The Spell is one of the more ambitious projects I decided to undertake in 2015. Production of the set in CGI began way back in mid 2014 and I spent many weekends sitting in front of the computer, modeling and texturing the set pieces.
The story behind The Spell is about a young girl who discovers an old Victorian style room. Within the room she finds a bookshelf full of old fairy tales and proceeds to read one of them. Little did she know, she unleashed an old spell which brought plants to life and the plants start consuming the room that she's in.
By luck, I managed to pull together an amazing crew for this shoot, all pretty much last minute except for the model Hanna Marie, who was on board since the conception of this image idea.
Model: Hanna Marie Yeadon
Wardrobe: Viviana Pannell
Makeup: Kenneth Dang
Hair: Cindy Rue
Photo of the team: (Left to Right) Viviana Pannell, Cindy Rue, Hanna Marie Yeadon, Mark Soon. Image credit: Stine Jensen Photography
The dress was particularly important for this shoot. I wanted a white Victorian style dress that would go well with the set, and I drew up an initial design that would have the dress spread out like a flower petal, to further compliment the theme. I then approached dress designer, Viviana Pannell from Basquesse who converted one of her wedding dresses into a wardrobe piece for the shot. I later decided that the dress would be better laid flat (instead of fluffed up) so that it wouldn't obscure the important details behind the model.
The CGI Building Part
I have always wanted to do a photography shoot in a classy Victorian style setting but being here in Sydney, Australia, there isn't much available in terms of cool-looking photography locations. So I had no choice but to build my own set using computer generated imagery (otherwise known as 3D graphics), utilising mainly Modo 3D and Allegorithmic's Substance Painter.
This was by far the most consuming stage of the image and here is where I spent about 80% of my time, and it is the longest project I've ever worked on (approximately 5 months).
I went through so many iterations of the room before I was content with the final version. Below are some images I've put together so you can see the different elements that went into the final image.
The entire room and its contents were built by myself, by hand. Each and every single one. I have highlighted below a few of the hero elements that play a big part in the storytelling process.
The Photo Shoot
The photo shoot itself was the easiest part of the whole project. The model was composed on a white sweep paper backdrop, and once I had camera matched the shot to the background using Capture One Pro 8 (in tethered mode), shooting only took about 10 minutes as I already knew what I was after in terms of the character's pose.
Photoshop Layers & Compositing
I had over 80 layers happening in Photoshop at one stage, and due to the software getting sluggish, I had to keep merging groups as I worked. Here are some shots of the composite.
And here is the final version. Click on the image to see a larger version.