The Droste Effect is an interesting and creative way to show a scene photographically. It is known as a mise en abyme. This is a formal technique of placing a copy of an image within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence.
A Dutch brand of cocoa, named Droste, made it famous. Their packaging tin depicted an image designed by Jan Misset in 1904. The design displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. It has since been used in the packaging of a variety of products.
It is simple enough to create, and all you need is one image, Photoshop or a program known as Photo Spiralysis.
Droste Effect Method One – Photoshop
The easiest way is to open your image in Photoshop, and copy and paste the image smaller and smaller. Here is our image.
Step One – Open your image in Photoshop.
Step Two – Duplicate and paste the image.
Step Three – Use Free Transform to scale the image down to size.
Step Four – Place it over the area you are going to work on.
Step Five – Drag the smaller image to the bottom of the layer stack.
Step Six – Select the ‘Quick Selection Tool’.
Step Seven – Select the area the image will go in.
Step Eight – Select the ‘Eraser Tool’.
Step Nine – Erase the areas to show the layer underneath.
Step Ten – Repeat Steps 2 to 10 as many times as you need to.
And here you have the final image.
Droste Effect Method Two – Photo Spiralysis
The other method is to open your image in Photo Spiralysis. This is the image we are working from.
Step One – Open the webpage of Photo Spiralysis. Click on the folder icon in the top left-hand corner to import your file.
Step Two – Familiarise yourself with the settings. Magnification makes the image larger or smaller. Spirals makes more or less spirals in the image and Stretch allows you to stretch the image further.
Step Three – The red dot in the middle is the centre-point. This is the area you need to click and drag to adjust the images.
Step Four – First – We change the spirals to 2. This is when we start to see a change in our image.
Step Five – The aim is to ensure the image inside the frame we are using is not visible in our final image.
Step Six – Change the magnification to 2 to get more images repeated, hiding the areas we do not want.
Step Seven – By changing the stretch from 1 to 1.1 gives us a very drastic change. Now, we start to see our image take shape.
Step Eight – Play around with the placement of the image by moving the red dot (centre-point).
Step Nine – Change the magnification and stretch to find the perfect combination. We found that 2.8 magnification showed us we were on the right track.
Step Ten – Our final numbers were Magnification = 2.836, Spirals = 2 and Stretch = 1.103.
Step Eleven – Click on the create the final image icon, then render and save.
And there we have it. An image with a spiral that repeats itself indefinitely.
It can be a little finicky to get right, but with patience and time, you can create something really interesting.
For more great Photoshop projects, check out our posts on turning photos into paintings or the cool photoshop trick ‘insomnia’.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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