Digital Image and Culture Assignment One Combind Image

A1 Rework

Assignment one Rework

In our feedback session Andrea did not recomend any rework so the initial submission is the final submission

Initial Submission

Orignial Artist Images

Traditional Collage – My Homage

Orignial Artist Images

Digital Manipulation – My Homage


Assignment 1 was an opportunity to explore the wilder side of photography and digital art. For me, this is the best part of my degree so far. I had so much fun exploring this subject as it has always been dear to my heart.

The premise of this assignment was to produce eight works of art four in the collage/dada style and four using digital manipulation.

I did a lot of research and took quite a deep dive into the practitioners of these techniques, some of whom were already favourites of mine others were new to me. I think it was the work of Derek Galon that sparked the idea in me. I first came across him when he was awarded the FRPS and was featured in the RPS magazine. Dereks FRPS panel was a series of images made as an Homage to Bower and the other Dutch masters. In his work, I found images that were obviously photographs but looked like oil paintings. I mentioned this in one of my early level 1 modules and was inspired by Derek. I spent the time between then and now working out how he achieved the look he did. The idea of a work being an hommage and not a copy appealed to me. I had the idea of creating my eight images as a homage to another artist. I settled on Boris Valejo who has been one of my favourite artists sing the 70’s.

I settled on creating four works in a traditional cut stick and paste style reminiscent of the Dada artists and of Hannah Hock whos exhibition I visited in London a few years ago. For the other four works, I would use more modern digital methods of compositing.

For both sets of images, the source inspiration was to be Boris Vallejo. I went through my archive of collected images of Boris Vallejo and found about ten that were possible candidates.


The first job was to make a collage that was a homage to each of the four selected works. I was to use only found images for this project. The four images from Boris Vallejo selected were “The tree of Woe”, “Lee” from the “1994 Boris Vallejo Mythology Calendar.”, “standing tall”, I also wanted to attempt to draw a dragon this way, so I ended up selecting “Shimmer Dragon by Alex Chen,” another fantastic fantasy artist.

I found the work of collage a lot of fun; it was a bit like going back to school. The results were fun but frustrating because using found images. It was hard to get exactly what I was l; looking for. I started to exaggerate things a bit in the same way as the Hanah Hock work I mad the crucified Conan out of lots of parts that I cut out I even articulated the arms and legs to make it work. The end result feels a bit like one of those kidnap ransom notes you see in movies, but overall I was happy with the results.

I was most happy with standing tall as I felt the end result reflected the image it was a homage to though it looks like a picture not a work of Dadaism. I was very please with the dragon as it took some imagination to find images that could be spliced to make a dragon though it is a horse bat lizard in reality. I felt the tree of woe was the closest to the type of collage some of the practitioners I investigated produces Lee was my least favourite as I struggled to get a beetle for him to ride.


My imagination was allowed free rein here. I wanted to continue with the theme of Boris Vallejo again, so I selected three images, one of which was a collaboration between him and his wife, Julie Bell.

My methodology was to create images in style using the theme from the original without actually copying it. I decided I would create my figures in DAZ3d Studio and render them as png files to drop into the composition.

I also just discovered the face transfer facility in DAZ, so I added a photography component by getting a model to stand in for me and have a headshot taken to add to the composition.

Each of the characters in my images is sporting the face of someone I know and photographed. The models used were me, My eldest Daughter Claire, My youngest daughter Laura and my friend’s fiance Angela.

Lastly, I used a combination of 3D rendered objects and digitally hand-painted scenes to create the backdrops for the images.

Digital Composition

For Part 2 of the assignment I have to create images using digital methods, so I decided to do some research into artists working in this space I included some of my favourites such as Brooke Shaden and I also found a lot more this was something of an enlightening exercise. Here is my list:

  • Brooke Shaden
  • Jason Hahn
  • Brandon Cawood
  • Adrian Sommerling
  • Michael Herb
  • Erik Johansson
  • Dave Hill
  • Erik Almas
  • Josh Rossi
  • Tim Tadder
  • Ben Shirk
  • Antti Karppinen

Next, I looked at each artist to help understand their methods and ascetic these are listed in no particular order:

Brooke Shaden

Brooke Shaden has been one of my favourite fin art photographers for many years, I wrote earlier about her and my meeting with her, I will not reiterate those things here instead I will talk about her work and how she achieves her goals.

Brook is a digital compositor, and her work involves blending and masking layers to create the image she is aiming for, she tends to shoot a location as a base for the image and will shoot images of a model (usually herself) in different poses and mask and blend these into the main scene. Brooke also uses blocks of colour and texture and blends those over the image to get the right feel and colour tone she will often do this multiple times with different colours and textures to achieve the final result.

