So we have been out taking reference photographs…..
One thing I forgot to mention is that your photographs need not only be of complete compositions. Your photos can be of particular skies, trees, water, a field, whatever, because the great thing about painting is that you can mix and match different photographs to make a single image. Just remember to consider the direction of your light!
OK, back to the business of editing your photos….
I have nearly 100 photos sitting in front of me in my File Browser in Photoshop. You can find this by going into File>Browse… and selecting the folder where you uploaded your shots. Nine times out of ten you will find you need to alter an image to get the right composition, contrast, or colour.
It was my intention to make this particular painting a 16×20, so I selected my Rectangular Marquee tool and set it to ‘Fixed Aspect Ratio’, in this case 4/5. This will help me to crop the image and set up my composition at the same dimensions (relative) as my canvas. I slide around the ‘marching ants’ (what we call the visible selection) until the image is framed the way I like it. Then Image>Crop. I ended up selecting a portrait version of my subject and my photo is ready for adjusting.
I find that the digital screen on my camera is difficult to gauge on a bright sunny day and that I sometimes come home with images that are slightly underexposed for details in the shadows. To lighten the image ever so slightly, I go into Images>Adjustments>Curves… and select a point on the graph (see below) and drag it up slightly until I am happy. To darken, go in the opposite direction.
Something else I like to do to bring out the more subtle colours in an image is to saturate the colours slightly more than reality. That is done with Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. Have fun and experiment – you can often get great ideas from trying unusual settings.
There are a number of ways to adjust your images in this part of Photoshop and I would suggest you play around until you understand how it works and what you can do to help support your painting process. Filters are another fun way to play with and even simplify your images. The Rubber stamp tool can move elements around your image – you might decide that a rock is in the wrong place. Photoshop is a wonderful tool.
Once I have my photograph the way I want it, I print it out generally 8×10 or 4×6. Now there are a couple of reasons why I might use one size or the other. It often relates to the amount of drawing required. I still produce thumbnail sketches of my photo to see the composition simplified and see if there is anything else I might want to change before continuing on. The more perspective required, the more difficult it can be to draw accurately. I have a ‘grid’ card that breaks a 4×6 image into blocks and can help with these more difficult drawings. If an image has a lot of detail, then the larger print makes it easier to see. One thing a teacher of mine always said to me, no matter what your style of painting, how tight or loose your brushwork, the success of a painting can be greatly affected by how well or how poor the drawing is.
Once my image is done, I do a final full size drawing of the image and transfer it to the pre-prepared canvas. Now it is time to paint!
Next time… We will look at how to solve the various problems that might come up during the painting process when using photographs and have a look at the final painting…. Painting from Photographs – III