Creating An Apocalyptic Portrait

Creating a dramatic portrait is very difficult at times when you are struggling for inspiration. I had been playing the game "The Last Of Us' and was so inspired by the world they had created. The atmosphere was so intense and as I became more obsessed by the game I started to look into the concept art.


The paintings and designs were fascinating, seeing how the world had aged and the struggles these people went through to survive in this world.


I mulled over the idea of creating some sort of portrait inspired by "The Last Of Us" for quite some time, but couldn't really work out how to approach it, so it got put on the back burner for a while.


The inspiration


Using my favourite place to create a moodpboard (Pinterest) over the coming weeks I started to put together a collection of images. These were from films, games and paintings.


Looking at the light they were predominately side lit and had a backlight to add a separation or rim light to the faces.



At first I was thinking of trying to create a whole scene but I could not get past the fact I would need to find a location which was run down, needed props and styling, so started to just focus on the emotion that was told in a close up portrait, with the intention of returning to a wider more cinematic scene in future.


Testing on yourself


I spent some time working out the lighting by using myself to experiment on and I was happy that I finally worked out how to do it. The next step was to figure out how to apply makeup to create a weathered, worn out look.


Through a bit of research I found some make up tutorials on Youtube where they explained how to create a realistic ground in dirt look for film. I purchased some make up, congealed blood and a bruise wheel.


Having never done this before I thought it was best if I experimented on myself first. It was great fun but the idea was to not get too carried away, as I can tell you that as soon as you have some fake blood to play with, it's so much fun.


The final self portrait




I really liked the way the final image came out and it had the cinematic look I was going for but sometimes it's hard to look at photos of yourself, so this one was probably going to be kept for private, that was until I started to write this blog.


Applying the skills I learnt


The next step was to use all the make up, lighting and retouching on someone else. So again my fiancé Emma stepped up to be my model.




I absolutely love this portrait of Emma.


We spent quite a lot of time during the shoot trying to work out the emotion we wanted to bring across and the pose we needed. Emma was able to cry on cue and as the tear slowly rolled down her cheek I was able to catch it in just the right place.


These images are all about despair and do you having the courage to carry on. Perhaps appropriate for the times we are currently living in, in 2021.


As an idea, this is a series I wish to continue to explore. If you would like to volunteer for an apocalyptic portrait please get in contact and we can start to plan the story we want your character to tell.


There is so much to explore and develop with these ideas I'm very excited about producing more of them.



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