Evolution of a Painting
When I am looking for a live-action image to paint, occasionally I find an awesome image that was recorded in the camera less than ideally. Maybe it's slightly out-of-focus, the gymnast is too small in the frame, or maybe hands or feet are not all in the frame. Such was the case with this image. The gymnast's body position was excellent, but she was too close to the photographer. He zoomed out all the way, but still couldn't get her foot in the frame. With a photograph, we are basically stuck with the original image. It is very time-consuming and tedious to add a body part to an image in a way that the viewer can't perceive the alteration. When we are painting, however, I have developed some techniques that make such additions easier to do.
I decided I wanted to use this image despite the missing foot. Since the 11x14 format of the Digital Painting on Canvas is wider than the image as recorded by the camera, I would have room for the foot to be included in the frame. The first step for me was to paint the background. Everything is painted in layers (and I'll tell/show you why shortly). In this image, the competition floor is on one layer (each layer is like a transparency on a projector, you can add or remove layers to modify the whole image), and there are many layers to the background extending beyond the floor. In this specific painting, there are also 6 layers for the gymnast and 6 more for her closeup in the corner. There are 20 additional layers of texture, grit, paint strokes, and other modifiers which lead to the authenticity of the final painting.
If you look at the middle image, you will see a somewhat lighter background compared to the one on the right. This is an occasion when multiple layers come in handy. I felt like the lighter background made the gymnast look slightly washed out. I wanted more vivid and darker colors behind her. Instead of having to repaint all those layers, I simply added some "adjustment layers" to create the effect which I wanted. Even though the gymnast layers are the same in both images, most viewers perceive her as more saturated and textured in the one on the right.
Painting in layers allows a painting to evolve as I work with it. I can also save the image at various points along the way in case a modification doesn't turn out the way I thought it would. I can always go back to the earlier version.
I am so pleased to be back in action covering meets again. The last 8 months allowed me to improve my digital painting skills, and now I have many new images to paint! If you are at an upcoming meet be sure to check out the early-bird specials that are only available during the meet. One such special (the COMBO package) allows you to get all the downloadable images of your gymnast PLUS a 11x14 Digital Painting on Canvas for less than the price of the painting alone (requirements to qualify for the COMBO package: 1. you allow me to select the images to use for the painting, and 2. you agree to permit me to use the painting and the images in my sample repertoire).