Over the past few months, I’ve had quite a few people email me about my process. Most of the questions concern how I do my photo modifications, but others have covered everything from the framing I use in my stories to how I write. So, being as how I haven’t done a “How-To” post in a couple of years, I figured it was a good time to go through my process for you all. So, here it is, in all its glory.
The process really isn’t that difficult to grasp, though it takes quite a lot of practice to establish a workflow with which you’re comfortable. I’ll go through the basic order first, and then I’ll go into more detail for each step. Basically, this is the process overview:
- Model Selection (Before, Transition, After, Penis)
- Photo Selection (above mentioned, plus establishing shots)
- Photo Modification
I know that seems very basic, but that’s the order in which I work.
The first part of model selection is that you need to be very, very familiar with porn actresses. A good resource is Pornhub’s pornstar database. It lets you filter results to find the exact type of model you’re looking for (breast size, ethnicity, age, etc.), and is an invaluable tool when you don’t already have a good collection of photos.
The second part (if you’re intent on putting out a large volume of content, like I do) is that you’re going to need a lot of photos of a wide variety of models. Always be on the lookout for new photos (I have tens of thousands on my hard drive).
The following are great resources for finding appropriate photos:
- Viper Girls is a forum-based database of adult photos in which users can post photo sets. There are options to download full sets, but I tend to save individual pictures. However, be advised that this site can be a bit dicey, so make sure your virus protection and anti-malware programs are up to date and running. I get probably half of my photos from here, mostly because with full photo sets, you can get a wide variety of angles (which is very important when modifying photos).
- Pornpics is my second favorite site for gathering photos, mostly because it's super easy to use. Just type in the name of the model, and it'll give you a list of galleries. However, because the galleries usually only contain 6-12 photos, the selection isn't as good as something like Viper Girls(where the galleries contain upwards of a hundred photos). Still, it does provide a nice base.
- Pichunter is another site that's very similar to Pornpics, but it tends to focus more on hardcore scenes. That said, despite its limitations, it's a really good source.
- If you're looking for non-explicit photos, Wikifeet is a nice resource. They don't allow nudity, so you can get a lot of filler-photos (non-explicit pictures for character building scenes).
- Twitter is kind of hit-or-miss, but if you're willing to sort through potentially thousands of photos, you can find some really nice, slice-of-life type photos. The quality's usually not great, but they'll work if that's the sort of story you're writing. Seeing these models in more mundan, non-porn situations can add a lot to the visual realism of the story.
- Pinterest is another good for non-explicit photos, but I typically use it for transition scenes (with face swaps). Just search for whatever style you're looking for (short hair, tomboy, pantsuits, etc.). Most of the results won't be usable, but you'll find some gems if you're persistent.
- Of course, search engines are also nice. I primarily use Bing (because it doesn't filter explicit results), but Google can be useful as well.
- There are, of course, other sites that I don't use very often, but are no less useful because of that. Barelist and Imagefap are the best of the rest, I think, but there are any number of resources out there. Just be careful what you click!
- And if I'm looking for specific types of models (but I don't know of any particular one), I use Pornhub's Pornstar Search. It had a great filter that lets you limit your results by all manner of categories (hair color, ethnicity, age, breast size, etc.).
Now that you know where to find photos, there are a few things you need to know about how to pair your models. There are basically two ways to go about it:
This, predictably, refers to a situation where you choose a “before” model before choosing the primary model (meaning, choosing the boy before the girl). It’s a valid method, but I don’t use it that often. However, if you’re going to use this, you need to keep a few things in mind.
First, don’t look at the entire face. Look at eye and mouth shapes. Those are things that won’t change. Jawlines, face shape, nose shape, etc. are easily changeable through surgery and hormones. It’s difficult to change a person’s eyes or mouth through surgery. The eyes also have the distinction of being the facial structure we tend to look at first. If they’re off, it really stretches the suspension of disbelief.
