Wednesday, December 04, 2013

PhotoProject :: Dipping a paint brush into a photo

alvin dipping his paint brush into a photo I’m really not sure where I saw it described this way, perhaps it was an advert for a webinar or maybe a Corel or Wacom promotion, but I like the idea of being able to dip my paint brush into a photo and come up with something original. Not yet another corny “art” filter style process that produces a fairly unconvincing and “distressed” faux art/photo image. I’m not totally against these, when used with constraint they can produce some wonderful work, but the reality is they get overused without much thought and specific effects tend to come and go out of fashion quickly. What I have been looking for is something that lets you leave your own marks but at the same time borrows heavily from the colour and perhaps composition of the photo. An interpretation of the essence of the photo’s subject not a slavish representation of all the detail. I have been using corel painter essential with a wacom tablet for a couple of years and like them but for this project I thought I might try out the new Painter Lite from Corel.(you can download a 15 day free trial) I was primarily interested in any new brushes and changes to the colour mixing panel.
Original Photo Using the clone to remove distracting detail Simplified reference photo
After selecting a suitable photo I used the clone tool in Corel Photo Paint, but any software with a clone tool will do, to remove a few unnecessary details (eg all the people other than the guy sailing the yacht). I also extended the canvas, using the sky colour and smeared the edges a little.
Example of the Corel Painter Lite screens
Rather than directly altering the photo I first loaded my photo into the canvas and then created a new custom colour mix panel using the eye dropper on the image and the brush in the mix palette. Note I have taken a range oF colours and tones from the sky, water and sand and a few colours from the sails, boat hull and channel marker buoy. I have also mixed the colours a little. So there is a limit palette of colours mixed on my palette much like any artist might. Next I created a new layer and did a very rough composition sketch with a few key lines. This is just a guide for my painting and I will delete this layer later. Next is the fun bit I created another new layer between my canvas and the sketch layer and  using the gouache and target brushes to infill my sketch lines using the colours from the new mix panel to create a fairly strong underpainting. As you paint on this layer it becomes opaque hiding the photo underneath. I experimented with turning the canvas layer on and off and ended up liking the idea of having the photo open in a separate window as on onscreen reference rather than checking the underlying image on the canvas. Storing the image at this point as a ..riff file will store all the layers and setting. Next I turned off the guide sketch layer, Then I zoomed in blended and refined the image a little using the “wet” watercolour brushes and touched up the detail using a variety of smaller brushes and my custom colour mix, resisting the urge to overwork things too much. I also tried to delete the canvas layer but found I could not.  However if I saved the image as a .jpeg it only saved the layers I had selected as visible.
Preliminary Underpainting LayerFinal Refinements
There are probably many other variants of this approach out there in corel and other packages but I was rather pleased with my results and the simplicity of the method.

Here is quiet a different take on painting onto a photo, again using Painter Lite, but this time the artist Claudia Salguero is using distortion tools rather than “digital” paint or ink.

I’m starting to think that this dipping a brush into a photo has enormous possibilities, with the potential to create good art rather than just another clone faux photo,
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