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Transform a portrait or family photo into a piece of art worthy of framing, in this digital painting tutorial with artist John Derry. John shares his library of custom brushstrokes and years of experience with you, and shows how to combine the powers of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter to convert your snapshots into art. Learn to adjust the tone of the original image; paint skin, eyes, and hair; minimize the background; and add subtle vignetting. Plus, John shows you how to bundle and submit your image to online services that will print your painting on canvas.
These techniques work with subjects of any age or skin tone, and are perfect for memorializing moments a photo can't quite do justice to.
Despite a photographer's best efforts, it is all too easy to inadvertently let distractions appear in an image. This image is a perfect example. I shot this while in Paris a few years ago. In the bright sun, the fountain appeared as a vaporous cloud. And when I got the pictures back, I was confronted with a tourist relaxing, with a fountain coming out of his head. In this movie, we'll take a look at removing distractions, in order to bring focus to the subjects. So here we are, and what I want to do right now then, is evaluate the background.
And the thing we have to always keep in mind is that you don't want to be a slave to the photograph. We want to be willing to make changes, even big ones if it's necessary, to emphasize the subjects. Remember that the exact look of the image is all about the subjects. And so anything else is secondary. And one of the things in looking at this that I'm seeing already, is that the offset of the subjects is a bit disconcerting. In fact, I made a set of guides here so we can see, that's what will be the face of the canvas once it's made.
And you can see the father's head here, he's you know, getting close to what will be the edge, and she's rather far away from it. So, one of the things that I'm going to want to deal with here, is getting them more set up so that they're centered. And so, that's something that I, I'm going to have to think about. I'm not going to handle it in this particular video. We're going to do that in just a little bit, in the next chapter. So, I'm going to leave that for now. But the other thing that I want to address right now is, when I look at the subject's faces and I look back here, this is really a distraction how bright the highlights are back here.
The one thing I can do right off the bat is adjust these highlights. And a really easy way to do that is I'm going to go ahead and create a new layer. And I'm going to set this layer to darken. And then I'm going to go ahead and get an airbrush here, let's enlarge it up a ways.
I'm using the right and left bracket keys to do that. And I'm going to hold down the option or the alt key. And this let's me start to like grab a color here, so I'm going to take a darker color here. And you can see how I can go in here and start to darken these. And remember once again, that what you see right now is not the final image at all.
So even though these may look a little crude, they're not important, because we're going to be completely repainting all of this. So all I really am focusing on right now is reducing that background highlight. I may put a little bit of texture in there, But the goal right now is to tone these down, get it much darker than it was. Really what we're doing is establishing some noise in the image to take that bright spot in the background away. So even there now, these dots are starting to be a little distracting, but I know in advance that I'm going to be painting over this, so it's really not important. They key here is just getting things not so bright. And I can see even here. Now I'm going to go ahead and back these up. What I may do here, is just set my opacity down to maybe somewhere around 20 or so. Now I can do this and do it a little more subtlety. And just grabbing darker colors and, getting this all toned down.
So if we turn this on and off now, you can see, see when that's on the visual system is tuned to go for contrast, so it's finding these edges here. And even though you're not consciously doing it, your visual system just wants to go to those bright areas. When they're toned down like this, now that is not an area of focus any longer. The subjects become much more in focus. So finding areas that are these distracting background elements, and again, we could have had a phone pole or something coming right out of her head.
Those are the kinds of things you want to look for. And always keep in mind that it's the subjects that are important, not the background. In this particular image it's a backyard scene and we'll leave enough there so you'll get the sense of yes, they're outside in a treed area. We don't have to describe that with a great deal of certainty. Now some subjects could be in a rocking chair, Yes, in that case, that becomes a little bit more important, and so there are times where some of the background elements need to be identifiable because it's a certain place.
But, particularly in this portrait and most portraits, all of that you want to be diminished. And in fact, a photographer will often use depth of field To defocus those areas so, you don't have the same sense of sharpness, in the subjects that you would in the background. And that's yet another way as you can see here. That's out of focus, and your eye wants to go to where all of the focus is. So getting distractions removed during preparation phase really insures that you won't have to think about it later.
And this will allow you to concentrate on the painting process itself.
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