How to photograph and compose an advertising “cosmetic drop”

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In this 15-minute video, we break down a step-by-step approach to capturing the footage needed to compose an attractive cosmetic drop.

We start by capturing the cosmetic part of the image, extending the lipstick out of the tube as much as possible. With a cheap nylon diffuser and a flash, we can create a great highlight on the left side of our cosmetic.

Not only will it flatter the lipstick, but it will also provide us with a nice light source for the drip. A thin-rimmed light created with an extra stripbox and speedlight combo will sculpt our cosmetic (and drip) against the stark black background.

To capture the movement of the lipstick as it “melts” in a drip, we used a wooden stick and red acrylic paint. It is important to match the color of the acrylic paint with the cosmetic, for easier time in post-production. Carefully using a two second distance mode, we applied acrylic paint heavily to the wooden stick to start capturing the frozen movement.

It took a few times for an attractive drip to expire perfectly, but once we capture a large number of options, we have everything we need to complete the composite. Sometimes it may be necessary to use an additional reflector to bounce the light around the scene, as we are primarily using a light source coming from one direction.

To combine the top cosmetic with the bottom drop image, we used various techniques in Adobe Photoshop. We start by simply masking the products and roughly attaching them together for a basic visual to work with. Using a tool known as the Warp Mesh Tool, we can individually twist the layers to connect them seamlessly and complete the illusion of cosmetic fusion.

It might take some tweaking to leave the image in a visually transparent way, but once the illusion is created, it brings together all the beauty of the lighting and leaves a stunning visual on a stark black ensemble.


About the Author: Dustin Dolby of workphlo, is a Canadian product photographer and YouTube educator. You can find more tutorials on Dustin’s workphlo YouTube channel or Skillshare, and purchase their custom lighting support accessories from the workphlo online store.


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