures, tried different planes and angles as well as experiment with the props and create different situations, all these exercises can help me discover the fittest picture to communicate my idea.
The next thing to do is import the final photograph to the computer, then I open Photoshop and Illustrator and I begin the edition process.
Step four: Graphic edition in Photoshop
I use Photoshop to remove the background, then I make some color adjustments as well as adjust the lights and shadows, apply textures, add some blur, etc. I continue to experiment until I obtain the atmosphere that I want to have on the photo-illustration. This is where your creativity plays an important role, though I always try not to improvise, I do my best to translate as close as possible the original idea that I had in mind.
Step five: Graphic edition on Illustrator
Now it’s time to move on to Illustrator, which is where I add the clothing details, ornaments and typography. On this case the piece makes part of an illustration series that criticize fads in both illustration and design, leaving clear my disagreement on that subject, that’s where the name “New Collection” comes from, I take typical fashion elements and place them over the main character, mixing them with some additional objects that help me reinforce the message I want to communicate to whoever sees my work.
Final result: Mathcore
After finishing the Illustrator stage, my photo-illustration is almost ready, now it’s time to go back to Photoshop and make some color adjustments, then I add some extra details that will give the final touch to my photo-illustration.
The power and style that Michel manages to place on each one of his illustration is astonishing, don’t stop visiting his online portfolio at Behance to find more about his work.
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