When I was in college, there was a period of about three months where my room was referred to as the UFO Den. Me and my buddy went deep into the rabbit hole of exploring the possibility of alien life, having long discussions about witness interviews and pausing YouTube videos in search of proof. On the wall, there was that famous X-Files poster of a flying saucer with the words “I WANT TO BELIEVE.”
I still think about that poster, because it’s an exciting thought to look at a UFO and seriously ask yourself the absurd question, “what if this is real?” What if in that pile of hoaxed UFOs, there is just one real photo that we all brushed off?
Now, I no longer believe, and it’s only becoming clearer every year just how easy it is to create a convincing hoax. A few pots and pans are all it takes to haunt the imaginations of millions, and as a PicsArt writer, I’m in a unique position to take up that challenge in a literal sense.
In honor of World UFO Day, I am hoaxing UFOs today with PicsArt, and here are my supplies:
For my base, I searched the app for #FreeToEdit landscapes with open skies. The potted plant and bottle caps were a stretch, but hold your horses, some of these edits exceeded expectations. The real star of the show, though, was the golden jar lid.
1. The Bare Bones Approach
After erasing the surrounding background in Draw, I imported my golden jar lid using the Add Photo Tool, and my satisfaction was instant. After flattening it out a little and fading the opacity a touch, the result was surprisingly passable. I was off to an encouraging start.
2. The Laser Trail
I wanted to get a little fancier, so I started to think about a way to give my jar lid some speed. Lens Flares popped into mind. By stretching out a red Lens Flare, I connected my flying saucer to its surrounding environment with a scorching hot trail through the sky. Still, I started to feel more like Steven Spielberg than an eyewitness. Though it looked cool, this would never have cut the mustard in the UFO Den. Too much style to be real.
3. The Shadow & the Silver Bowl
When I dropped the silver bowl into this photo, there was potential, but the lighting gave away the game. Most of this sunset landscape is under a dark shadow, but my saucer was bright all around like it was midday. To fix this, I used the Adjust Tool in the Editor to darken my saucer by playing with brightness, shadows and contrast. I then used the Eraser Tool to remove the shadow on the right side where the sky was brightest. When I imported it back into my shot, everything fell into place.
4. Switching to Flares
After a while of fiddling with the potted plant, I realized that it was a terrible choice for a UFO, and that I had already scratched my curiosity with the lid and bowl. But the Lens Flare still had my attention. I pulled up a nighttime photo and threw in a flare with multiple flash points on it. It didn’t just look good, it looked awesome. In one swoop, I had created an image fit for an evidence locker. Hoax accomplished.
5. Attack of the Bottle Caps
Feeling like I debunked UFOs once and for all, I was ready to chalk up this exercise as a victory for skepticism, but I was having too much fun and I had still had those bottle caps. I added a couple of red lasers with Draw and strategically painted on the Sunny Effect to create a brush fire, and I had my favorite edit of the day. The attack of the bottle caps.
6. Final Thoughts
Though my hoaxing career only lasted a couple of hours, I’m pretty proud of it. To grab a few kitchen supplies with the goal of turning them into alien spaceships, and then getting results that look close enough to the real deal was a satisfying payoff. Most importantly, it felt good to look at my own photos and ask myself, what if that was real? Funnily enough, the feeling is the same whether I believe in it or know it’s totally fake. It’s still exciting to wonder, what if?
Do you want to believe? Hoax a UFO with PicsArt photo editor and tag it with #UFOHoax to share.