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Digital Editing

An Advantage and Means for Painting Strategy 

Why would digital applications be listed on this site as a tool v/s a medium of it’s own. Their is no reason to view it as disregarding digital use entirely from creativity for you are most likely well aware that  there are many benefits in that respect. However, this site is  focused primarily about the physical task of painting. Starting out lets assume an artist has been out in the field taking reference photos for his/her next project and is in the process of planning his next painting. Although the original objective of this website is to provide detailed  information about the application of the traditional use of paint in art, there are certain  advantages for the artist that edits his reference photos digitally before starting his work.

Most artists can visualize their intended objective for a painting but sometimes discover that the final result of the composition when completed is not exactly what was originally planned. Using digital software to outline a drawing  or painting (replacing the sketchbook if you will) previous to application on canvas provides the advantage of examining your work making important calculations previous starting saving a considerable amount of time, materials & money. Because image-editing tools enable you to modify or augment a composition after the photo is taken, by digitally editing you can successfully plan your next painting by:

Zooming in and cropping | Modifying Composition | Combining photos/additional objects to the Composition | Altering the perspective | Manipulating light and shade | Adjusting color and tonal values  | Adding interest with texture and brush strokes

 Landscape Examples | Figure Art Examples | Perspective Examples

Zooming in and cropping 

One of the first obvious advantages is the ability to zoom into areas of importance of the subject to be painted. This can be as part of arranging the composition or to enlarge segments of subjects selected for your painting.

Cropping  determines the outside perimeter of your painting, a method used to eliminate undesired or distractive objects from the composition.

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Modifying Composition

This is the most important of all assets with digital editing. Before the computer, an artist would have to depend on his/her creative skills entirely to create the components of a painting making preliminary sketches from sittings, or painting rough plein air landscapes (weather permitting) that could be competed in the studio until each segment of a painting fell into place. When painting from a photo to attract attention the photo almost had to be a work of art itself. Now an artist can create every possible alteration and see the results of his/her concept before even lifting a brush.

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Combining photos/additional objects to the Composition

Sometimes you will find a subject that would be much more interesting placed in a different background environment. Sometimes an additional subject is not desired. These decisions can be much quicker and accurate than by traditional means of rendering. Anything can be added or removed to scale to provide a satisfactory preview of your visualization.

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Altering the perspective

Aerial perspective can be changed easily via color balance tools or by first masking the area to be changed and the changing the colors specified in the mask. The blur tool can also be used for background masks to promote focus on the foreground or subject.

Linear perspective can be altered by cutting out the subject and after enlarging it pasting back in the image to bring it forward. To put emphasis on the effect a smaller object can be placed deeper in the background. The background itself can also be altered fro a more dramatic effect.

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Manipulating light and shade

Sometimes the reference photo(s) you have decided to use lack interest due to inadequate contrast or the need for focused lighting. This can easily be altered using lighting effects tools.

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Adjusting color and tonal values

One important phase of painting realistic images and creating notable likeness is by outlining tonal properties in your painting within the imprimatura or Grisaille stage. Many imaging programs offer options in this respect by allowing you to convert your image from color to gray scale simplifying this essential step.

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Adding interest with texture and brush strokes

By using many of the filter options available, an artist can experiment with the final appearance of a painting to help determine brush stokes, style of the painting, amount of detail required, etc.

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Related links


Pixarra – TwistedBrush Digital Painting and Photo Editing

 Learn Photoshop In A Day  

Painting for Photographers: Steps and Art Lessons for painting Photos in Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop  


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