Photomanips for Beginners, Part I

9 min read

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kuschelirmel's avatar

You've seen photomanips around and would like to try yourself? Or you're just curious as to what this is? In any case, this is the journal to get your answers from!

What is a photomanipulation?

Photomanipulations are images that have been composed of two or more photographic elements to create something new.
This is what the gallery description states. But what does it mean?
  1. It means that a photomanipulation is based on photographs.
    Not sketches scanned in (like line art for example) or screenshots from a video game. However, if you scan a photograph or for example dried flowers, it would be considered a photograph; while a photograph taken of line art still remains a sketch and is not consiered a photograph. Video game screenshots are copyrighted images btw and as such cannot be used at all.
  2. It means that you need to use more than one photograph.
    Retouching work as well as work that uses brushes or texture overlays only to "spice up" a photo that was taken by yourself(!) should be submitted to Photography > Darkroom, while work that uses stock images (i.e. images that you did not take yourself) should be submitted to Digital Art > Miscellaneous. If you combine photo-retouching/photomanipulating with painting, 3D renders (you created yourself), fractals (also created by you) and/or vectors/vexels (again: created by you) you could also put your work into the Digital Art > Mixed Media category.

A note on the categories:
Whenever I say that this or that should go into a different category than photomanipulation, it's merely a suggestion to help you put your art where others may go looking for it. Also, my opinion of categorizing is that only the artist can possibly know what they did and how they did it to arrive at the end product, so the artist is the only one who can really judge where their art belongs. I'm just here to help you with that by pointing out how deviantArt categories are defined. You can always note me if you're unsure about anything!

What do I need?

You'll need two things to get you started: software & photos.
  1. Software: :new:
    Many photomanipulators use Adobe Photoshop or the less expensive Photoshop Elements. Also often in use is Corel PaintShop Pro and as freeware GIMP1). If you want to create real manipulations (not just enhance some images) I recommend choosing a programme which is capable of using layers, so it lets you "stack" photos over each other like when doing a traditional collage. This way, you can move the individual images around sepearately.
  2. Photos:
    • You can either take them yourself or
    • you can use stock images.
    The first option obviously means you'll need a camera (not a webcam and probably not a phone either) while the second option means you'll have to respect other people's rules about what you can or can't do with their photos [more below].

1) Personally, I have only experience in Adobe Photoshop, so I don't know what the others can or can't do. You'll have to follow the links to get an overview over what they do and maybe they can be downloaded as trial versions, so you can get to know the programme before spending the money. Also, if there are programmes missing from the list, please tell me!

Stock Images

If you don't have a camera or simply cannot find the subject you need for your manip so you can take a picture of it, there are plenty of places where you can find images for you to use. But you can't use just anything you find on the internet! The golden rule here is  "anything is copyrighted (and thus off limits) until I am explicitly told otherwise by someone who can actually do so".
The only person who can tell you that "it's okay to use this in a manip" is the copyright holder (usually the photographer, sometimes also publishing companies, etc) and not some forum admin who thinks just beause he cut out Angelina Jolies head she's now his to give away.

This is where the so-called Stock Images come in:

For those kinds of images, the Terms of Use (ToS) (also called "Rules for stock usage" or similar) are written somewhere you can easily find them and check what you can and cannot do with the images you just discovered - usually without having to ask first (that's what the ToS are for).
You need to check the Tos before you use the images so you can avoid stepping on someone's toes. For example, ToS may include restrictions on where you can use the images (often seen with dA stockers is "only for dA use") or for what purpose you can use them (commercial or non-commercial, on dA also "non-commercial, but ok for dA prints") etc. They will also tell you what you need to do to be able to use the stock (pay a fee, be a member of the site, link back, credit,...).

If you do not comply with the ToS, you are breaking copyright law.
So, if it says that you need to link back to the stock site and/or the stock artist, you need to do that.
No "forgetting", no procrastinating ("credits coming soon" is NOT valid credit - if you have the time to upload, you'll need to make time to put proper credits as well. Anything else is unfair towards those who let you use their stock and who can only be found by others if you credit them from the start.). Give credit where credit is due! And do not create the impression that you took all pictures yourself by leaving out credit, this is not what this community stands for!

This is also why I urge you to write in your description something like "all photography by me" if that was the case to set an example for everyone here - especially the newcomers or younger viewers will do more as they see than as they (may) read.

So where do I find those stock images?

