How to shoot and edit amazing multiplicity portraits

multiplicity portraitsThe idea of a series of clones in one image is one you can have lots of fun with. You could get the different clones to interact with one another or the scenery in playful ways. The basic set-up is this: find a scene or environment for your ‘clones’, shoot a series of poses around the scene, and stitch the images together with simple Photoshop steps. This technique is more about how you shoot the images than how you put them together. The camera needs to stay still, and the exposure must remain constant as you capture the shots.

Look for a scene with plenty of space for your clones to move around. An angle where you have the space to capture some poses in the foreground and others in the distance will help to give depth. Shoot more than you think you’ll need: it can be difficult to judge the positioning until you’ve combined the shots.

How to… Create a multiplicity portrait

Use simple masks to build up the effect of a scene that’s full of clones

  1. Set up your camera
    The lighting and exposure should be consistent for every shot, so set the camera to Manual and take a couple of test shots to work out the exposure. The shutter speed should be at least 1/100 sec – here we settled on 1/250 sec at f/6.3, ISO 320. Focus on the position where the subject will be closest to the camera, then switch to Manual focus so that it doesn’t shift. Take your shots.
  2. Fine-tune the masks
    Carry on adding masks to all but the bottom layer. If there is any overlap between the different poses, like the jutting elbow you can see to the right, you’ll need to zoom in closer and fine-tune the masks. Identify which layer is overlapping, then highlight the layer’s mask thumbnail in the Layers Panel. Grab the Brush tool and paint with black to hide parts of the layer, or white to reveal. Experiment with colour effects to help blend the separate shots into a seamless whole.
  3. Create some cut-outs
    Open all the files in Photoshop and layer them in one document. Grab the Polygonal Lasso tool from the Tools Panel and set Feather to 10px. Click around the figure on the top layer to make a rough selection, then go to Window > Layers and click the Add Layer Mask icon to hide everything else on the layer. Drag the layer below to the top of the stack and repeat.