View Full Version : color when working from photographs

07-11-1999, 02:54 PM
Do to inaccessability I have been using photos to compose large scale multifigure compositions for paintings.. Apart from biulding a strong monochromatic underpainting i have not developed a solid working method to help me with color( do to lack of information in the photos).. Any tips would be appreciated

07-15-1999, 03:00 AM
As you already know, the photos tend to lose the color information in the light and dark areas. You just see black instead of the true colors of the shadows. (Although most artists seem to prefer making their shadows richer in color than what you see in real life.)

07-15-1999, 01:15 PM
Here are some paintings I did at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/5286/GalleryTwo.html
Two of them ("Adam" & "Katie") were done from horrible photographs. My reference shots for "Adam" were really underexposed and blurry (since I only had 200 ISO film and did not use a flash would for it destroys all shadows and form) but my life painting experience helped a lot in extrapolating details from the photos.

Cindy Aucoin
07-15-1999, 04:34 PM

I could not find your webpage,
please e:Mail me at
[email protected]
I would really like to see the artwork. I am currently working with a photograph and your comments made me realize one of my problems.
thanks, Cindy

07-15-1999, 10:30 PM
thankyou for your input. it is very helpful

07-16-1999, 12:56 AM
As an illustrator, I have to make intelligent use of reference material, photographic or not. If you lack color information from bad photos, try finding other photos from a picture library or stock photography annual that has values and colors to your liking. (I don't know where you're located, but the Mid-Manhattan library has a huge picture file, for example). Since you have all your values down already, be careful not to go straight to black, as that is a signature of a photo that detracts from good painting. Also do not mix hues with black or umbers, as that will muddy up the paint. To attain nuetrals, or darker values, try mixing complements, or mixtures like burnt sienna + blue (cobalt, ultramarin, or cerulean work well), alizaron crimson+gold ochre or cad green light, all of which work well with any pigment with white in it, and will remain vibrant while achieving the desired value. Take a look at how Burt Silverman handles his paintings, as he also uses photographs. Hope this helps!

07-16-1999, 04:54 PM
Here is the correct address to see some of my work: www.geocities.com/athens/styx/5286

Please note that this is not my homepage, but a friend's, who was kind enough to post my images up on her site. Any questions or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

07-30-1999, 04:33 PM
Dang! James can paint, yessir.

I'm trying to bust loose of #2 pencil into color. Not easy, the variables are staggering. For a first go I'm trying to take a pencil portrait done last year onto a larger canvas and into oils. It's originally sketched from a photo of a friend when she was little. I'm having a hell of a time with a black child's skintones. The original photo was color, but faded and blurry. Any suggestions?

Also, I have the "sketches of Clyde, 1 & 2" over in the learning gallery.

"Don't draw and drive!"

07-31-1999, 09:16 AM
I take my color photos to Kinkos and have good black and white zeroxes made of them, one usually enlarged. more important than accurate color is value and temperature. the black and white photo help with value, color temperature is learned from working from life and then applying the knowledge over into working from a photo.. hard