You know the Birth of Venus, right? That gorgeous Botticelli masterpiece depicting Venus emerging from the sea to ride to the shore on a shell, blown by the zephyrs and clothed in finery? I was lucky enough to see it in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence quite a few years ago and it left a lasting impression. Botticelli, you have a future in art, I think! Don't let them tell you otherwise!
Well, I'm between pet shoots right now, just working on some corporate and acting headshots, and I got to missing my animals. I thought of lovely Luna, the border collie mix I adore and who has been the subject of so many of my practice composites. Now I won an award for the photo I was thinking of so Luna had done her work already. But any animal I photograph against a solid backdrop becomes a candidate for a composite. Plus, I always composite her. I thought she was a great subject for a play on the Birth of Venus. But this time she wouldn't be alone, I needed three more animals.
I found one of the zephyrs from the same photo shoot I photographed Luna. The other zephyr came from a session I photographed five Savannahs and four dogs, one a pittie puppy. The clothier on shore is one of those Savannahs from that session and is featured in my composite Savannah Fight Club. Being on her hind legs was perfect for this composite and the icing on the cake was the position of her arms and paws. Once I found everything, it was a go.
I'll tell ya, this was one of the hardest composites I've ever put together. I found the beautiful ocean very easily. I have a couple of sets of perfect clouds I've been using in a lot of my composites lately. I thought the shoreline wouldn't be impossible. But au contraire, that proved to be my undoing. I couldn't find that specific look parallel to the waterline. I tried making it but in the end I just decided to give up that piece. There were plenty of flowing fabrics to be found for the zephyrs but for the raiment? Nope. That was literally the only patterned piece I could find that was the whole cloth and was in motion. You would think there would be more in the stock world...
The shell wasn't easy, either. I found a few clam and scallop shells as objects but couldn't get them just right. I bought some cooking scallop shells to photograph myself but in the end I used an object. I may go back and shoot the shell but for now, it's okay. The trees, cattails, flowers and plants were also all objects. I couldn't find exact matches but I did the best I could. The banks are from different stock images I pieced together.
Once you get the big items down, you have to go in create the details that sell it. Tone, shadows, lighting, all of that. The devil is definitely in those details. I have been using new -- to me -- techniques, which is one of the reasons I do these for myself. I get better at each one and teach myself new digital art techniques in the process.
It took the better part of three days to create this. Definitely a labor to birth this Venus. So I present to you the Birth of Luna, the reference painting, and just a snippet of the composite process so you can see what a great leap forward is made to the completed image. And ultimately, it's another example of a way you can tell your pet's story.