Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Realistic digital portraits and figures

Portraits and figure studies can be fun to paint on the computer. For the beginner it may seem like a daunting experience, but if you start by first painting many smaller sketches you will gradually gain the confidence to tackle larger, more complex works. It would also be advantageous, as I have stressed before, to do some painting and sketching with traditional mediums as well. It's also important to spend some time studying other artist's paintings in books, museums and galleries, there's a goldmine of information and inspiration out there.

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A painting of my granddaughter, Liz, at the piano. A loose rendition using Photoshop 5.0

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Another granddaughter, Ryan, rendered over a scanned drawing. By having her shirt and background the same color and drawing in dark lines to define her body, I made the painting much more interesting. It was done in Photoshop 5.0. I prefer more of a painterly quality in my realistic renditions rather than hyper realism, which seems so hard and cold, without feeling.

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The violinist was painted directly over a photograph using the Painter Classic program. I deliberately kept the rendering very loose and sketchy.

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Liz with Charlie. This was painted over a photo using the Photoshop program and has a nice painterly quality.

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A client of mine commissioned me to do a portrait of his grandson. On this painting I first did a pencil drawing and painted over the scanned image with Photoshop 5.0 and Painter Classic, using a photo as reference. With Painter Classic you can create nice juicy brushstrokes that have the look of an oil painting. The finished image was printed on 13 x 19" archival paper using pigmented inks which resist fading. Dye based inks will eventually fade, manufacturers claim that pigmented inks will not show signs of fading for over two hundred years. We'll never know if they are correct, but if the prints are framed properly and not hung in direct sunlight, they should not fade.
On my next post I will show you a few variations on painting portraits.


John Derry said...

Hi Mr. Borgman:

I've been following your recent posts on digital painting with great interest. I particularly appreciate your fearlessness merging photographic sources with a painterly, expressive approach. I firmly believe that the intermingling of the visual vocabularies of painting and photography is an evolutionary expressive step proffered by the digital age.

I've been referring to this new medium as dipping your paintbrush into a photograph. Painting as a discipline is a long-term mountain climb. The ability to utilize digital brushes on an existing image empowers many beginners to try expressive media. And it hopefully leads one to further in-depth exploration.

Thanks for your willingness to be open to—and share—the new creative possibilities digital technology offers.


Harry Borgman said...

Hi John,
Thanks for for viewing my blog and also for your comments. I agree with you, the computer has opened up whole new worlds for the artist, especially for beginning artists. My experiments with digital realism were done a few years ago when I first got my computer and I barely touched the surface of the enormous possibilities of working in this new medium. I love the Painter program and will soon aquire the latest version so that I can experiment with digital painting in more depth.