Second, if that seems daunting, don’t worry. There’s a shortcut in the form of a facial recognition site called Pornstar By Face. I confess that I do love this site. When you upload a photo, it’ll give you a list of porn stars who look like whichever photo you uploaded. It’s not perfect (far from it), but it gives you a really nice place to start.
This is the method I use more often, but it’s a little more difficult. However, it makes up for that difficulty by giving you a bit more freedom with your “after” model. Typically, once I’ve chosen a model, I search for actors of an appropriate age, then choose one that has the basic eye-and-mouth structures that match the “after” model. It’s time-consuming and can get really frustrating, but it’s really the only reliable way to do it.
However, there is a (semi-reliable) shortcut in the form of a site called Pictriev. It works similarly to Pornstar by Face, but instead of searching for porn stars, it searches celebrities who resemble your uploaded photo. Typically, I’ll modify the face of my “after” model, adding masculine characteristics (like untrimmed eyebrows, makeup removal, sharper jawline), and hope that I can trick it into thinking it’s looking at a male face. I’ve had mixed results, so don’t expect this to be more than a semi-useful resource.
Once you’ve got your “before” and “after” models chosen, you’re going to need a penis model. I typically use transgender porn stars, but feel free to use male porn stars too (though be prepared for quite a bit of frustration if you choose the latter route). The aforementioned Viper Girls is a great resource for finding transgender porn stars, but you need to be aware that it can get quite difficult to find a good selection of flaccid penises. Usually, porn producers want their starlets hard, so you’ll have to sift through a lot of photos if that’s not what you’re looking for. Another good source is The Shemale Star Database, but it doesn’t let you filter your search results at all. I admit that this is probably the most frustrating and tedious part of the process.
Your secondary characters are important, and having a few frames featuring them will go a long way towards making them more realistic to the reader. A description is one thing, but a photo is so much better.
I like to use porn stars for all of my characters. First, this is, after all, porn. We want to see naked people. But more importantly, it pulls the story together when your primary character and secondary characters share scenes together. Seeing them in the same frame just makes everything more realistic. However, sometimes it’s just not possible to find the right characters (finding non-nude photos of male porn stars is a huge pain the butt), so it’s also a good idea to just use photos of actors.
Once you’ve gotten your models sorted out, you need to organize your photos. If you haven’t already, separate the models into their separate sub-folders. I typically label them by the model’s name, but feel free to use the character names.
When that’s done, you’ll need to organize the primary model’s photos into two categories: pictures that need modification and pictures that don’t. Believe me, that makes things a lot easier when you get to the next phase.
Alright, so you’ve got your pictures. They’re organized. And you’re ready for the fun part, right? Before you get started, understand that there are a couple of things you need to be cognizant of when doing these modifications.
Things to Remember
- Lighting is probably the most important thing. When you’re looking at a photo, ask yourself where the light is
coming from. Just look for shadows and
note their angles. Most professional
photo shoots use three-point lighting, but you’ll also find that quite a few
photographers want to get fancy and use dramatic lighting. You just need to be aware of it because, if
you try to slap together two photos with different lighting, it’s going to look
- Skin Tone isn’t quite as important as lighting, but it can make a big
difference. Skin tone is something you
can sometimes fix, but it can just as often render the whole thing
useless. So, it’s better to pair models
with the same skin tone. However, I will
say that Latinas tend to work with just about anything. Just don’t try to pair a black model with a
white t-girl or vice versa. It usually
doesn’t work very well.
- Photo Quality is definitely something you need to pay attention to. If you’ve got a
high definition penis (or face) bolted onto an Instagram quality photo (or vice
versa), you’re going to have issues.
However, keep in mind that you can degrade the quality of a penis, but
you can’t really upgrade the quality of your base photo (without it looking
Face swapping can be an extraordinarily frustrating thing because if the thing is even slightly off, people are going to notice. We have an innate recognition of faces, so we can easily recognize when something’s wrong, even if we don’t know what, exactly, is wrong. That’s why it’s better to keep face swaps to a minimum (until you’re good at it).