Jason Hahn

Jason Hahn is a photographer and digital artist living in Pheonix, Arizona. His work consists of combining layers and again masking blending and colour grading. His images have a painterly feel though are mostly photographic images. Jason uses a combination of stock and own photographs due to life and time pressures that prevent him from doing as many photoshoots as he would like. He also says that as he is somewhat stuck in Arizona, he finds it hard to shoot some of the background images he needs to create some of his work.

Jason’s work has exactly the feel I am looking for and some of his work is edging towards the kind of fantasy I am looking to create.

Brandon Cawood

Brandon Cawood is another digital composite artist who creates work that is somewhere between the hyper-real and surreal styles he says he likes his composites to have a polished commercial look while remaining believable.

He likes to take elements from different images and pull them together to create a story, and he pays particular attention to perspective and lighting to ensure that the parts combine believably. Brandon says that because the human eye is so cleaver even the slightest misalignment of perspective and light can throw an image off.

Brandon shoots almost all of his own digital assets except for a few textures, working commercially for clients means that he has to do this as his clients are looking for his unique eye on a subject, it also makes IPR and licencing simpler.

He states that his method is to clip the digital assets before masking so that he is only dealing with the parts of the assets that he wants to use he feels it is cleaner than masking out vast areas.

Adrian Sommerling

Adrien Sommeling is a photographer and digital artist, graphic designer and web developer from the Netherlands. He creates fantastical composites in a realistic but painterly style. He often uses himself and his son in his composites I think he also shoots his own digital assets but I have been unable to verify that fact.

His inspiration is derived from newspaper articles and conversations with his son, who inspired the pyramids shot shown here by asking who built the pyramids.

His work is a definite inspiration to my quest for practitioners to inform my work his images are very clever as they use a sense of humour to answer the strange questions that pop up in life. They enable Adrien to explore questions such as what would it be like to fly on a drone or what would a medieval selfie look like. Adrien uses his wit and humour to answer these questions in fantastical images.

His work shows a perfect appreciation of light and composition that make his composites look real and his treatment of the images give them a professional painterly feel. I have just discovered Adrien’s work and I am already a fan.

Michael Herb

Michael Herb is a Las Vegas-based photographer who shoots his own digital assets in relatively big productions. There is an insight into his work on youtube This is a film shot while he was making the desert warriors series in the Nevada desert, it is also a product review for the Westcott Zeppelin which is a huge 56inch parabolic softbox that costs almost a thousand pounds. I don’t think I will be investing in one of those without sponsorship, though it was a great performer in the desert.

Michael creates very painterly composites that have the very commercial professional feel that many of the best composite artists are achieving Michael is no exception his work is beautiful and he creates a perfect atmosphere that I completely aspire too

Erik Johansson

Erik Johansson Is a Swedish digital photographer born in 1985 living and working in the Czech Republic. His work is surreal and created by blending different digital assets. Much of his work has the painterly feel that is common in the digital artists that I have been viewing I have been referring to it as a commercial or professional feel that is hard to put your finger on but once mastered exactly seems to elevate the work of the artist beyond the average amateur.

Erik Johansson is making precisely the style of work I admire though I have no desire to duplicate his work. I would love my work to have a similar feel.

As I am working my way through these selected artists I am starting to see something at the core of all their work that I want firmly at the heart of my own, I am struggling to put my finger on what it is and find myself currently unable to articulate it but I feel like I am starting to circulate the problem and draw closer to its identification and hopefully adoption. I am finding this module to be an excellent vehicle for refining and identifying the voice that I have been aware of but has been just out of my reach for some time now. This is an exciting journey for me.

Dave Hill

Dave Hill is based quite close to me in West Sussex he works mainly for the British national press and magazines. His images are very high impact some call his style HDR, but I do not feel that an HDR treatment is the whole story of his work.

His work consists of digital manipulations and layering quite a bit of sharpening and that feel of grunge that does indeed come with high structure often associated with HDR.

I think that high structure is more the key to Dave Hills work than HDR, which is a highly overused term in photography for anything a little gritty.

Erik Almas

Erik Almas is a Surreal photographer artist. His work has a high degree of realism thought the subject is often fantastical or improbable. He uses digital layering masking and blending to create the fantastic in his images.

I have spent a long time trying to identify that quality that makes a lot of these images look painterly or highly structured, Erik does not do this in the same way his images often look very real even though you know the girl can’t be holding up a train etc.

Having said that when you look through the composites on his web site, you soon realise there is something about their treatment that gives them that professional polish.

