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You must destroy detail

From: Painter 11 Essential Training

Video: You must destroy detail

One of the basic things that is important in interpreting a photograph into a painting is to get rid of all of the photographic detail in the painting, and having worked with many photographers in various workshops, I can tell you this is one of the hardest things for a photographer to let go of. This is the mainstay of their vocabulary in their particular art. High detail is something that they've spent years getting good at and then to tell them, "you've got to remove all that," seems just totally counter to their very strong knowledge of the vocabulary of photography.

You must destroy detail

One of the basic things that is important in interpreting a photograph into a painting is to get rid of all of the photographic detail in the painting, and having worked with many photographers in various workshops, I can tell you this is one of the hardest things for a photographer to let go of. This is the mainstay of their vocabulary in their particular art. High detail is something that they've spent years getting good at and then to tell them, "you've got to remove all that," seems just totally counter to their very strong knowledge of the vocabulary of photography.

So I'm going to go through an image and we are going to start and talk a little bit about this photographic detail and then we are going to break this image down and go through the key steps of translating it or interpreting it into a painting. So looking at this image, right away you have got two of the big vocabulary elements of photography. You've got sharp focus. Look how clean and clear the subject eyes are. You can even see the beads of sweat around the eyes and the face so that you get sense of this being a heated situation.

Even the hairs on his sideburns are very much in focus. But then we get to the rifle that he is holding and it's out of focus. That's because very shallow depth of field was employed here to focus on the eyes. If the rifle stock and the hammer on there were as in sharp focus as the eyes, this image would lose some impact. We need that element, the rifle in there to get a sense of what activity this person is engaged in, but we don't need it so much that it becomes as important.

What's important here is the intent and gaze of this soldier's eyes as he is theoretically in battle. So what we need to do right away is delete all of this high detail and I know it's hard to do, especially for photographers that may be listening, but it's crucial. One thing I'll say though is we are going to be looking at nondestructive photo painting. And doing so in that kind of environment or even in the auto-cloning environment, you always have access to the original detail and it's important to remember that, because as long as you realize I can always get back to what I lost in the process, then there is always the ability to work without fear.

So that you know I can do this and I've got a safety net in place, if I need to, that original detail is there. And as we'll see later on that's actually important to take advantage of. So let's start by de- constructing this photograph. The very first thing that has to happen is you must be wiling to destroy the detail. So I go into the image and very quickly not with a lot of thinking too much about it, I completely stroke over the image. You can see there is some play of the different facets of the image that some strokes will follow.

But at this point it's really not as important to delineate the subject as much as it is to remove that detail. Once you remove the detail, you are going to start to rebuild it back in, but with a painting vocabulary rather than a photographic vocabulary. That's the key to doing this. Starting all the way down to the lowest level. The rough underpainting. It's kind of backwards, because in traditional painting you start with nothing and you build up from an underpainting that's very loose and slowly build it up with detail to its final result.

Here in this world, we are starting with the most highly detailed version of an image you can have, the photograph, and we have to start by eradicating that detail and then bringing it back. So it's a little backwards from the traditional technique, but it's how you get to the final result that you are looking for. So I've gone in here and I have just started to kind of play with the colors of the image and start to add a little bit of texture in there and once again, I'm trying to get this away from its pure photographic color. I want to add even more kind of distressing of the image to take it away from its photographic origins.

No I'm going in and I'm starting to apply more of the vocabulary of painting. I've gone in with a very kind of coarse fine brush apply to his eyebrows and I've let a little bit of the canvas start to show through on various techniques. I'm starting to apply little highlights on the gunstock and the hammer to start to put a little bit more detail back in there. Same with the hat he is wearing, and that's a word I'm going to be using quite a bit here. A photograph captures every detail equally. No subjectivity.

A Painter selectively brings that back in. And I often refer to this as indicating. An artist does not paint every leaf on a tree, they will generally block in the shadow highlight areas of a tree and then they will selectively place a few well-placed strokes that give the eye enough information to make the viewer feel like they are seeing more than they are. It's kind of a connect-the-dots trick. And the mind delights in this connect the dots when you can present an image that presents just enough information that the brain has to engage in this connect the dots activity to make itself think it's seeing more than is there, the brain likes that.

So it's part of what engages the viewer into a painting. Now I have actually applied the surface of painting to this, so where the canvas we've shows through, the brush stroke on the canvas. So once again and even more of the vocabulary of painting has been applied to this so that at this point we've pretty much altered the photograph into a painted result. We can see here, if we compare them side- by-side, you can see on the left, there is the full photographic version of this image and on then on the right side we've converted it or in this case interpreted it into a painted result.

And you can see that it's not recognizing one for the other, but the vocabulary of the original photograph has now been interpreted into a painting by introducing all of the elements and vocabulary elements of photography using the photograph as a source. So this is the basic technique of destroying detail and then selectively bringing it back through painting tools. So you must destroy detail.

