Working from Photos

Donna T

Well-known member
Messages
1,370
Tim, limited brush strokes would be a real challenge for me but you're right about no room for details. I'll have to try it along with a time limit too. Thanks!
 

RaquelB

Active member
Messages
32
Donna - Your comments about values reminded me what always helps me more than greyscale and PHShop, even though I don't handle a brush but coloured pencils!
Someone suggested removing your glasses, which was going to be my suggestion, but not feasible. But you can reduce the light instead. I look at my work with a dimmed light, maybe coming from another room? It tells a lot about the colour values...
Now I will look at your work! :love:
 

Donna T

Well-known member
Messages
1,370
I wish I could paint without my glasses, Raquel, but I am so near-sighted that I can't function without them. Dim light does help, especially with values. If it works in dim light that's usually a good sign, right? I don't know how to find someone's work here. I looked under my name but it pulls up everything I've commented on.
 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
Messages
1,931
I'm not sure where to post this but since I need help being creative here it is. I struggle with working from my reference photos and I'd like to know what tricks or tips you all can offer. So far I have converted photos to grayscale, worked with them upside down, and blurred them in Photoshop. My laptop is across the room so I can't see details and that helps a little. Somehow the stiffness of the photo still finds a way in. Maybe it's a lack of confidence or thinking that in order for something to look "real" it should look like the photo because photos are real ... wait, that's not true either ... :unsure: Thanks for any advice or thoughts on the subject.

What sort of subject matter are you attempting to draw from photographic references? I use photographic references all the time but I am not aiming for academic realism let alone photorealism. I filter the reference through my art artistic vision as much as I would when working from life. I work extensively with the human figure. In my most recent work, I even begin by projecting the photographic reference onto my working surface. I spend all of perhaps 10-minutes at this stage. My aim is to rapidly establish the proportions on the painting surface (I work very large). After I have done so, I work from the reference and from my own experience from years of life drawing. I am not at all interested in a painting that "looks like a photograph". I play with the contours and the gesture, exaggerating the anatomy and proportions as well as the color and mark-making. The color and setting in my works are almost wholly invented.

Honestly, I think it is best that an artist gain a good deal of experience in working from life before he or she begins working from photographs or imagination.

ps... I took a look at a number of your works and wonder where you feel you need to improve in working from photographs. If the works you have posted here used photographic references it isn't obvious (which is good IMO unless you are aiming for photorealism or an obviously photo-derived style). Your works... whether they be from phot references or from life... seem filtered through your own vision which is what I imagine we all aim for.
 
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ZenDruid

Supporting Member
Messages
465
You can click on her profile pic and it will take you to her profile page where you can find a link to her previous posts. That's one way to find some of her work. But she also this month's spotlighted artist!
One more note: For her pictures click on "Find all threads". If you click on "Find all content" that will give you every post and response she ever made. That confused me at first.
 

Enyaw

namuh
Messages
3,950
I'm not sure where to post this but since I need help being creative here it is. I struggle with working from my reference photos and I'd like to know what tricks or tips you all can offer.
... it all begins with the blockin. How much are you putting into a block in? ... or as tradesmen would say, the rough in.
 

Donna T

Well-known member
Messages
1,370
stlukesguild, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject and agree with you about the value of working from life whenever possible. There isn't an endless amount of time to create compositions or obsess over details when working from life - you just focus on the main event and get going. I'm not aiming for any kind of photorealism but always want to step away from the photo as much as possible while still maintaining some sense of the place. Your process of working from your own experience while taking what you need from a photo is what I'm looking for; filtering through my own vision, as you said. I just need to work harder at letting my own voice through instead of allowing the photo to be so dominant.

Thanks for explaining how to look up someone's work Ayin and Zen.

Wayne, good point about the block in. Work from the general to the specific. Paint the dog first and then the fleas. I know there are times when I paint "fleas" because the photo shows every one of them.
 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
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1,931
I just need to work harder at letting my own voice through instead of allowing the photo to be so dominant.

I had a professor in art school who suggested that after a certain point the reference material... whether it be your original idea, a real-life reference, or a photo reference... becomes less and less important, and the painting itself begins to dictate more. I've found this to be true. After I am into the painting so far, I find a rarely look at the references and no longer worry over how far I might be moving from the original idea. The painting takes on a life of its own... for better or worse.
 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
Messages
1,931
Work from the general to the specific. Paint the dog first and then the fleas. I know there are times when I paint "fleas" because the photo shows every one of them.

I had a teacher who once told me that if I were a builder I would be hanging the wallpaper and drapes before I had laid the foundation. The metaphor stuck with me. :LOL: :)
 

WFMartin

Well-known member
Messages
191
When I paint a portrait, I work from a series of progressively blurred photos. I think the "secret" here is that I don't merely work from only ONE, blurred photo, but from several, each having a lesser amount of blur. I begin with the photo containing the greatest blur, and gradually work my way through the photos containing less, and less blur. That way, I can stop at any step of the process, or just leave specific areas at one of the earlier stages of blur, while detailing the painting in specific areas, using the final, normal-focused photo as a reference. For painting portraits, I use absolutely NO drawing, whatsoever. No grid, no sketch, no "lines", whatsoever. I discovered the hard way that detailed preliminary drawings were profoundly handicapping my portrait painting. My first paint applied to the canvas is with a 1-inch brush.
 

Donna T

Well-known member
Messages
1,370
Thanks WFMartin; your method of working from a progression of blurred photos sounds very practical! I agree that detailed preliminary drawings are not helpful, and I don't even do portraits. Landscapes and portraits aren't all that different when it comes down to how light affects the planes and masses. We don't see lines around everything so it makes sense to paint closer to the way that our eyes see. Plus, I have a hard time painting outside the lines once I make them, as if they are set in stone. :rolleyes:
 

Sue

Well-known member
Messages
132
The idea of progressively blurred photos sounds helpful - but I have never used a photo editing programme and have no idea what to get that will do this. I've googled of course but come up with so many options I was lost in all the 'tech speak' that means very little to me.

So, any suggestions gratefully received. I'd prefer a free tool obviously but am open to buying if it is what I need.
 

Hermes2020

Well-known member
Messages
934
The idea of progressively blurred photos sounds helpful - but I have never used a photo editing programme and have no idea what to get that will do this. I've googled of course but come up with so many options I was lost in all the 'tech speak' that means very little to me.

So, any suggestions gratefully received. I'd prefer a free tool obviously but am open to buying if it is what I need.
Download the free version of Artweaver here

Artweaver Free

In my experience it is one of the better free graphics programs and is easier to use than Krita for simple jobs. It has a Gaussian blur filter that works well. I use it to superimpose an enlarging grid on my graphics.
 

Sue

Well-known member
Messages
132
Download the free version of Artweaver here

Artweaver Free

In my experience it is one of the better free graphics programs and is easier to use than Krita for simple jobs. It has a Gaussian blur filter that works well. I use it to superimpose an enlarging grid on my graphics.
Thanks Hermes, I'll have a look at that 👍
 
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