However, if you’re determined to do it, watch the following video:
As you can see in that video, the results usually aren’t perfect. Often, when I do face swaps, I use that same method, but I also find myself painting quite a bit. In addition, it’s a good idea to erase portions of the face (meaning the skin, not the actual features like the eyes, mouth, nose, etc.) using a very soft, very light brush (turn that opacity way, way down). That brings the skin texture out while preserving the recognizable features, which in turn makes it blend together a little better.
You will also need to do quite a bit of color correction, especially if the harshness of the lighting differs between the two photos. Use your color selection and color matching tools liberally. It’s tedious and frustrating, and you’ll discard more photos than you use, but eventually, you’ll get it right.
I use a very similar method to the one listed above to add penises. When I first started out, I did everything manually, and it took forever. Changing colors and tones can be a real pain, even if you know what you’re doing. For a novice, it’s enough to make you want to throw things across the room.
The biggest difference between what I do and what the guy in the video does has to do with backgrounds. With a face, the only thing behind the face you’re importing is…well…more face. It’s an easy blend. But with a penis, that’s often not the case. You have backgrounds to contend with (see the below photo).
That photo is comprised of the following two pictures:
To blend the penis onto the model, I use the clone stamp tool to paint the background into the negative space. But use a soft brush! You don’t want hard edges (usually). Also, don’t worry about that background until after you’ve matched color.
The biggest problem with this method is that it requires you to find photos that match. That means that the models have to be standing similarly, the lighting has to be nearly the same, and the quality needs to match. That’s a lot more difficult than you might think. But if you find the right pair of photos, it’s not that hard.
Now something like the following is much tougher:
It's comprised of the following two images:
As you can see, the source model doesn’t have a dick up her ass, which makes blending the two photos a lot more difficult. To get the right results, you’ll have to paint a little on the source photo to get everything to line up properly (use the patch tool to get the textures right). Once it does, it should go very similarly to the other example.
There are an almost infinite number of potential angles (and subsequent problems), but if you do it enough, you’ll notice that porn photographers tend to gravitate to only a handful of photos and angles. Get good at those, and your work will improve significantly.
This one’s probably the most time consuming, and it requires the most familiarity with Photoshop because it uses a lot of different tools. The best advice I can give you is to simply play with the program. Use different tools. If you don’t know what something does, Google it. There are any number of tutorials online that can help you develop your skills.
But I digress. There’s more to making a believable facial transition than to simply slap one model’s face on another’s. That’s nice for a body transition, but it can get a little jarring if you don’t have (at least) a couple of facial transition steps between it. For that, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty.
Something as simple as adding eye makeup can drastically change the way we look at a person’s face, but you’ll also want to alter jawlines (using the liquify tool), remove beards (painting over the stubble), change eyebrows (import eyebrows from another model), etc. Basically, you’ll want to look at your “after” model’s face and try to mimic different features one photo at a time. It’s frustrating and tedious, and you’ll definitely abandon quite a few photos when you zoom out and the face looks like it belongs on a misshapen mutant, but you’ll get it right eventually. And if you can’t, just throw a surgery photo in there.
I think of putting the photos in order as my proto-outline. That’s when I really start thinking of actual plot points (beyond the general story idea). But there are a couple of things to remember:
- Break up the transformation stages. It’s almost impossible to create a gradual, believable transition from boy to girl. So, you’ll want to insert photos with different subjects between your transition shots. Use your secondary characters. Use establish shots. Just put a frame or two between your transitions.
- Again, this is porn, even if we strive to create something a little more artistic than the label implies. And as such, you should have scheduled action beats (action meaning sex or nudity). One in ten is a good ratio because it allows you to tell your story without it being completely overwhelmed by sex. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to do more. For instance, in a 100-frame story, I’ll usually have 10-12 frames with nudity and another 5-10 frames of pure sex.
