Vionnet Style



Corrine Vionnet in “Photo Opportunities”, trawled the internet for images of well-known objects like the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal posted in social networking sites.  Each image was carefully overlaid with the main feature in register as much as was possible.  The effects are surreal and ethereal.

Freeman Patterson is an analogue film worker and produces images composed of many short exposures of the same subject each slightly out of alignment with the exposure calculated in total to equal a "correctly exposed" image.

The similarities between the styles are very close. The aim is not to give realism, but more to give a feeling or impression of the subject.  If you’ve ever looked at a field or meadow of flowers, photographed them, and then looked at the image after processing to see a few flowers dotted in the grass, but your memory was a carpet of colour, you’ll empathise.

The purpose of this tutorial is to emulate the Vionnet style.  The clue as to the method lies in the light ethereal quality.  The closest blending mode is that of screen blend.

Using a spreadsheet like EXCEL it is possible to calculate and display the way in which adjacent layers will interact with each other.  The maths of the way in which Paint Shop Pro makes adjacent layers interact, shows that this blend always produces a lighter result than each of layers contributing to it, hence being close to our needs.

I've a rhododendron bush that always flowers well but photos never give the impression that satisfies me.  I took nine images of it, each from slightly a different angle and then partially aligned them using the stem of the bush as the guide.  The accuracy of the WACOM tablet is essential in achieving the objective.  The overlap of the images is not critical, so your camera can be set to “auto everything”.

Preparing The Images


Paint Shop Pro can be very unforgiving if you try to open too many RAW images, or many large sized JPGs, especially if you've being doing a lot of photo-editing.  So the best line of approach is to limit the size of the files.  The intention is to produce a “feeling” for the scene, not an accurate record, so we are not looking for extreme detail in the subject.

If you are working from RAWs or large JPGs it might be worthwhile recording a script and then batch-processing the folder of files.  Since the effect we're looking for does not demand fine detail, the dimensions of the images need not be large.

Also, if you like the Vionnet process, you have the batch instructions for another occasion.  But beware; trying to re-size a portrait image using a batch file written for landscape images can produce some bizarre results.  There are scripts published on the web, which can help you in limiting file size.


Starting To Assemble The Images


screen blendmode base image


Just one of the nine images to show the starting point; the other eight are similar, but taken from a viewpoint nearby!

Make a new blank image (your masterpiece) using File > New, with the dimensions slightly larger than the picture you’re processing at 300pixels (suitable for printing later) and as a white image.

File > Open to open the first image

Copy it Edit > Copy.  Then switch to the blank background image you created and paste it as a layer Edit > Paste As New Layer.

Then close down the first image you loaded to save memory.  Set the blend mode to normal.
In turn load each of the images, using the following procedure.

File > Open to open the next image

Copy it Edit > Copy.  Then switch to the masterpiece image you created and have been working on, and paste it as a layer Edit > Paste As New Layer.

Then close down the image you loaded to save memory.

In the masterpiece, set the blend mode to screen and the opacity to 50%.  A simple way of achieving this is to highlight the opacity bar by clicking halfway along it, and using the left and right arrow keys to gain the value.

Select the Pick tool, click onto the recently added layer in the layers palette, and use the pick tool to move the highlighted area in the main image window until you align an area of interest in the two layers. 

The WACOM tablet is invaluable in this process, the mouse achieves this very poorly.

Completing The Assembly


In turn the rest of the images should be added.

File > Open to open the next image Copy it Edit > Copy.  Then switch to the masterpiece image you created and have been working on, and paste it as a layer Edit > Paste As New Layer.

Then close down the image you loaded to save memory.

In the masterpiece, set the blend mode to screen and the opacity to 50%.

It’s a good idea to do this operation stepwise, image by image, since if you load all images in one go, the alignment is very difficult.


screen blend mode stack


Completing The Masterpiece


Step four – completing the Vionnet masterpiece

When you’re quite satisfied with the alignment, you need to merge the layers down Layers > Merge > Merge All.

I wanted a little more contrast in the image, so I added a curves adjustment layer
Layers > New Adjustment Layer > Curves


screen blend mode contrast


I like the straight edges from the layers still showing, but you could use the Crop tool; a frame is also a possible enhancement.

Layers > Merge > Merge All  and then Image > Picture Frame

screen blend mode frame

There are many other possible ways of combining images in the Vionnet style ...
  • Slight rotation using the pick tool will produce a spiral effect
  • Overlaying similar but slightly unrelated images will give a carpet of colour

Final adjustments can include
  • Histogram to balance the tone range
  • Hue/Saturation/Lightness to enhance colour

Some Examples


vionnnet fernilea

Fernilea



Vionnet sydney botanic gardens

Sydney Botanic Gardens



vionnet sydney town hall


Sydney Town Hall




Vionnet Page Links

Preparation

Starting The Assembly

Completing The Assembly

Completing the Masterpiece

Examples








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