Monday, May 30, 2011

Blog10 Part 1: Art Programs to use when painting  photos

 NUMBER ONE  The first program I use to create my paintings is Photoshop. (CS5 at the moment).  All content changes are made there.  All telephone poles go...all flowers multiply...all skies become interesting.  I try to make a good photograph.
NUMBER TWO  To start to eliminate detail from a photo so it will make a good painting, I use the plugin Topaz Labs\Topaz Simplify 3 from

Here is the Original Photo... Below is the version AFTER Photoshop removed the basketball hoop AND the Topaz plugin eliminated some details.
NUMBER THREE   I then reach out to the internet for a great tool for harmonizing colors.  Here's how I use it:
     In Photoshop, choose a dominate color in the picture with the eyedropper and enter the color picker. Copy the hexadecimal number (Ex: da8860) and enter Color Scheme Designer...paste in the box "Enter the RGB Value".  Suddenly you are privy to LOTS of information and it's all free!  This program gives you a complement, triad, tetrad etc.  I usually choose triad.  I do Printscreen and save the file in photoshop as  colors.psd. This is a great GUIDE to the color palette for this picture...nothing exact...just a quide.  It does tell me only my blue needs a color shift.
In Corel Painter I will make a palette from this colorset for my image.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blog 9 What size to make a painting...what dpi

      I always make every image a 16X22 which can be printed 22X30 or 30X40.  The edges of paintings often contain vital information which you DON'T want to lose by changing the aspect ratio.  You can often crop and squeeze a photo without damaging the intent.  A Painting?  Not so much.
     Also it pays to work in the same aspect ratio.  As you grow in painting skills, your work begins to come alive.  Sometimes you want to rip off the earlier canvas and replace it with your new masterpiece.  If all paintings are the same aspect ratio (in my case 16X22)...this will be an easy task.
     I generally make my paintings 180DPI at 16X22.  I have worked as low as 100 dpi and as high as 240dpi.  The reasons for this are:
     1. Canvas is not much improved by higher dpi AND paintings  (at least mine) go to canvas.
     2. Higher dpi slows the computer down too much.  Save the details for photos.  A photo can lose 50% details and still provide ample information for a interesting painting.
     Here is a gallery with both painting and photo to provide a taste of Montana scenery.    You can see that detailed images are best in straight photographic format.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog 8 Save IMPORTANT files...not just the painting

As you can see,  I like to start telling the story of painting with some global issues.  It will be a while before the first stroke is made.  Digital Painting is no different than "wet painting" in that you have to gather supplies, lighting, brushes, cleaning techniques... neither is a sport that can be done without preparation.
     One of the most important things is to decide WHAT files to save and WHERE to save them.
     About WHERE...always save your files in Two places.  Believe me "XZ!!X" happens and you will be glad your paintings are still  able to be found.  I back up my computer once a week with Acronis.  It takes a LONG time because it writes the entire drive structure.  "I do's it the way I see's it!"  could be their motto.

About WHAT...Here are the saved files for a picture in this gallery...    
 Always save the brush guide.  

Always save the original in the exact shape and size of your painting. Why?
2 reasons: Backflowing 10% of the original sometimes enhances the painting AND
Sometimes a client loves the painting BUT wants the true photographic look.

Texture can be tricky so save the NONtextured Version too. (in case you need to redo)  Here's the final image and the texture used applied.

Yes, that's a total of 4!  A brush guide, an original and two versions of the painting. Tell me what you think of my choice of "IMPORTANT"  files? 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Blog 7 Save your brush details...a weird way...but it works!

 Let me repeat "I experiment with brushes until I settle on one best for the area. I then record the settings for that brush INCLUDING all the numbers in the property bar.  It just isn't good enough to only remember which brush is used...size matters!!"
     I paint photorealism with a twist.  For those of us who are computer photo painters (instead of primarily wet paint artists) the digital brushes you use are your life blood.  Here is an early Brush Guide...when I first started making guides.
Notice... at the time... I didn't write the entire property bar code on the brush guide.  Although the name of the brush was helpful, I soon took the process 1 step farther.  "BUT BUT  you say...can't you save a variant of the brush you used? Why bother with an entire brush guide for each picture??"   Here's why:
    1. Brush size matters.  A small brush has an entirely different effect on a painting than the same brush at a larger size.  Brush guides remember for you.
    2.  A brush may be great for a sky on this picture but painting a Seal belly may be your next picture.  You want to remember not just the brush but where you used it.  Soon you have 16 Grass brushes...some for the hillside...others for a watery area...others for a lawn.  Brush guides remember for you.
    3. Once you've committed your painting to canvas and LOOKED at may see you've missed spots or want to clone an ugly part of the picture away by using a different part of the picture.  But  touchups need the same brush to blend the old and new together. Brush guides remember for you.
    4. Finally, some photo painters, I'm told,  put TIME gaps between one painting and the next.  A brush guide for your last picture will help you start your next picture a month later.
Brush guides remember for you.
     Here's a link to the finished Arched Bridge image among others in that gallery:

Please let me know if anyone else makes a brush guide like this.  I'd love to look them up!