This is kind of an ongoing project for me, but I haven't really had the chance to work on it as of late, which is extremely unfortunate. "The Gazelle" was my first creation, and I made it a while back so I don't remember the exact details. It's one of those, "make it up as you go" kinda things, ya know?
Anyway, so I got this idea one day to make a zoo out of pretty much nothing and have these creatures on display, only they're modified humans. The idea was inspired by my favorite artist ever, Salvador Dali, and his "Les Elephantes" painting. (You know, the elephants with the long, skinny legs that will eventually be tattooed onto my side? - TMI, sorry.)
So I started putting it together. There are 25 active Photoshop layers in the final result, (not including the initial modifications to the gazelle herself), 10 to put the gazelle in her surroundings, and 15 for the background. It took me about 6 hours to put together, so if you plan on making something yourself, be prepared to stare at a computer screen for hours on end.
Step 1: The Gazelle
Now, before I could put anything from the final image together, I had to create the gazelle. It looks like a simple task to stretch out her legs, but let me tell you, it was much more challenging than you would think.
Not only did I have to stretch her legs, but I had to prevent her body from stretching as well, so I selected the bottom half of the photograph to stretch.
*Note: the reason why the top part of the original photo has grey around the edges is because for part of the stretching process, I adjusted the camera distortion in Lightroom before taking it into Photoshop.
I used puppet warp for most of the stretching, but when you puppet warp half the image instead of the whole, the intersection where the two halves meet don't line up anymore. On top of that, the feet distorted, her thighs became thicker and her butt lengthened. Obviously, I didn't want this, so after using puppet warp for a TON of different adjustments, I went back in with liquify and tightened all of those areas as well as her shirt, arms and stomach.
In the last image, you'll notice that I took the time to cut her out and put her on a white background. Why, if I was just going to put her on a different background anyway? Because not only is she easier to select from white, but I could create my own shadows for her legs and flip her around.