Before and After Forum; Mix Media Wedding Portrait

The Before and After forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

This week for the before and after forum I decided to re-edit a wedding portrait that I took a few years ago, and transform it into a piece of wall art. I wanted to create a mix media style image and used watercolour textures, floral brushes and on layers placed into groups.


I open the image in camera raw and converted it to black and white using the black and white adjustment layer. I clipped the adjustment layer to the original layer to ensure the adjustment only affected this layer, as later on I will be placing layers below.


I also needed to brighten the image and add some contrast. I added contrast using levels and once again clipped it to the main image.
The background of the image is black and I need it to be white. I selected the background using the magic wand tool. I used the magic wand tool because I wanted the selection to be rough and look as if it has been cut out with scissors. Once the selection was made I created a curves adjustment layer and filled the selection in the layer mask to have the adjustment only effect  this area.


I created a layer group below the main image and inside the group I created a new layer and filled it with white. I went back to my main image and set the blending to screen. This makes the image disappear. I reselected my previous selection and inverted it. On the group I added a layer mask and filled the layer with the selection.

I sourced water colour textures and brush strokes. I opened a texture, converted it to black and white and selected everything but the highlights (the easiest way to do this is selection colour range highlights and then invert the selection).
I created a new group inside the group I already created and named it texture strokes. I did this because I will need to make a layer adjustment for all the textured brush strokes and with them all in a group I can clip the adjustment to the group.
I copied the brush texture and place it in this group and set the blending to multiply. In setting the blending to multiply it will reveal areas of the image because screen and multiply are opposite blending modes.


I repeated the process of copying different brush textures several times, using multiple textures. My aim was to reveal the faces but to have it look messy.
I added a levels adjustment layer clipped to the group to increase the contrast of the textures.


Using larger watercolour textures, I added colour to the image. I created a new group and placed the colour textures here setting the blending to multiply.


I added some larger colour textures to the bottom of the image.


Next I added patterned textures from old wallpapers. I chose wallpapers that had a floral pattern. I opened these and desaturated them. I then went Image–Adjustment-Threshold and changed the threshold until I got a 2 toned image with strong black and white areas. I selected the black area of the pattern (using selection – colour range) and copied it on a new layer in a new group with the blending set to multiply.


I went to my brushes library and chose a selection of floral brushes. On a new layer, in the same group as the wallpaper textures, I placed these floral patterns onto the image. The idea of this was to add an added depth of texture to the image.


I wanted to create some background colour, but unconventionally I added a group above the image main image. I reselected the selection I used earlier for the layer masks and added it to the mask of the new group for the background colour I just created. I placed large water colour textures in this group and set the blending to multiply.


I added floral brushes to the background colour group. This time I used white and reduced the opacity. I did this to keep some continuity between the foreground and background of the image.

Mixmedia Wedding Portait

This is not the usual process I would apply to an image. This is something special that I would do from time to time and I don’t think it would work with all images. The edit time was about 3 hours this is because when adding the floral brushes you can go overboard. I needed to go back and re do some brush areas.
The idea of the image was to create a mix media effect. I think I accomplished this with the watercolour textures, floral templates and photography.

If you have any comments and questions add them in the comment box below.

Remember to head over to Stacy’s Blog and check out all the others participating in the forum today.

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14 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Mix Media Wedding Portrait

  1. I’m with Andrew. You’ve done an amazing job with the image but I’m going to have to sit down and re-read how you did this! Just amazing!

      • The workflow. That is my big complaint. And now I’ve put my foot in it and have to write something about it. I was planning on maybe taking one photo and processing it several different ways.

      • I would say you put your foot in it, I am quite concious that complex workflows can be hard to write and therfore read. Processing different ways would be interesting, I find re-editing images after a long time can crwate new views as our editing skills improve.

      • I definitely agree. I can’t begin to tell you how many older photos I have re-edited. Or other images I now save from the trash because I didn’t have the skills earlier to pull the photo out!

  2. I’m a little late in getting here, but this is really awesome (in the literal sense). The end result is very cool. Like some others, I am going to have study this post to better grasp the techniques, but even on the first time through I was making mental notes along the lines of “cool technique, didn’t know that, I could use it in other ways as well.” Thanks for going through the steps; very interesting.

  3. Wow, Ben, what a wonderful gift to present to this couple! I am actually taking an all day class on Photoshop tomorrow, with a concentration on layers and masks, and I am going to revisit your post afterwards as I’m hoping it will make much more sense to me 🙂 Thanks, however, for the time it obviously took you to put this post together and for sharing it with all of us. Just absolutely amazing what you have done here!

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