The Peacock feather dress

January 30, 2015  •  1 Comment

Not long ago a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog that inspired me. She had a quick little note stating that she thought I might like this guys work.

Like it???? I LOVED it!!! I watched the video and read it over and over  thinking of how creative it was. Well of course I wanted to try this as I love compositing in Photoshop and I love pretty and unusual dresses. Clearly I didn't want to try and copy his design but I wanted to do my own take on it. I thought about it and decided I wanted to do a feather dress. In retrospect, I don't know what I  was thinking because selecting feathers is NOT fun but I wanted to do feathers. First problem, I didn't have any feathers and really didn't want to spend a slew of money on something that I would use once. I really wanted peacock but a quick search on Amazon told me that they would be expensive. So I decided to reach out to my neighbors and see if anyone had some I could borrow. Our neighborhood has a forum and I posted that I was looking for feathers for a shoot. Next thing I knew one neighbor wrote that she had some peacock feathers that I could use and another had a peacock fan. I was in shock!!! Exactly what I needed and within a few blocks of the house. Now I needed a model. I had a studio shoot coming up in a few days and knew that my model probably didn't want to shoot the whole two hours (more on that shoot later) so I texted Sasha. Sasha is the ultimate professional and she's always up for something fun. She was in!!! Next I got Catalina and Esmarelda to come and assist and the shoot was ready to go.

Step one, figure out a good pose  for the model. My original idea was to put her in the woods with a tribal look. Sara did the makeup and gave her a beautiful look. Here's a closeup of her face


We found a pose that I thought would look cool and came up with this one


Next, start working the feathers. We took about 50 shots with the feathers in various configurations because I just wasn't sure what I would need later. It would be near impossible to reshoot feathers and match up the lighting so I just shot as many as I could.

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Next step is 4 hours in Photoshop while I copy, paste, mask, adjust, transform, stamp and tone to make a dress out of this.


The first version I put her in the woods but I didn't feel like there was enough contrast. So I decided instead that I would put her someplace elegant and dramatic. I had some images of the National Portrait Gallery and decided that the museum would be perfect. I even changed a painting to reflect a peacock. I like this version because it's elegant and Sasha really stands out. Here is the finished image after about 6 hours in Photoshop



I really enjoy compositing because it allows me to create images that I could not create otherwise. This type of digital art is useful for a lot of portraiture because of it's flexibility. For example if you want to shoot in a specific location that is hard to get to, or it's the middle of winter and you want greenery, or you need to shoot on a certain day and can't cancel for weather. With compositing, none of that is an issue. I do have to plan some elements of the image, the lighting has to match. 


Barbara Hallman(non-registered)
Hi Alicyn. This is really cool. Love the rich greens in the dress; nicely done. I am a pressed flower artist. Maybe someday we can work together to create a masterpiece. I have 1000's of pressed flowers. Would be fun to create a dress with some of them, or other magical things. Barbara
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