Behind the Scenes with Cinemagraph Artist Ashraful Arefin

March 4, 2020

There’s something about the magic of a cinemagraph. It could be the juxtaposition of still versus moving elements, or even the subject matter of the cinemagraph itself. But after chatting with fine art photographer Ashraful Arefin, we found that the real magic lies within the process.

In this interview, Ashraful talks inspiration, how to capture the perfect cinemagraph, and hidden meanings within his work:


What led you to become a photographer and what roles (creative or not) led you to where you are currently?

I was always interested in fine arts and wanted to be an artist from my childhood. I got my first camera back in 2012 when I was a second-year student of fine arts. The purpose was to take high-res images of my artworks. At the time, I was trying to be a better artist, but I was never satisfied with my work. I was so concerned with getting everything right and pursuing perfection that I became frustrated and bored. I took a break from my usual works and started to take photos. That really changed everything. Photography totally opened my eyes and heart and made me realize how beautiful the world and my surroundings are with all their imperfections. I realized that in order to create something beautiful, you don’t really need the most beautiful subject or places or expensive gear. You just need to change your perspective and look at things with a fresh mind, and that can turn even the most mundane object into something magical. This thought really inspired me, not just as a creative, but also as a human being finding happiness in the simple things in life.

How did you discover cinemagraphs? 

The inspiration for my cinemagraphs came from the living paintings of Harry Potter. Later I saw some cinemagraphs on the web and got absolutely mesmerized by this new media. I searched for tutorials on YouTube and learned the basics and from there, I started experimenting with my own ideas.

Behind The scene

What inspires your cinemagraph concepts?

I am a big fan of fantasy novels, fairy tales and Harry Potter movies so they work as great sources of inspiration for me. I try to find ways to add magical elements to everyday moments. I feel like cinemagraphs really allow me to be that crazy inner wizard.

Please explain your process in creating a cinemagraph.

I always start with a clear concept in my mind. I used to work spontaneously when I started creating cinemagraphs, but now it’s very elaborate and planned out. Usually I start by doing a sketch of the scene I am about to create. I try to sketch and write down every detail; the lighting, which part should move, the colors and any other details I can think of. This really helps me concentrate on what I want from the shoot and saves a lot of time. For cinemagraphs, it’s always a good idea to decide where there will be movement and where the image should stay still.

Once I am sure about what I want to create, I set up the props. A tripod is a must when creating cinemagraphs. The camera needs to stay completely stable. Once everything is settled, it doesn’t take much time to shoot. Most of the time I need about 30 seconds of video footage to create a cinemagraph.

Once I have my footage, I take it to Photoshop and create an endless loop by matching the first and last frame of the footage. Then I create a still frame from the footage and place it on top of the video as a layer and remove the parts where I want the motion to be visible. Finally, I finish it off with some color grading.


Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages within your work?

I try to! I tend to use old, used and broken objects in my images. They already have a history of their own. My inspiration has always been finding beauty in simple things and in their imperfections. I try to express that through the subjects I use. For example, I often use old, beat up miniature toy cars. For me, the rust and dents are symbols of strength and a journey in life.

If you could live in the world of one of your cinemagraphs, which one would you choose? Why?

Oh, how I wish I could live in one of those! I think the owl and levitating pen one, as I am obsessed with owls and would love to have one as a companion. Also, I wish I had magical powers like making objects levitate. Then I wouldn’t need to spend hours using software haha!

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Well besides my camera and lens, the continuous LED lights I have been using are very handy and a great part of my studio. Since editing and post processing is a huge part of my workflow, I also can’t live without my Intuos pro. I do a lot of image compositing, especially for cinemagraphs. My Intuos pro makes it super easy to work with all those tiny, little details.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?

I would say just like any other field, the first thing you need to have is passion and love for what you are doing. You need to follow your heart and create what you really love without thinking about anyone’s opinions. As for still life photography, learning about symbolism and building concepts is key because you are storytelling with inanimate objects. There are stories in everything, and every object has a connection with human emotion. Having a clear concept about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it is imperative when forming ideas.