- Keep your story in mind when ordering photos.
Alright, so you’ve got a good selection of photos ordered, a story idea in mind, and you’re ready to write. Not really. You’ve still got a good bit of work to do before you can even start writing your first frame.
For the longest time, I didn’t do character synopses. In fact, I didn’t even start listing my characters out until I was sort of forced to when I started doing commissions. But I have to tell you, doing detailed character synopses will really flesh out your characters.
Typically, I do a 3-5 paragraph synopsis of each major character (sometimes, the protagonist gets a bit more). This can cover the character’s personality, history, education, hobbies – whatever you think is important. You can do it in bullet form, or like me, as a short essay (it gets me in the writing frame of mind). Don’t stint on this step. If it’s difficult for you, you don’t have a real character yet. You’ve just got a prop for your story.
The reason I think this is such an important step is because it lets you call back to small details throughout your narrative. You can have two characters with a shared history refer to something from their past. Or a detail can contribute to your character’s motivation. It’s also nice to have your characters’ histories in one place so you can refer back to it.
Before you start writing your story, you’re going to have to figure out exactly what it is. So, to that end, write a 1-2 page plot synopsis. Cover your story beats. Make sure the idea you have has some depth to it. It’s not supposed to be detailed. This step is as much to gather your thoughts as it is to give the story structure.
Ah, the outline. I admit that I used to hate using them, and for the longest time, I refused. My first book was written without so much as a plot synopsis. I just sat down, and I wrote. And while it was acceptable, the plot meandered, and it wasn’t nearly as good as I wanted it to be. So, I started making outlines.
For my novels, the outlines are really, really detailed (the one for The Experiment was close to twenty pages long), but for the caption stories, my outlines are much simpler. Typically, I just title each frame, and let that function as an outline. That, combined with the aforementioned synopsis, keeps me on track.
Now you’re ready to write. Because of all your prep work, you should have a very good idea of how your story’s going to go, which will allow you focus on how you’re going to tell it.
The first decision you need to make when you start to write is which perspective to use. I tend to use either first-person or a limited third-person, but I’ve read stories omniscient and multiple third-person perspectives that worked quite well. The only perspective I don’t really like is second-person, but that’s just a personal preference. They perspectives (and their descriptions) are as follows:
- First-Person Perspective is written from the perspective of someone from the story (commonly the protagonist). First-person is the perspective I like the most, because it allows me to really get into the character’s personality, emotions, and thoughts. It also allows for the use of narrative devices that limit the knowledge of the reader.
- Second-Person Perspective is written from the point-of-view of the reader (you). It’s typically only used in instructional literature.
- Third-Person Perspective is used when the narrator is not a character in the story. Sometimes, the narrator is omniscient (nothing is hidden). Other times, it’s limited to the point-of-view of the protagonist (limiting the reader’s knowledge to that of the protagonist).
Incorporating Details from the Photos
In the interest of establishing continuity between the visual and literary aspects of a caption story, you need to get used to describing things from the photo. A simple description of a character’s outfit or a setting can go a long way to making the whole thing more realistic for the reader. It’s the major difference between writing a simple narrative and writing a caption story. It also subtly gives the writer a little more credibility with the reader. If you accurately describe something from the photo, the next time you write a description (of something offscreen), the reader will automatically grant your description credibility.
Your story will be comprised of mostly dialogue or descriptions of actions. I tend to focus on dialogue, mostly because it comes a lot easier for me, but it’s also because dialogue moves the story. When you describe an action, it should suck the reader in. If you do it too often (in detail), your reader will skim over it. But nobody ever skims dialogue. Put your character development there.