Josh Rossi

Josh Rossi has secret sauce in barrels I find his work inspiring, partly because he tackles subjects I find close to my heart but also because he is doing work, I would love to call my making. His work is gritty and painterly and beautifully constructed.

On instagram, he goes by the handle of Photoshop Dad and you can quickly tell why his kids must be popular at school as he kits them out in various superhero costumes and adds his usual polish to them.

Josh Rossi has a style that comes out even in relatively normal images of people. His treatment of the image has a voice and style that quickly identifies it as his own. I am somewhat in awe of his work.

Tim Tadder

Tim Tadda Has an extensive portfolio and has clearly been experimenting with his art for a long time. Some of his work fits more into my study than other parts. He is a talented photographer and his series Tecate Zodiac I find particularly inspiring and in keeping with this study.

Again Tim has a way of treating his images that again, give them his personal stamp, and like others, I can best describe them as professional. I realise that all of these artists I describe as having a professional touch and a dash of secret sauce, the realisation is that the secret sauce is not the same in each case thus it is slightly harder to identify but makes having a unique style more viable.

Ben Shirk

Ben is known for his photoshop templates that he sells to other photographers. He has made a name for himself creating composites based on sports memorabilia images. He creates images of people that demonstrate their sporting passion and can be placed in a house or bedroom as a keepsake.

Ben translated this talent into a series of reusable templates that enable other photographers to create similar images with their own photographs.

Ben is a master of the green screen and has created several training videos on extraction using a green and blue screen as well as marketing green and blue screen extraction actions for photoshop.

Antti Karppinen

Antti Karppinen is a Finnish photographer and artist who teache his way of working until recently his training has been all in Finnish, but he has now started teaching in English which should see his work become more popular as the man is a genius.

His work is again filled with secret sauce and embodies everything I am trying to achieve in my own work.

Antti Karppinen is a photographer and artist I certainly admire and aspire after.

As you can tell from this post, there is a lot out there that makes up the genera of imagery that I am keen to create and I am as a direct result of this course getting closer to my goal and a deeper understanding of my work and my voice, I am at last starting to make work that I am proud of and that fits into my desire to make art..

DADA and Collage and Photomontage

Artists who specalise in collage

I looked up this phrase on google as a starting point and it gave me some familiar names like Hannah Höch and Man Ray, I fount a list that the online art magazine AnOther classified as the top 10 collage artists which looked like a great place to start researching practitioners. The list was as follows:

  • Hannah Höch
  • Kurt Schwitters
  • Raoul Hausmann
  • Man Ray
  • Eileen Agar
  • Joseph Cornell
  • Nancy Spero
  • John Stezaker
  • Jesse Treece
  • Annegret Soltau

I was fortunate to visit the Hannah Höch exhibition in the Whitechapel Gallery in 2014 with some friends from the TV Group at the time one of the other members wanted to see it as it was relevant to a level 1 module he was doing at the time, little did I realise how useful that first hand experience would be in 2020 six years later.

Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch was a practitioner of Dadaism during the Weimar Republic and on into the early twentieth century. Her work challenges the racist and sexist codes upholding Weimar Germany and she continued to challenge the place marginalised women in twentieth-century Germany.

I remember the work at the Whitehall gallery being quite hard-hitting with black people being portrayed as gorillas, at the time I did not understand her work and found those images to be disturbing as they would have been entirely unacceptable today. On reading a bit more on her, I discovered that she was an outspoken critic of these kinds of attitudes and that her work was more aimed at taking down an establishment that fostered inequality.

On a practical note, her style of collage is technically quite viable for what I have in mind, although I think the feminist in her would shudder at the fantasy genera supported by Boris Vallejo the idea of mixing the two ideologies in a piece of work amuses the mischevious side of me that as a man reacts badly to the more hard-line and radical side of feminism that seeks to turn the tables through 180 degrees rather than level the playing field which I totally support.

Hannah Höch’s method does, however, require some study as it does fit the idea if not the ideology, Throughout her work she finds images and cuts the relevant parts to combine and create a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. I am envisioning the idea for creating a fantasy image using a similar technique. I need to look at the work of the other ten artists in the list to see how they stack up to this idea.

Kurt Schwitters

Unlike the other Dadaists Kurt Schwitters was not based in Berlin, he worked in Hanover and was exiled from Germany by the Nazis and went to live and work in the Lake District.

His work incorporated lots of different materials using a concept called Merz “The combination of all conceivable materials” this style of collage is exciting but is not really in keeping with the ideas I have for the assignment as the result ends up looking a little too surreal for the fantasy genera though the idea of making a dragon from cogs and buttons and bits and pieces does appeal to me as it is very steampunk in concept and that is another area I enjoy.