Here's a short list to get you started:
  • Stock Art Gallery on deviantArt - here it is really important that you find the individual stock provider's rules. They are usually located in the journal, most of the times on the userpage, sometimes on the individual pictures in the artist's comment. Be sure to credit and notify the stocker once you have used their image. Some need to be asked for commercial use outside of dA, some for commercial use in general.
  • - you will have to register, but it's free and gives you access to almost all images on the site (sometimes photographers want to know beforehand where their pic is going to be used, in that case instead of the full view, a contact form will show). Be careful to remember if the images were tagged with special licenses. They may require you to credit the photographer by name and/or notify him on top of the usual link to as credit.
  • is similar to, offering royalty free images free of charge.
  • offers different licenses that can be purchased for credits (you pay x amount of dollars to get y amount of credits), just be sure to read them carefully and pick the one you need
  • offers images that you need to pay for as well as a free stock section. Stock downloaded there is limited in its use, but at a maximum of 10.000 copies sold that contain that work it is still a fair offer. Be sure to read the Terms of Use here especially as I have not previously used their services myself and cannot speak from experience.
If you know any more sites, I'd love to take a look and add them to the list

If you find this journal is lacking some great links please tell me so I can include them :heart:

:pointr: on to Part II :aww:

Journal Stock Credits: Kaotiksymphony-Stock and iMouritsa.
© 2010 - 2021 kuschelirmel
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Eijaite's avatar
Thank you, this clarified a lot -- was wondering if adding texture(s) to a photo makes it photomanipulation. I didn't think it did, and am glad you also had good suggestions about the gallery one might use for edited photography. :bow: :blowkiss:
Lou-in-Canada's avatar
hey, this is good stuffs this, photomanips for beginners. I not only enjoyed that read, I learn stuff as well :giggle: Thank you so much! Not much time today, but I added you to my :ninja: so I can come back and learn some more when i have more time! :w00t:
I'd LOVE to try this. Bit scared of downloading program to my puter though. Since I can't buy one, thinking of dowloading GIMP. Not a CLUE how to work it though, guess I'm going to have to just find out when i've got it!
SBG-CrewStock's avatar
Awesome post! It was very well thought out and extremely informative. I enjoyed it thoroughly! Thank you. :)

I'm not sure what type of tutorials you are looking for, however, I made an easy - to - follow extraction tutorial video. [link]
phoenixleo's avatar
because we aren't all bound to dA are we? o_O
phoenixleo's avatar
I have confusion with the only dA use or don't post anywhere one. When I use stock resources, I also post them in my facebook account so my friends may see them. As well as sometimes when I remember to update the dA portfolio, or in Redbubble sometimes, giving a link to the dA's actual deviation and the stock credits with the names there (like username1 in dA, username2 in dA). So I can't use the work I submitted to places I have accounts and in facebook? o___O One allows, while say a grass image stock doesn't. Then what do I do? :P
kuschelirmel's avatar
if the stockers says "no use outside of dA" then that means exactly that: no reposting elsewhere (I don't think dA portfolio is "elsewhere"). You can always ask for permission or ask them if that applies to all kinds of posting outside (some just don't want their stock used on ponybox for example but are fine with facebook etc). If you want to save yourself the trouble, you check before you use and just don't use the stock where the stocker has specified "no use outside of dA".
phoenixleo's avatar
/me has gone and sent notes about them! :la:
phoenixleo's avatar
gotcha! i don't know what ponybox is :lol:
I will go check mine again :nod: Thanks :)
IreneLangholm's avatar
:thumbsup: This should be a News article.
kuschelirmel's avatar
I was looking for my older articles before writing this (there must be one introducing the digital mixed category for example) but I could find none of the old ones... So I put it in a journal instead, for now at least. When I've got a few of these together (and maybe a better css for it too) I'll probably write a news article linking to all with the most important info... or something like that ^^; I liked yours with a bit of text and a few links in them so people could read up on whichever aspect they needed.
IreneLangholm's avatar
Awesome! Yeah, unfortunately you can't put images in News articles. But you can always to a direct-link article to make more people see your journal. :D

kuschelirmel's avatar
I could've sworn it was a news article of yours that I liked so much not only for its content but also for it's short to the point paragraphs with links to more... and now I'll be damned if I can find it :o so typical :lmao:

but still :hug:

and I will do a news thingy at some point to link to these to get more exposure (well, not "these" yet, but soonish - as soon as that darn real life lets me; thank god there's weekends ;))
IreneLangholm's avatar
Looking forward to it!

Hm.. Was it one of these?
'Digital artists and stock: do you play nice?' [link]
or perhaps the ABC article? [link]

I have links in the side menu of my journal if you'd like to find it. :D

kuschelirmel's avatar
I thought I'd found it through the side menu, but now I'm lost -- it was none of those two, but oh well, maybe I'm seeing things in my mind :giggle: those are close to what I think I remember anyway :nod:
IreneLangholm's avatar
I have a few articles like that. Should be in the side menu if it was me.
Cheers, hon! :D
IreneLangholm's avatar
:thumbsup: This should be a News article.
Renilicious's avatar
Aegils's avatar
I wrote something similar back in 2008 in a news article. Just in case here it is [link]
Even though you still see a lot of celeb or google pictures used, I'm glad people's mindset about manips is changing since then. Education is the way! :nod:
kuschelirmel's avatar
I hadn't seen your article, it's a great one. thanks for ponting it out :heart:

and yay for education :nod:
BeehiveStudio's avatar
this is so amazing!!! I was wondering if I could make of this an article in #dArtzine I would credit you of course!!! :kiss: and give a link to this blog if you want!
kuschelirmel's avatar
sounds great - go ahead :aww:
just be sure before the zine goes life to check one last time if something here was updated (especially the programmes and the stock sites) :kiss:
miskis's avatar
go Jasmin go!! heh :D
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