You have to have goals for what you want to accomplish. I work towards daily goals (15-20 frames per day, depending on if I’m ahead or behind in my writing schedule). But this is my job, and that takes somewhere between 8-12 hours per day. If this is a hobby, you’ll probably have a much smaller goal. Whatever it is (be it daily, weekly, or monthly), do your best to stick to it. But whatever happens, remember to write a little each day. You’ll be surprised how much you get done if you just, you know, do it.
No writer likes editing, but it's a necessary part of the process. Sometimes, there are frames that just don't need to be there to advance the story. And if those frames don't provide something else (a great photo is a good enough reason to keep them), then they need to go. It's also a good time to proofread. I definitely recommend Grammarly for that.
Putting it All Together
Framing is a lot easier than what you might think. Just follow these steps:
- Select a photo, then resize it to (approximately) 1200x1800 pixels. To do this, go to Image > Image Size.
- Once it's the right size, move it to a new document. I like to use a 14x14 inch canvas.
- Once it's on the new document, CTRL + Left-Click the photo's layer, which should select it. If it doesn't work, use your other left.
- Go to Select > Modify > Expand, which should bring up a window allowing you to specify how many pixels you want the current selection to expand. I typically do 45 pixels, and for the sake of this, I'm going to assume you will too.
- This is the only glitchy part. You'll probably notice that the corners are cut off. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to turn those diagonal corners into right angles (alt + drag).
- Create a new layer below the photo, then fill it (shift + F5). Use a dark color.
- Go to Select > Modify > Contract, which should pull up a window allowing you to specify how many pixels to contract (I typically use 15). Fill (shift + F5) with a lighter color. Repeat the contraction, then fill with a dark color. That should give you a dark, light, dark pattern.
- Select the photo (CTRL + Left-Click). Click the layer with the border. Hit your DELETE key.
- Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer.
- Drag the duplicated border (with the middle part deleted) to the side until it is parallel to the other.
- Merge the two borders by using SHIFT + Left-Click, then go to Layer > Merge Layers.
- CTRL + Left-Click to select the new, merged layer. You'll notice that there are cutouts in the selection. SHIFT + Drag with the marquee tool to make it a solid rectangle.
- Go to Select > Modify > Expand, and specify however many pixels you selected before, plus 15. For example, if you used my suggestion, it would be 45 + 15 = 60.
- Go to Image > Crop, which should resize the image to whatever you've selected.
- Go to Select > All (or CTRL + A).
- Go to the bottom layer (the background). Create a new layer. Fill that layer (SHIFT + F5) with your dark color. Then repeat the process you used to create the borders (step 7).
- CTRL + Left-Click your photo's layer.
- Select your background layer (the one you were working on in step 16). Hit DELETE, which will cut a hole out of the layer the size of the photo.
- Move the photo to the second lowest layer (just above the background).
- Merge all layers above it.
- Fill the bottom layer (SHIFT + F5) with a jarring color (I usually use neon green).
- Delete the photo's layer.
- Save as a Photoshop file (.PSD). It should be the default. Name it "Vertical".
- Rotate counter clockwise 90 degrees (Image > Image rotation > 90 Counter Clockwise). Save as a Photoshop File (.PSD). Name it "Horizontal".
- You should have two separate files now.
Don't be intimidated by all those steps. It doesn't really take long, and at this point, I can create a basic frame in about five minutes.
And there you have it. You've got a ready-made, pretty decent looking template frame. To insert the photos for the caption story, simply do the following:
- Open a Photo in Photoshop.
- Resize the image to be bigger than 1200x1800 (but as close as possible).
- Drag the photo into the appropriate spot on the template.
- Save as a JPEG. I use ascending numbers for the names (1,2,3,4,etc.).
I like to frame everything first, then add the text, but I suppose it’s not a big deal to finish each frame completely before moving on to the next. The way I do it just saves me time.
So, there you have it. That’s how I create my caption stories. I hope this helps any future (or current) captioneers. I’m self-taught, so a lot of the Photoshop stuff is probably doing things the long way around. It’s just how I learned, and I’ve made it work for me.