Many of us engage in this practice. Employing photographic sources is an excellent method for depicting on paper the locations we have visited, cherished vacation destinations, and much more. This piece will provide insights on creating magnificent watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media artwork using photographs. Although these tips are universally applicable, watercolor will be utilized as the primary medium in this illustration.
Discover Five Valuable Techniques for Painting from Photo References
Outlined below are five essential steps to follow when painting from photographs. This guide is applicable to artists of all skill levels, regardless of their chosen medium or subject matter. The crucial aspect is to consistently formulate a plan or a series of steps when engaging in artistic endeavors. The concepts shared in this article are equally effective for painting from real-life observations or outdoor settings.
The stunning watercolor landscape showcased below was created by employing these precise steps. If you are eager to expand your knowledge, let's embark on this enlightening journey together.
Step One: Find Your Photo Reference
Discover an image that resonates with you. Establishing a personal connection with the subjects depicted is crucial for creating artwork that reflects your unique life experiences. While I acknowledge that this is not an absolute requirement, in my humble opinion, it greatly enhances the creative process.
Shown above is a photograph capturing the essence of Williamsburg, VA. Specifically, it portrays Colonial Williamsburg, a place conveniently situated near my residence.
Step Two: Give Image a Blurred Effect
Induce a blur effect on the image by squinting your eyes or utilizing digital tools. This technique effectively merges similar tonal values and minimizes intricate details. Additionally, converting the image to grayscale can be beneficial. By eliminating hues, it facilitates the simplification process and prevents potential complications.
Step Three: Simplify and Connect Values
Identify opportunities to unify similar values and hues into larger, more cohesive shapes. For instance, although a red and blue building may exhibit different hues, they could share the same value. Similarly, the shadows cast on trees and shrubs might possess the same tonal values as the shadows on figures or their garments. If these connections aren't readily apparent in the reference photo, it becomes your responsibility as an artist to establish them.
In the below example, you'll observe a rough digital sketch of the image. While it may appear somewhat untidy, this is my preferred approach to simplifying subjects. This preliminary step significantly streamlines the painting process, reducing the complexity from thousands of details to just twenty distinct shapes.
Step Four: Choose a Palette
Select a color scheme that harmonizes effectively with your artwork. There are various approaches to accomplish this, ranging from employing traditional combinations based on the color wheel to utilizing personal preferences such as a tonal or chromatic palette. In the present example, I opted for a tonal palette, wherein most hues are desaturated and subdued, emphasizing a sense of grayscale.
Step Five: Complete Composition Drawing wit Point of Interest
Create a swift contour drawing based on the preceding steps, while incorporating personal touches and enhancing the focal point. In this particular photo reference example, I introduced figures crossing the street, included a crosswalk, and added a few additional figures in the middle-ground to infuse vitality into the scene.
I trust you found these tips on painting with photo references enjoyable and informative. Implementing these ideas has personally aided me in avoiding common errors, saving both time and money, and ultimately producing commendable artwork.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on these five steps in the comments section below. I value your feedback and insights.