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This video is part of

Image for Painter 11 Essential Training
Painter 11 Essential Training

92 video lessons · 12231 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 1m 49s
    1. Welcome/demo
      54s
    2. Using the exercise files
      55s
  2. 3m 45s
    1. What Painter can do
      1m 15s
    2. Let's paint!
      2m 30s
  3. 23m 16s
    1. Starting Painter for the first time
      6m 39s
    2. Creating, opening, and saving files
      4m 52s
    3. Sizing image resolution for output
      6m 16s
    4. Extending the canvas
      2m 36s
    5. Creating and using templates
      2m 53s
  4. 37m 46s
    1. Navigating Painter
      8m 46s
    2. Rotating the canvas
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Tool palette and Property bar
      6m 41s
    4. Understanding Tool palette selectors
      8m 58s
    5. The Brush Selector bar: an art store in a palette
      4m 2s
    6. Configuring palettes
      6m 16s
  5. 28m 37s
    1. Accessing and controlling color with the Color palette
      8m 27s
    2. Mixing color in the Mixer palette
      10m 41s
    3. Color sets: choose 'n' use color
      9m 29s
  6. 37m 13s
    1. Understanding the six axes of motion
      3m 19s
    2. Introducing tablets: Intuos3 and Intuos4
      8m 6s
    3. Introducing tablets: Cintiq
      7m 49s
    4. Customizing your Wacom tablet: part 1
      4m 57s
    5. Customizing your Wacom tablet: part 2
      9m 25s
    6. Maximizing your tablet's pressure response
      3m 37s
  7. 14m 56s
    1. Understanding the selection tools
      2m 16s
    2. Making selections using the Lasso tool
      3m 20s
    3. Making polygonal selections
      2m 51s
    4. Making selections using the Magic Wand tool
      6m 29s
  8. 42m 34s
    1. Understanding layers
      8m 1s
    2. Using the Preserve Transparency control
      2m 50s
    3. Using the Pick Up Underlying Color control
      4m 36s
    4. Resizing and rotating layers using the Transform tool
      5m 45s
    5. Making selections using channels
      4m 23s
    6. Working with layer masks
      9m 52s
    7. Adding text
      7m 7s
  9. 37m 40s
    1. Understanding the Brush Creator workspace
      6m 11s
    2. Exploring brush properties using the Randomizer
      8m 15s
    3. Exploring brush properties using the Transposer
      4m 45s
    4. Using the Stroke Designer to create custom brushes
      9m 39s
    5. Managing brush variants
      8m 50s
  10. 38m 24s
    1. Adjusting brush size: three techniques
      3m 3s
    2. Fine-tuning your stroke in the Brush Controls palette
      5m 12s
    3. Working with texture-aware media
      8m 59s
    4. Painting with Artists' Oils brushes
      10m 45s
    5. Painting with RealBristle brushes
      3m 39s
    6. Working with hard media
      4m 57s
    7. Painting with markers
      1m 49s
  11. 20m 21s
    1. Understanding the Image Hose
      3m 26s
    2. Controlling the Image Hose
      8m 32s
    3. Creating a nozzle file
      8m 23s
  12. 22m 11s
    1. Warmup exercises
      7m 54s
    2. Draftsmanship: drawing media
      10m 56s
    3. Doodling
      43s
    4. Creating outline sketches utilizing the conceptual squint
      2m 38s
  13. 17m 28s
    1. Understanding cloning
      3m 1s
    2. Tracing a clone's source using Tracing Paper
      3m 27s
    3. Painting a cloned image
      5m 55s
    4. Creating a Quick Clone
      2m 46s
    5. In-document cloning
      2m 19s
  14. 25m 51s
    1. Understanding the vocabularies of paint photography
      8m 51s
    2. You must destroy detail
      6m 20s
    3. Focusing on the subject
      4m 1s
    4. Adapting color in a photograph for photo painting
      6m 39s
  15. 28m 16s
    1. Under-painting
      6m 26s
    2. Auto-painting
      5m 25s
    3. Using manual controls for auto-painting
      11m 53s
    4. Restoring detail using the Restoration palette
      4m 32s
  16. 18m 44s
    1. The photo as wet oil paint
      6m 47s
    2. Cloning the canvas and building detail with multiple layers
      11m 57s
  17. 25m 57s
    1. Applying surface texture
      6m 53s
    2. Matching the color palette between two images
      4m 10s
    3. Marbling
      9m 27s
    4. Exploring the Growth effect
      5m 27s
  18. 25m 10s
    1. Understanding frame-by-frame animation
      2m 9s
    2. Creating an animation with onion-skinning
      11m 51s
    3. Using a movie clone source
      11m 10s
  19. 17m 47s
    1. Using each application for its strengths
      4m 24s
    2. Working with Photoshop's PSD file format in Painter and Photoshop
      4m 52s
    3. Configuring color management
      8m 31s
  20. 33m 25s
    1. Setting preferences
      7m 37s
    2. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      5m 5s
    3. Saving and restoring palette layouts
      4m 3s
    4. Creating custom palettes
      3m 36s
    5. Accessing favorite brushes using the Tracker palette
      5m 55s
    6. Organizing custom workspaces
      7m 9s
  21. 8m 17s
    1. Undo, undo, undo
      3m 33s
    2. Painting on layers
      1m 57s
    3. Save often, save early
      2m 47s
  22. 10m 7s
    1. Resetting brushes: Painter's panic button
      2m 0s
    2. Resetting workspaces with the Shift key restart
      6m 12s
    3. Troubleshooting brushes with the brush checklist
      1m 55s
  23. 16s
    1. Goodbye
      16s

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