View Full Version : Portrait of Albert

08-06-2002, 10:48 PM


Title: Portrait of Albert
Year Created: 2002
Medium: Digital
Surface: Computer
Dimension: 14x18x100dpi
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is a digital illustration done in Photoshop by building up layers as ome would do with traditional oils. No panting imitating filters used.

I'm a bit concerned about the background being to busy, Any other suggestions to improve this work?

08-07-2002, 07:44 AM
Hm, I don't know if it is too busy, but there is perhaps a bit too much contrast, and high value in the background. As a suggestion just tone the right side down a bit.

There is also a darker outline around the face that I would make less noticable.

Other than that, I think this is very good. Portrait experts may have more details to point out.

08-07-2002, 09:49 AM
I do not find the background too busy. There is great strength of compostion and contrast through out, and the foreground holds it's own very well. I find nothing about the original I would change.
I would like to know if you began with a photographic image and built upon it, or if you used a photo reference, but started with a blank screen. :)

08-08-2002, 12:37 PM
Thank you for your comments and efforts at explaining you points. As a part of my vision I tend to want to separate my subjects from the background by use of dark areas or accual lines. I find this pulls the viewer further away from associating the image with a photograph. This particlar image was developed from a small protion of a photo of a group of people at a party I attended some years ago.

By way of explaination of my technique, the following is a compilations of various post that I've pulled together so you don't have to run all over this sight for an explanation of my technique. Excuse me, in advance, if you have already read much of this.)

This painting was produced on a Mac 266mhz G3 with dual 19" monitors, (one monitor for the image and another for the various pallets necessary) using Photoshop. This painting is the latest in a long frustrating journey trying to bend the will of this electronic tool to the needs of a painter/illustrator. This frustration came with the early use of filters that mimic various painting medium and techniques. After experimenting ad nauseam with these filters I came to the realization that in the end it always looked like the painting was just a sketch or photo put through a series of filters. So for the past three years I have not used filters on my digital work.

What I do is build up layers as one would do with traditional oil or acrylic painting. My major tool, which gets extensive use, is the smudge tool using custom brushes (set at various levels of pressure or as I call it "wetness" because I do not use a tablet, I use a mouse). I work from a sketch or underpainting composed from drawings and/or photos places on the base layer which I use as the trace layer. I apply a color chosen from the original composited sketch or photo pallet on subsequent layers and smudge the color around until it looks right. I use brush strokes as I imagine John Singer Sargent would, and let the stroke or few strokes represent and define objects such as a tree in the case of a landscape or eye & eyebrow area in the case of a portrait. I can also work in a wet-on-wet method creating and blending strokes into each other, but prefer working in layers. When a series of layers looks correct (as many as 40 layers, but generally 10 or so) I will merge them and start a new series of layers. By working on layers I am able to keep from disturbing color and brushwork that has already been established to my satisfaction. If I find a lower layer needs adjustments, I simply correct that layer. As the piece nears completion, I have found I have much more control over color, hue and saturation and use those as "sweeteners" to add final touches that make a painting sing. As I said, I don't use a tablet or trackball. I'm an old dog and new tricks come hard. I use to spend a lot of money on the latest whizbang new drawing tool and found the learning curve too difficult to get the needed eye-hand coordination. I have a life (a busy life) and anything that makes it more difficult and less efficient is not tolerated.

In the beginning, this digital painting technique was indeed a challenge. As I have been developing my skill I have found this media much more malleable than either acrylics or oils. The ability to paint without concern for drying time (either to fast or too slow) is attractive. Lately, as I work though the process and have become more comfortable and proficient with the tools and techniques, it has become a very fast way to achieve a satisfying painterly artwork. Endless possibilities are certainly an important part of it. The ability to experiment and then easily backup is very seductive. I see the computer more as tool rather than a new medium, probably because I come to it from a graphic design background.

There are practical reasons also. As a graphic designer/Illustrator, I like it that painting on the computer cuts out a couple of steps that degrade the quality of an image, that of copy photographing a canvas and the color separation and color correction process. Really good color separations are hard to get in today's market, unless your dealing with a superior printer who takes pride in their work and has in-house capabilities. Even then you have to retouch out the spectral highlights that show up in textured areas when conventional paintings are photographed and separated. Not to mention, I can choose the final size of the painting later and I don't have to find a place to store all those unsold canvases.

Mike Swaine