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I enjoy working with images. I haven't gotten so sophisticated as to work with 3D images or Animated images yet and so mostly work with photos and similar images. I started working on fantasy images - meaning just putting together images to suit my fancy. I would add figures and subtract figures, change costumes and that sort of thing. I have gotten moderately good at it.
I try to make things look like they fit together and look as realistic as possible at times and sometimes it works better than others. One of the big things in how real it looks depends on what sorts of images I have to work from. The more I might have to modify lighting and shadow, the greater the chance that something will look like it just isn't right. Something just will seem odd about it. So having a library of images to use is quite important.
That is an issue because while I can find huge amounts of images I might use, there are issues of copyright involved. I know it is possible to use some bits here and there, but how much is okay? In the image of the Toucan Gryphon I am using four images at least in the construction of it. I imagine the person who took the photo of the horse might recognize it, though it wasn't a black horse with white boots. The person who took the picture of the eagle might recognize the image from which they were taken, but the wings in that shot were brown and were not nearly so up swept, nor of course did they have the green highlights. The Toucan head is probably more recognizable and the background as well.
I did do the composition of the image and altering of all the pieces and made them fit. I also had the idea for putting it all together and the work in finding the bits I needed. Even the background is altered. I did try to chose a background that wasn't too readily identifiable.
I have found some sources of images that are free for use by artists though they do have limits in scope, especially if you are seeking particular types of animals or scenes. One such source I use is Image * After which has a fairly large library.
For personal projects and those for friends where the image is only for their personal use I am not quite as particular. For a friend yesterday I took an image of God or an Angel standing on a bridge through the clouds and showing a little girl where they live and altered the image to make the little girl a little boy and I also added a poem that my Friend wrote. The project is for my Friend's Grandmother for her Grandfather's funeral. The skills I have gained made it so I could do a good job and create a beautiful card for them.
I will have to learn more about copyright and usage of photographic images. I have learned some from the Creative Commons and their section on derivative works, but I need to learn more if I want to go beyond images for personal enjoyment only. Still the techniques and skills are very useful in many different sorts of projects.