UP Inspired: New Picture PLUS Behind the Scenes

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: April 19, 2016

Category: Photography

For this post I want to share a new picture with you but also give you an idea of the behind the scenes showing how it was photographed.

This new picture was 100% inspired by the Pixar Movie ‘UP’ but also because my buddy Dave Clayton had always wanted a picture doing of him as the lead character, Carl. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while and maybe even over on social media will know, that I’m always looking for new projects to work on outside of client work. I strongly believe it’s an important thing to do if we’re looking to constantly develop but also, if not more importantly, so that we continue to have fun and enjoy taken photographs and making pictures.

Anyway here’s the final picture we created…


I say ‘we’ because this picture is a collaboration between myself and my dear friend, artist and animator Aaron Blaise. I photographed and retouched Dave and Aaron shared his amazing talent and drew the scene/background.

As for the photography/lighting, I’d looked at so many pictures from the movie I felt the best way to get the look I was after was to use three lights; two Elinchrom ELC 1000’s in Elinchrom 130cm x 50cm Rotalux Strip Boxes and one from the front overhead, an Elinchrom ELC 1000 into Rotalux 135cm Octa, as you can see in the pictures below. I also positioned white poly boards either side of Dave so as to fill in any shadows which is what I was after overall as I would then add shadows in later during post production.


Knowing that I would be cutting Dave out of the background I had him stand in front of the studio wall; the contrast between him and the background made light work of the cutting out as you’ll see in the video below that I shared last week…

Before cutting out though I worked on Dave to transform him into Carl; all done in Photoshop spending time in Liquify to reshape his head. What helped here was having a picture of Carl from the movie open on another screen so I could keep referring back to it.

Changing Dave’s body shape to make him shorter was a combination of selections and blending with layer masks…


I had so much fun transforming Dave’s face…

The nose is his own nose that’s been pushed, pulled and warped; his jowels as you can see below were made by making two copies of his mouth, rotating them and the simply blending them in using a layer mask and brush. The bags under his eyes are actually parts of his nose that have been blended in and then dodging/burning to darken them down. Dave’s eyes were moved closer together, angled and made slightly larger and then his hair was turned grey using a hue/saturation adjustment layer and any gaps that weren’t picked up so well were fixed using a couple of Photoshop brushes created by Aaron (and available on his site at creatureartteacher.com)


Adding depth, dimension and texture to Dave’s face was achieved using a couple of plug ins from Topaz, namely Clarity and Details. The effect was applied overall, hidden behind a layer mask and then painted back but only to appear on his face. The texture that these two give together is superb!


I’ll be putting together a thorough write up of this shoot explaining much more of the behind the scenes, but also all going through the retouching from start to finish in my new book ‘Photograph Like a Thief’ being published by Rocky Nook, which I’m now busy writing, so I’ll keep you posted with more news of that as and when.

HUGE thanks to Dave for being such a great sport, to Aaron for teaming up and working on this project with me and also to our friend Chris Fields for helping out on the day and grabbing the behind the scenes pictures; we had such a laugh.


Hope you found this post useful but also I hope it, in some way, inspires to you just get out there and do something just for the fun of it. So often we’re focused on creating the next best picture, adding the next picture to the portfolio, so why not just get out there and create something purely for the fun of it…you’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn…as is definitely the case for me here having done this UP inspired picture.


CLICK HERE to check out the LARGE version of the final picture 🙂

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  1. Anthony Crothers

    Excellent blog mate, great final image (still funny as heck!) and behind the scenes of the set up. Looking forward to the new book.
    Absolutely, photography should be fun. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning, but I’m enjoying the journey! Your thoughts have given me several ideas, so all in all very inspirational Mr D.
    Thanks a million for sharing once again.

    • Glyn Dewis

      Can’t wait to see what the ideas you’ve got are mate. Glad you liked the blog post 😉


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