Image Architect: III

Hello! David Talley here... Welcome to my new Photoshop and image creation series, "Image Architect." We're on episode 3 now! That's 3 weeks so far of Photoshop editing insight that I'm super excited about!

This entire blog series came from the desire to expand upon the 3 secrets to perfect Photoshop videos on my training website. It's such a huge pleasure for me to encourage other artists around the world - something I got to do in full when I taught in 6 countries over 3 months last Autumn. 

I want to capture for my audience an inside look at why and how I create my images to encourage YOU to go out and do the same. I think as a photographer and a teacher, it's important to share what you learn with others and help then as much as you can. Here's to hoping this blog series will help you create better, faster, and more beautifully than ever before. 

Without further ado, let's get right in to what "Image Architect" is all about... Centered around a single image, I.A. is comprised of 4 things (for now...): 

1) The image pre-sketch and notes
2) The mood or emotion I wanted to convey
3) The "Big Tweak" - basically, the main edit I made in Photoshop that had the biggest overall effect on the image
4) A before/ after of the edit of the image

And that's it! For this week's Image Architect, we're going to dismantle "The Apex of Life," an image created last year from a dream I had: 


For "The Apex of Life," I never actually sat down to sketch out my image. This photo is one of the only photos I've ever printed of my work for myself, and that's because it came directly from a dream I had. 

In the dream, I walked in to a cold, dim, basement-like structure. I stood alone in the center of the room and felt a crack reverberate through my back, and almost as if I were experiencing both the 1st and 3rd person views at the same time, I felt and watched as a hole opened up in my back, and a single, innocent blue butterfly crawled and flew out. After the first butterfly, thousands and thousands of butterflies began flying from the hole in my back, swirling and filling the room I was in. 

Surprisingly, although this image was never sketched, it's the one image I've created that looks exactly how I envisioned it. There's more to be said about creating exactly what you want to right when you want to - and during the creation of this image, I found that I don't always need to sketch my images (although they are helpful and I most often do sketch beforehand.) 


For this image, I knew I had to paint a picture of strength combined with peace. The creation of this photo came at a time when I was growing in to an entirely new person, tackling projects that I had never taken on before, and learning how to be who I feel I'm called to be. It was like all of the beauty that was stored up inside of me was finally coming out. 

To capture this concept the way I envisioned it, the photo centered on one thing: my posture. I used 4 different photos, along with detail editing, which I talk about in my 3 secrets to perfect photoshop video series (it's video number 2!). You can watch those videos by clicking here. 

I used a combination of compositing and the liquify tool in order to shape my image to have better posture and reflect my ideas more completely. This helped me maintain that strength you see in the posture, while allowing me to paint delicacy across the foreground with the butterfly. Below, you can see how many different poses I tried in just the span of 30 seconds... but for the final photo, I took 168 different posture shots!


The "big tweak" for "The Apex of Life" is the crux of the photograph, but also a very minor detail. The big tweak for this photo is not the color, texture, or even the butterfly - but as discussed above, it is the POSTURE of the subject, myself, in the image. Without achieving the correct posture for my body and back, I would not have been able to communicate my idea effectively to you, the viewer. 

Posture and body shaping drives 80% of the emotions and thoughts you experience when looking at a photograph. Have you ever seen images of dancers mid-jump? Yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about... but you don't HAVE to be shooting dance photos in order to achieve incredibly well-postured and shaped images. 

I use the liquify tool most of the time to achieve my final result for body posture and shaping in Photoshop, and it has made my photos increase in their beauty and reception by viewers tenfold. I didn't understand the tool or how to use it correctly when I first began editing photos, but after a while, it became a main crux of my editing process, and essential to my photoshop workflow. 

To learn more about what I look out for when I'm doing body shaping, check out my "3 secrets to perfect photoshop" series by clicking here. Here's what the change in posture looks like:


This image came together more beautifully than I ever expected it to because I paid attention to my 3 core Photoshop secrets. I hope this post has been massively insightful for you! 

Do you have an image that you've created that turned out exactly how you envisioned it? Link it to me in the comments below!

- David


I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.