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View Full Version : 1)Reference Photos... BW or Color: and 2) Portrait looks wrong from distance


Armadillobelly
03-06-2018, 07:08 PM
This may have been asked before but I couldn't find anything by searching, so here goes:

When painting from a reference photo is it better to convert the photo to black and white so that color doesn't get in the way? What's your approach to this?

cliff.kachinske
03-06-2018, 08:06 PM
I have made many paintings from B&W references. Some among my personal favorites.

Matching colors, to me, is tedium at its most tedious. I would much rather use colors in other ways.

contumacious
03-06-2018, 08:08 PM
I do both though I rarely paint from the black and white image. I also will sometimes do a "posterization" that will break the image down into a range of 4 to 6 gray values to help me see the various shapes.

It seems like the more I paint the less I need this type of visual help but with some images I am glad to have it. One thing I have not mastered is adding color to a photo that was originally black and white with no color references at all, be it in Photoshop or on the painting.

Armadillobelly
03-07-2018, 07:08 AM
Okay, this is a weird question. I've been working on a painting from a photo. I transferred the drawing using a grid and blocked it in. It's quite accurate. From close up, the likeness is good. However after stepping a couple of meters back, the likeness disappears, and the face becomes something like a skeleton or an alien. Get close again and the effect disappears and you see the likeness again. what's going on here? I suspect it has something to do with the value range? The fact that the reference is printed small using a cheap inkjet on copy paper might have something to do with this too. I keep overworking this thing trying to figure out what's going on and I already gessoed over this painting twice. I'm starting over a third time since at this point it's a personal challenge to get this thing right. Anyone else had this happen to them? Do you know what I'm talking about?

tiago.dagostini
03-07-2018, 08:02 AM
Might be easier to understand if you post a picture. I have something in my mind, but without seeing an image would be the same as an oncologist making a diagnose by telephone.

talisman
03-07-2018, 09:29 AM
I agree post two photos, one close up and one far away.
That way we could see the effect.

talisman
03-07-2018, 09:31 AM
I've worked both ways, and both have pros and cons.

Armadillobelly
03-07-2018, 09:32 AM
It's gessoed over! I posted in case this is a known problem and if anyone knows what usually causes it to happen. I'm going to try again.

LavenderFrost
03-07-2018, 10:29 AM
I'm usually going for realism so I like to have a colour reference. But I'm rarely trying to match colours exactly, it's just to help me choose the colours.

cliff.kachinske
03-07-2018, 10:34 AM
If the values of two adjacent shapes are too close, the edge between them vanishes at a distance.

I learned this at the expense of a couple of hours painting brightly lit branches against a cloudless patch of sky. When I stepped away from the painting they would disappear. Same branches against a dark cloud were perfectly visible.

The close view/distant view issue is not simple. In David Hockney's Secret Knowledge book he shows a highly detailed image by Caravaggio next to a much looser painting by Cezanne. Up close, the Caravaggio is gorgeous. Move back a few feet and Caravaggio's details fade while Cezanne's fruit comes to life. How this works I do not know.

I witnessed this effect myself looking at a little Cezanne in New York's Guggenheim museum. Up close it was dull and lifeless but viewed from the other side of the museum it was awesome.

Charlie's Mum
03-07-2018, 10:40 AM
Armadillobelly - I've merged your two threads as we have a forum rule of one thread per 24 hours.:)

I have edited your title to reflect two questions.:)

tiago.dagostini
03-07-2018, 12:08 PM
If the values of two adjacent shapes are too close, the edge between them vanishes at a distance.

I learned this at the expense of a couple of hours painting brightly lit branches against a cloudless patch of sky. When I stepped away from the painting they would disappear. Same branches against a dark cloud were perfectly visible.

The close view/distant view issue is not simple. In David Hockney's Secret Knowledge book he shows a highly detailed image by Caravaggio next to a much looser painting by Cezanne. Up close, the Caravaggio is gorgeous. Move back a few feet and Caravaggio's details fade while Cezanne's fruit comes to life. How this works I do not know.

I witnessed this effect myself looking at a little Cezanne in New York's Guggenheim museum. Up close it was dull and lifeless but viewed from the other side of the museum it was awesome.

That OR his likeness was built from details not from the main structure of the face. When we evaluate a face our brain is hardwired to check for specific things at specific distances. So when at close range your brain focus on the eyes distance, eyes shape and nose shape. When you are further away your brain automatically focus on the jaw shape, ear angle, forehead size and nose size.

So you can have a precise picture for one range but not very precise for other.

Dcam
03-07-2018, 01:04 PM
There is nothing like a good monitor for reference.
Black and white or color. Shows more nuances. Even a large tablet image is better than a photograph.