My experimentation of digital/mobile painting with photographs continues this week and for Paint Party Friday I thought I would share a couple of lessons learned.
First Lesson: To make a good painting from a photograph, you first need a good photograph.
If you are going to end up with a painting that has interesting composition, contrast and a good focal point, the photograph you are working with has to start out that way. The principles of design apply the same. This was not so much of an “aha” moment as a “well, duh” moment for me this week. It seems obvious after the fact. If you take a poorly executed image and then apply some painterly filters to it, it doesn’t make it the image inherently better. It gives it a bit of a “wow” factor briefly due to the processing, but it’s not going to stand the test of time.
So all this work I do to improve and refine my photographic composition and design? It totally applies in this new endeavor. It also makes me think that my Paint Party Friday friends might want to start joining me in Exploring with a Camera, because I have no doubt if you improve your photographs you will improve your painting. (And November’s Exploring with a Camera posts tomorrow!)
Second Lesson: Not every good photograph will make a good painting.
I’ll share a little example of one of my failures this week. Let’s start with the photograph, as taken with my iPod Touch:
This arrangement of leaves was found outside my car door in a parking space. I spent some time framing it in an interesting way. I liked the color and size contrast of the focal point leaf and the seemingly artful way the smaller leaves were scattered around. I thought the contrast would make it a good candidate for a painting.
Unfortunately, I did not save most of my attempts, because they were so atrocious. The translation to the painting didn’t necessarily change the feel. Here’s one example, created with the Glaze app:
And here’s the best I got out of it, using the Line Brush app. This app has some really neat features, in that you can paint portions of your image and then remove the underlying photograph. That’s what I did here: painted the leaf, removed the photograph, and then used a different brush for more painting to blend the colors and edges. The problem with this app is that it seems to want a specific rectangular canvas side, and it rotates and crops any square images without giving a choice in composition. That’s why the end of the leaf is chopped off. Grrrr. I cropped the end result as best I could to get a decent composition, but it’s not what I would have chosen.
So after all of the playing with this image, I finally decided it was meant to stay a photograph. I edited it with a vintage filter to soften the yellow-black contrast, worked with the vignetting to even out the corners, did a small crop to get rid of a couple of distracting elements on the edges, and called it good.
Great lessons for me this week.
Not only that, as I was writing this post I finally checked the resolutions on some of the files I’ve been using (I’ve been meaning to do that for days) and discovered that the Photo Stream sharing feature through iCloud doesn’t transfer full resolution files between devices. So now I need to figure out how to transfer full res files between devices, so these can actually be printed larger than a postage stamp, and re-edit my favorite images at high resolution. I guess it’s better to discover this now than later. But wow, is there a learning curve with all of this stuff!