Raoul Hausmann

Raoul Hausmann was a close friend of Hugo Bail one of the founders of Dada and became part of the nucleus of the Berlin Dada movement. He produced many collage style artworks and also produced three-dimensional mechanical versions of his work, his mechanical head is one of the only surviving assemblages that he created.

By 1920 Hausman published two books o Dadaism and implied that Dada was at its end he became friends with Schwitters and started moving towards International Modernism.

He was also a photographer and some of his work includes photomontages of his images which makes him an interesting source for my work.


Man Ray

It is stated that Man Ray was informally related to Dada and Surrealist movements he was an American Avant-gard artist. He was a practitioner of photomontage and multiple exposures his work is something to study when looking at my approach to this assignment.

Man Rays work extended both to the idea of collage, and the darkroom and multiple exposures work so he spanned many of the ideas that could be incorporated into this assignment. He once said, “My works were designed to amuse, annoy, bewilder, mystify and inspire reflection.” This is undoubtedly true and though by modern standards his work is crude it was cutting edge in the day.


Eileen Agar

Eileen Agar was born in 1899 in Argentina she died in November of 1991 in England, she had a Scottish father and an American mother. She played a significant part in spreading the Surrealist movement into Britain in the 1930s.

Her works are social critiques with a dash of humour and irony, and she was the only British Woman t be part of the London Surrealist Exhibition in 1936. In 1937 she spent time with Picasso and Man Ray and ended up having an affair with Paul Nash.

She loved to explore the seashore and collect objects to inspire her work which was often created in the form of a collage she believed that our thoughts could change direction and that we could think about more than one thing at a time giving rise to her style of painting.

I am starting to feel like each of these artists is pointing me in the same direction and that there is something of a law of diminishing returns looking at all of them, but I persevere.

Joseph Cornell

Joseph Cornell took collage in a different direction creating pioneering work n assemblage. He lived in New York and collected material from the book shops and antique shops of manhattan which he is famous for turning into intricate wooden boxes filled with all the items he found.

His style was quite different and more three dimensional it reminds me of some of the curious frames now available in artsy shops with items in a deep frame though they seem somewhat trivial compared to the original and groundbreaking work of Joseph Cornell. Searching for images of his work reveals that he prolifically produced artworks and there are a lot of examples of his work.

His style is exciting and makes me wonder if it would be possible to create a diorama in the fantasy style of Boris Vallejo it is something to think about while I study these artists before getting down to produce my work.


Nancy Spero

Nancy Spero was an artist who was concerned with political, social and cultural issues throughout her career as an artist. She was an activist and one of the early feminists, and her compositions were open-ended thought-provoking and ruthlessly uncomfortable in their subject matter, often in the form of a scroll or freeze. She used several techniques, including collage and what appears to be some kind of stamping or block printing.


John Stezaker

British artist John Stezaker was mentioned in the course material his work in collage involved combining two images so that they vaguely match each other but in a somewhat surreal way, this work is not the typical college of the Dadaists or the bizarre style of the surrealists. His images are mismatched but they usually form the complete person. He typically used appropriation to gather the images to create his compositions. Each image is created by overlapping two images. In some cases, he would sever the image with a straight razor cut and in others, he would cut around and make a shape or form at the boundary.

His work and style do suggest that it would be a useful method of completing part one of the assignment, and to be fair, he is sighted in the assignment text. Whether or not I pursue his work in the creation of mine remains to be seen.


Jesse Treece

Jesse Treece is a collage artist living in Seattle. He made his first collage when he discovered a box of old magazine clippings his work is very much in the style I imagined when I conceived this idea for the assignment. He has created many images that look like the style of composition I imagine would work with my fantasy images.

Jesse Treece is undoubtedly an artist to consider while planning my work.


Annegret Soltau

Annegret Soltau is an artist whose work is quite startling and jarring her compositions feel like something from a Frankenstein movie. This is quite literal as she joins her collages together by stitching them with black thread, this gives the overwhelming image of Frankenstein’s monster as they are composited heads and faces joined by sewn stitching.

This method has seen some popularity over the years I went to an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s work at the Photographer’s Gallery a few years ago and there were examples of his experiments in stitching images together though none were a macabre as Annegret Soltau which are almost like medical records of the experiments of a mad scientist.

I find the work very interesting its is something I would enjoy experimenting with though I wonder how appropriate it would be for this exercise given my ultimate goal.


