photobashing art techniques and examples

Photobashing: Is it Art? Techniques and Examples

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What is Photobashing? Photobashing is a technique used by concept artists and matte painters to speed up the process of creating photo-realistic artwork, generally used in film production and game design studios where the quality standards are high and quick turnarounds pretty much essential.

Photobashing is similar to photo compositing and generally involves combining photographs and sometimes 3D models together to create a new piece of artwork, this reliance on photographic textures and objects has led to some sceptics denouncing Photobashing as cheating and not real art.

However, not only is Photobashing economically practical but the technique requires a great amount of skill and attention to detail, not to mention being extremely proficient with photo manipulation software such as Photoshop and the new pretender to the image processing crown Affinity Photo.

Combining images with different colour attributes, various lighting setups and subtle changes in perspective is a much-in-demand skill, that takes years to truly master, like any other form of digital or indeed traditional art, a skill that has to be learned and constantly practised to make the end result as convincing as possible.

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landscape concept art

Conceptual Landscapes and Environments

setting the scene

Photobashing is pretty much essential nowadays when creating landscapes that either don’t exist or would be impossible or downright dangerous to film, matte landscape painting has been around since the early beginnings of the film industry and is still used today in probably 99% of movies being made.

The techniques required are also very useful to video game publishers, photographers and digital artists who quickly need to change the sky in an image or add realistic mountains to the background of a scene.

Two skills that are fundamental to great landscape design are values, a way of determining how light and dark various aspects of your imaginary landscape should be and perspective which can draw the potential viewer into the scene.

Landscapes and environments are vital to the art of storytelling, literally setting the scene for characters to interact and co-exist with each other, fighting battles and even falling in love has to happen somewhere and in an imaginary scenario, the landscape and environment artist is king.

Concept Art Environment: Photobashing Tutorial

by Imad Awan

photobash concept art
Play Video

Imad Awan is a professional artist and illustrator working in the video game industry and in this highly detailed concept art tutorial Imad walks you through designing and texturing a photo-realistic environment from scratch.

Learn how to use photographic textures and 3D models to create an incredibly realistic looking digital painting or concept art piece quickly and easily, learning invaluable Photobashing techniques along the way.

Follow Imad Awan on YouTube or Instagram

Photobashing Character Design

from idea to finished concept

Designing a new character from scratch, be it for a video game, a movie or a comic book, can be an extremely complex undertaking and any technique that can speed up this process, such as Photobashing, can be an invaluable weapon when confronted with this time consuming process.

Good reference material is always the place to start when collecting inspiration and ideas for your next character concept. However, being mindful of how these images could help with your Photobashing technique later on in the creative process would also be a huge time saver.

Faces, body parts, clothing and accessories can all be collected from various sources online and placed into digital libraries for easy retrieval, allowing initial concepts to be visualised quickly and easily on screen.

Re-inventing the wheel can be a massive waste of resources when designing concept characters, at the end of the day a battle axe is a battle axe, whether you draw it yourself from scratch or use a 3D model or a photograph in your concept idea. Importantly, your audience or even your boss or client doesn’t care how you created these images, just that they came in on time and on budget, or simply look amazing.

Photobashing Character Design Tutorial

by Jarold Sng

Play Video

Learn how to create a character from initial sketch to the finished concept using a variety of design and Photobashing techniques.

A fascinating insight into how a professional concept artist approach’s character design and Photobashing.

Grab a cuppa or a beer and watch in awe as Jarold Sng guides you through his entire creative process from start to finish in real-time.

Photobashing Resources

free and paid photobashing assets

The problem with searching Google and other image sites such as Pinterest for source material you can use in Photobashing are the limited resolutions that are available. If you are just planning to display your artwork online, then resolution probably won’t be a hindrance. However, if you plan on printing out your creations at some point in the future, high-resolution images and high-poly 3D models are an absolute must.

Copyright Free Images

Photobashing requires a huge library of images to work from and if those images are copyright free, then all the better. Choose images from only the best CC0 providers on the Internet.


The PhotoBash website is rapidly becoming the number one resource for royalty-free photographs, masked images and superior 3D models. Kickstart your next project by visiting PhotoBash.

KitBash 3D

KitBash 3D is a website dedicated to providing high-quality 3D models to studios, freelance artists and hobbyists alike. Find the perfect asset for your next Photobashed piece.

Free Photo Realistic Textures

Make your digital renders look even more realistic with this collection of free PBR textures. High-resolution images, complete with displacement, normal and roughness maps included.

Free 3D Models

If you are using the free 3D application Blender to create 3D scenes for your images, save time modelling them yourself and pick up some awesome, free models in .blend format.

Free Space and Sci-Fi Assets

Everything you need to create realistic space and sci-fi scenes. Planet textures, 3D space models, HDRI environment images and so much more, all for free and ready to use.

Examples of Photobashing and Compositing

photo manipulation artwork at its very best

Sarah DeRemer is a professional photographer, artist and keen Photobasher with a clear talent for creative retouching.

Rocket Science by Benny Productions

Benjamin van Valen is an amazingly talented teenager form the Netherlands, who specialises in making exciting photo composites. Check out his tutorials on YouTube.

Learn how to recreate this stunning SCI-FI theme photo manipulation, with the help of this excellent Adobe Photoshop tutorial by Mir Rom

Watch in awe as talented digital artist and YouTuber rafy A shows you how he created this surreal elephant scene using Photoshop.

Space Explosion

3D Photobash, using elements from the Free Space and Sci-Fi Assets pack.

Nemanja Sekulic is a photographer, digital artist and tutor with a passion for Photobashing. Learn how he created this awesome Underground Rocket on YouTube.

The question asked at the beginning of this article was “Is Photobashing Art?” Well, art is subjective but if art is creating images that are easy on the eye, stimulating to the mind and inspiring for the soul, then just looking at the images above, the answer would be a resounding yes.

Photobashing is an art form all to its self and has only been made possible thanks to computer science and the wonder that is the Internet.

The skill set involved is very different to traditional painting but it is a skill nonetheless, a skill that can be honed and refined to perfection, a skill that combines numerous disciplines and a thorough understanding of modern image processing software and you don’t need to spend a fortune on Photoshop, check out our guide to free digital art software.

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