Ella and the Dolphin1

Digital Art Posing

Are you wanting to create a digital art image or have a digital art image created for you?  You might be asking where do I start or how is this done?  This post will go over my thought process when planning a digital art session and how I pose my subjects.

The Concept:

Most times my clients have a general concept of what type of digital art image they are looking for but, occasionally they are open to different options.  So where do you start?  Here are a few questions I go through in my planning process:

  • How old is the subject?
  • What are their interests?
  • Where does my client want to display this image?
  • How does my client want to display this image (print, canvas, etc.)?
  • Is the client looking for more of a fantasy look or a realistic look?

Once you have these questions answered you can start putting together a concept for the digital background and planning the posing session.  Often times when I am planning a session I already have a digital backdrop in the works.   This isn’t always necessary but very helpful when it comes to posing and lighting.

For this post I am going to use this purchased backdrop by Imagination by Rowena as an example:


Backdrop Credit:  Imagination By Rowena

Subject Posing Thought Process: 

This particular backdrop has several factors when you are planning how to pose your subject:

  • What is the direction of the lighting?
    • In this image you can look at the dolphin and see the highlights on the dolphins head but not on the back.   That tells me the lighting is coming from the left.
  • What are the conditions in the setting?
    • The subject would be in the water this would require a bathing suit.
    • They would be wet or at the least have wet messy hair.
  • How should the body be placed?
    • The subject would need to be sitting on something that is small and rounded or the subject could be standing in the water with their head just under the dolphin jumping over them (this requires extra work with the hair to appear as if it is floating).
  • What should the expression be?
    • In this case I wanted my subject to be riding the dolphin so I would think they would be surprised if the dolphin jumped out of the water with them on their back.

Posing Setup:

For this image I used my youngest daughter.  For her I knew she had to be up off the ground if I was going to get her to stay (safety is always number one when it comes to photographing kids so please never put a child at risk for an image).  We happened to have a little car that was perfectly round and the right height to position her.  I needed to secure the car on a box and sure the wheels could not move to ensure she would be safe and not run away on me.  Here are some tips:

  • Green Screen:  Pull your subject away from the green screen to avoid color cast or use a white background.
  • Under The Subject:  Add white to reflect light and avoid color casting. But also keep in mind your backdrop.  In this case there would be light reflected off the water but you might want to use black if your backdrop has a dark ground.
  • Expression:  Say things to get your subject to make the expression you want.  Saying look surprised doesn’t work if the child doesn’t know what that looks like so, show them.  The other tip is to get a helper to make funny faces if you want a smile or someone to show them surprised so you can focus on the taking the image.
  • Clothing:  For this one I used a spray bottle to make her appear wet with messy hair.
  • Pay Attention:  Watch the feet and hands.  Make sure the toes are all showing and the hands are placed to fit in your scene.

The SOOC used for my image:


Notice I turned her backwards on the car so I would see her left thigh and to keep her from hiding her hands.  Since my studio natural light source is on the right I knew I could flip the image in photoshop to turn to the left.  It’s not always important to have them facing the right direction.  The lighting is much harder to fix in photoshop and is so important to making the image look “realistic.”

Next Steps and Reference:

Now you have your backdrop and you have your subject images what’s next:

I hope this guide has helped you understand the thought process on posing subjects for a digital art image and the work that goes into creating an image.

For more tutorials,  freebies, constructive criticism I highly recumbent you join Rowena’s Facebook group Image-Ination by Rowena Digital art compositing learning and fun. This group is small, fun and no one is ever left without help, why pay for tutorials when you can get it for free.


Final Image:

Ella and the Dolphin1

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