Thinking about Assignment 1

The Discovery of Fantasy

Fantasy has been a passion of mine since I was about 12 years old. My introduction to the genre was by a humanities teacher who was standing in for our English teacher who was ill at the time. As is the usual practice when a teacher takes over for a lesson, he gave us something to do to fill the 2-hour lesson. In this case, it was to read a comprehension and finish the story, and this turned out to be a passage from a book I had not heard of called Lord of the Rings. I came home quite taken by the short fragment of the story and wanting to learn how it ended. I assumed it was a small paperback similar to the books I was reading at that time, so I asked my Mum to buy it for me, when she bought it home it was three rather large volumes.

To cut a long story short, I got engrossed in the story and could not put it down, I also had a rather nasty boil on my eardrum about halfway through and was in bed in the early hours of the morning in agony, my father sitting with me said don’t try to sleep just read when you get tired you will fall asleep. That trick worked so well the book became something very special in my life and on finishing it, I found myself craving more books in the genera. In the span of my life, I have devoured every fantasy book I could find and am more of a fan now than ever, I have read Lord of the rings over 25 times so far.

The Discovery of Boris Vallejo

I first discovered the art of Boris Vallejo in the late ’90s when I was looking for pocket watches for a magic stage act I was developing. I found a fantasy styled pocket watch that was selling for rather a lot of money and it claimed to be the art of Boris Vallejo, and this led me to investigate the name and a 30-year love for his art.

Boris is responsible for the artwork on all of the Conan and Gor books of the ’70s and ’80s he was born in Lima, in Peru and now lives and works in Pennsylvania with his wife, Julie Bell.

My love of the fantasy Gernera in fiction led me to love fantasy art, and I remember as a child seeing the pictures of floating islands in the air and all the covers of the books I was so keen to read. Boris Vallejo hit the spot for me as he was on som many of those covers and was such an inspiring artist, the idea of dragons and sword and sorcery was what took my imagination on wid rides.

For as long as I have been into photography I have been excited by manipulated images, we tried to do this in the late ‘70s and ‘80s when I was learning the darkroom but it was so difficult to make believable art. I have been keen on drawing and painting alongside my photography but have never had the talent for that as I had for photography, this is changing now with the ability to create art in photoshop and 3D model in DAZ 3D studio.

Now I am finding talent for drawing on the screen and creating digital art.

I have gathered a lot of Boris Vallejo images on my pinterest board as copyright would preclude me displaying a large body of work here:

Stephen Barney Pinterest – Boris Vallejo

Linking Fantasy DADA etc to Assignment One

I have spent some time looking at assignment one and thinking about how I might attempt it — the brief calls for two sets of around four images. The first four done in a traditional cut and paste collage style with found images or my images, then part 2 to make four more images digitally with my original source work.

My thinking is to research some of the Dada practitioners like Hannah Höch and use this influence to create a set of four images which I will base on the style of Boris Vallejo.

In Part 2 I will create original digital art but to make this about photomontage and construction, I will shoot pictures of peoples faces use these in DAZ 3D studio to create posable fantasy figures and beasts then shoot or digitally create the fantasy landscape for them to sit in so that I can create images in the style of Boris Vallejo as a counterpoint to the collage versions.

A1 Combimed Image

Assignment one

Combined Image

Produce either a series of four to six portraits (looking at Stezaker and Stenram) or a series of four to six landscape-based images based on your immediate surroundings (as with Gill’s Hackney Marshes series). Complete Parts 1 and 2 of the assignment and upload the finished images to your learning log together with a short reflection (500–1,000 words) on your motivations, references and methods for both parts of the assignment.

Part 1

Use traditional ‘cut and paste’ techniques (scissors/scalpel and glue) to produce a series of simple photomontages using elements from two to five original or found photographs. These can be found images and/or images that you’ve shot yourself. Re-photograph your finished photomontages and present the work in your learning log as a digital file.

Part 2

Using digital montage techniques (Photoshop or similar image-editing software) produce a digital montage using elements from a minimum of two and a maximum of five digital files. Use components that you have shot yourself rather than found images for this exercise.

Here are some further online resources that you might find useful:

  • Listen to Daniel Gordon discuss his digital portraiture with MOMA curator Eva Respini: Link 12
  • Hisaji Hara: Link 13
  • Hannah Höch: Link 14
  • Peter Kennard’s Photo Op and censorship: Link 15, Link 16
  • Eva Stenram: Link 17, Link 18
  • Jeff Wall: Link 19, Link 20, Link 21
  • Contemporary photographic collage: Link 22 (This link no longer works)
  • FOAM Magazine Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography Issue 38, 2013: Link 23