To see more of Ashraful’s cinemagraphs, follow him on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

To visit Ashraful’s website, click here.

Related posts:

Omar Gomet’s character design process — and insight into his creative career

Omar Gomet’s character design process — and insight into his creative career

Cheer up with Jacqueline Chen, also known as Chibird

Cheer up with Jacqueline Chen, also known as Chibird

The ultimate guide to cutting out images in Photoshop, with School of Motion

The ultimate guide to cutting out images in Photoshop, with School of Motion

How to draw a bird, with Monika Zagrobelna

How to draw a bird, with Monika Zagrobelna

Connect with Wacom on social media

🎉 Manga friends, save the date! We’re thrilled to be at @dokomi_expo 2024 this June! ✨

Join us at the Wacom booth for 3 days of fun activities:

🖌️ Art Battles to showcase your creative skills!

🔥 Exclusive presentations with Wacom’s CEO Nobu Ide and Celsys’ CEO Kei Narushima!

🤝🏻 Meet and greet with Connected Ink Village artist Ktym from Japan (@yuki_ktym_ )

🌟 Try our latest tech with click & collect on site!

📅 28 - 30 June 2024
📍 Düsseldorf, Germany
✍🏻 Booth# > Halle 3, Artist Alley

See you there! 🌟

#WacomAtDokomi #Dokomi2024
1132 6
We asked character designer @omarsharif.creates to share part of his process. Check out his reference mix and how much fun he has experimenting with textures and colors. ⁣
Head to the #WacomBlog to read our interview with Omar! ⁣
Link in bio!⁣⁣
#wacom #characterdesign #digitalart #artprocess #madewithwacom #wacomcintiqpro #cintiqpro ⁣
234 7
See you in Berlin!💫 Come celebrate with us at @weareplaygrounds this weekend!

💡 Explore artist discussions, demonstrations, film showings interactive live sketching!

✍️ Visit our Wacom booth to experience and enjoy drawing on our latest pen-displays and tablets and some other surprises 👀

📅 Berlin, DE on May 25th-26th

See you there!

#TADBerlin #CreativeCommunity
104 6
A magical midnight forest... 🌲🌙🦉🎨🖌️⁣
That's what @yingshiart was conjuring in this amazing piece #MadeWithWacom. Tayler loves using color to evoke emotion and fullness in her paintings, and liberally uses adjustment layers, filters, and gradient maps. She trusts the creative process and lets go, allowing the subconscious to put one hand on the wheel instead of micromanaging every detail. ⁣
Do you trust your creative process? ⁣
#WacomOne #digitalillustration #moodpainting #environmentdesign
1026 15
Easy to pack & ready to go! 🏃🏻‍♂️

🆕 The new Wacom Movink easily fits in any bag and can be set up anywhere with a single cable. The best solution for creative professionals on the go!

Wanna get yours? Follow the link in our bio!

414 7
Dive into the insightful first look of the NEW Wacom Movink by @wieger_poutsma, Digital Artist and Creative Director, working for clients like Netflix, Warner Bros, HBO and many more. 💻 🙌🏻

👉🏻 Follow the link in bio to discover all the benefits of our NEW Wacom Movink and shop yours!

#WacomMovink #CreativeProfessionals #CreativesOnTheGo
295 12
You got this! ✍️ Never stop creating. 🤘⁣
Animation made by the wonderful @javadoodles⁣
#MentalHealthAwareness #madewithwacom #TVPaintAnimation⁣
760 24
🆕 Alex Wätzel @dgtlcraft_postproduction , High-end photo retoucher & video editor with years of experience on the creative industry, also tried the NEW Wacom Movink!

Now’s your turn! Follow the link in our bio and discover all the amazing benefits of our new Wacom Movink💥


#WacomMovink #CreativeProfessionals #CreativesOnTheGo #MovinkMakers
169 4
Mental health awareness month is upon us and we want to give a shout-out to anyone out there struggling, yet creating. ⁣
We see you and you're absolutely wonderful. 😍⁣
Art by @chibirdart 🐤💓⁣
#MentalHealthAwareness #webcomic #comic #webtoon
833 10