Artist of the Week: Photo Manipulations by Martin Grohs

Adobe Photoshop has revolutionized the way we make art. Digital photography has allowed photographers to experiment a whole lot more, without costing them an arm and a leg to do so. Just think of how hard it must have been in the old-timey days to make a photo look the way you wanted it to look. But in our lovely modern days, we get to photoshop pictures to perfection.

Well, the fact of the mater is that photo manipulation has been around for a very long time, now. An early example of this is in 1860, when one of the most famous photos of Abraham Lincoln (the one that would later appear on the 5$ bill) was, in fact, a photo manipulation where they put Lincoln’s head on the body of John C. Calhoun.

So that is already a more than one and a half century old example of photo manipulation, and it was not like it was a solitary case. Journalists have been using this method to make their photos more sensational, and it has also been used for propaganda, various leaders having people air brushed out of their public photos.

The results you get out of physical photo manipulation is really about as good as the results you get out of digital manipulation, only that digital manipulation is immeasurably easier.

Aside from the sometimes insidious purposes of advertising, and the always insidious purposes of propaganda, photo manipulation is also used to create some pretty stunning art.

Photo manipulation has allowed artists to express themselves in a completely new way, and create fantastic, realistic images that could not be captured solely in the real world.

In this article, we will be showcasing the superb photo manipulations of Martin Grohs, a self-taught graphic designer and artist from Leipzig, Germany.


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In 2007 he began his work in Adobe Photoshop by retouching images, but he soon fell in love with the creative liberty that the software allows, and started modifying the pictures more and more. This lead to him specializing in photo manipulation, and him creating some rather amazing pictures, for both artistic, and commercial purposes.


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The 27 year old artist is not, however, only limited to photo manipulation. His love for art began at a very early age, so he is also a fairly accomplished illustrator, as you can see by clicking this link, or this one, or by checking out his Behance profile, in general.

Although and artist, rest assured that Martin is by no mean of the starving, out of work variety. He is currently working as a graphic designer at, while also being a freelancer, the Creative Director of Cosmosys, and a member of both Evokeone and Intrinsic Nature. He is also an artist at depthCORE.

As a professional, his works have been commissioned by an impressive roster of clients, among them being Desktopography, Adobe, and even Volkswagen. Even the makers of his tools think he is good enough to pay him money to use them. That definitely makes him an aspirational figure for any designer with big ambitions.


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Martin is a great admirer of surrealism, and that really shows in his works. Ranging from the artistic to the commercial, his manipulations are a real testament to his skill, and his love for the “more than real”.

Now we are going to show you a selection what we think are some of his best works, and discuss them so you can get a bit of insight into the artist’s thought process, and so that, hopefully, you will get a bit of design inspiration.


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This image could have so easily fallen into the macabre, but the decision to not add any blood effects make it a rather tasteful cautionary tale. You have to admire the attention to detail that went into this piece, as the bits of finger all have individual shadows and reflections in the knife’s blade. Also, the fact that not all the cut lines are straight makes it look all the more visceral.


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This photo is all about the lighting, which is expertly executed, giving the impression that there really was a light shining on the chameleon. The lamp is also really elegantly made, although it is pretty obviously a 3D designed and generated one, being not too much of a cobra as to forget it is a lamp, and not too much of a lamp so as to forget it is suppose to be a cobra.


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We don’t know about you, but we really want a coffee mug just like that one. If you have ever tried to make a photo manipulation, than you know just how much work had to be put in to this one to make it look this realistic.


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Now this is a real stunner. The previous picture is cool, no doubt, but it most certainly is something that can be physically done. You could maybe even see that coffee mug in a shop and buy it. But this absolutely fantastic photo manipulation, depicting a woman that is an octopus from the waste down is so realistic that it is almost disturbing, and you certainly won’t see anything like this in the real world… if science doesn’t go to far


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Since we are talking about disturbing photo manipulations, here is a picture of Martin with two out of three eyes closed. This photo shows just how good the artist is at his craft, as the picture is so realistic that you would certainly be forgiven for thinking that this is not, in fact, a photo manipulation, but rather Martin reenacting a scene from Silence of the Lambs.


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Those little wires inside the light-bulb (of course you can give the correct name in the comment section) really do kind of look like some sort of skinny, creepy insect. Or, at least, they do now that the artist has pointed it out. This shows just how versatile photo manipulation can be when done properly. This really does look like it could be a photograph of a sculpture, and that is why modifying photos transcends several visual art forms.


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These are some pretty awesome posters, right here. Like the picture before, these images look like photos of some really exquisitely designed miniature sculpture. Miniature sculptures we would absolutely want to own. Now. So if you know anyone who works with metal, tell them to make this happen!


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We are going to reference the “mosquitobulb” photo again for this entry. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, but to keep things simple, let’s just say that this photo says “Did you ever notice how the toothpaste you put on your brush kinda looks like an exotically colored snail? It really does, now that you mention it.”


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Another thing that you can do with photo manipulations is visual gags, in the style of short comics. We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t chuckle a bit after we saw this photo. In fact, we’re still kind of chuckling now, and probably still will be by the time you’re reading this article.

Waxy Monkey Frog

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A big part of fantasy is imagining new, weird and wonderful creatures to inhabit the world you are creating. One way people imagine this critters is by mixing several real animals into one completely new species. Here, Martin takes a shot at it by blending together a tree-frog, scorpion and what looks like an eagle (with snake eyes) to create this incredibly realistic new miniature death-dealer.


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As we’ve already mentioned in this article, Martin is also a freelancer, which makes him, as the text in photo states, his own boss. This photo is an excellent visual queue for the “Be your own boss” message, and the puppet is superbly done.


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And now, we end where we began, namely with another light-bulb-inspired photo manipulation. This time it’s a juicy pear, made to look like a light-bulb… or maybe it’s the other way around. It’s hard to tell.

That about wraps up our article. We hope you enjoyed our presentation of Martin Grohs’ marvelous photo manipulations, and that they have inspired you to create your own totally awesome images. If you want to see more of his work, be sure to check his website, here, and don’t forget to tell us what you think of the article, or share any other of his works, in the comment section below.

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