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Learn to think like a painter and render images from photographs that look like they were created with oils or acrylics, using the latest digital artist's tools. Author and artist John Derry introduces the process of interpreting a photograph into a painted work of art. He begins by explaining his system of visual vocabularies, which describe how to replace the elements of an image with expressive painterly qualities, and also shares the custom brush sets and actions he uses to achieve these results in Photoshop. The course also covers working with filters, layers, effects, and more to add further detail and texture.
I've talked expressive interpretation classes to a lot of photographers and the number one mistake they typically make is to not initially remove enough detail from the source photograph. Remember a key element in the language of photography is sharp focus and fine detail. It is very hard for photographers to let go of this element. As a result, too much detail is often retained in the translation and the so-called painting continues to look photographic. In this video we'll look at how always having the original source imagery available provides a safety net for vigorously destroying detail during the underpainting step.
I'm using the project image from Chapter 9 in the exercise files and one of the things that is kind of difficult to start with here is how you know how to break up this detail. Because this is an admittedly fairly complex scene and I am going to show you a little trick that I've figured out that helps me determine what are the critical areas. So I am going to create a new layer above this and I also am going to fill it with white. I am going to set the Opacity to around 50% and finally I'm going to just get a small airbrush, very small size, in black and basically what this gives me is a tool I can kind of sketch with and what I am going to do is just very roughly without taking a whole lot of time, I don't want to be very specific about it, I'm just going in and delineating what are the major kind of compositional elements in here, without regard to what they actually are as objects, but just their shapes on a page is all they are.
So I'm seeing these basic lines and you do not have to be super accurate about this at all, but I'll show you here in a moment that just going through and doing this ends up giving you a nice template for understanding where your composition is. And you don't have to lever over this for long at all. We just want it very simple. Now I am going to turn off the Reference layer and right there what I've delineated in just a few seconds is the major building blocks of this image.
They are almost like puzzled pieces and all fitted together. They come together to create the composition that is this street scene. So just this little exercise alone helps you visualize exactly what are the key areas you are going to work on destroying all the detail and there are places where you are going to want to kind of preserve some of these shapes that you see in here. So that's our goal, to take these large compositional shapes and destroy all the detail in them.
So having done that, I'm going to go ahead and I can throw this away now. It was just an exercise for me to just quickly see that and give me a visualization of really what I'm after in terms of breaking down the shapes in this image. Let's go ahead and we're going to apply our Cloning Layer action and since we're starting off here, we're going to be working in the Underpainting layer. You are going to work from the largest brushes down to the finest bushes as you progress in this painting.
So by the time you are finished, you are going to be working with very small brushes at 100% in doing a lot of detail. Right now, we're just doing this kind of overall thing and a good brush I've found is as the Fan, so I am going to use the Fan - Flat Cloner, which should be right up here. There we go. And I can adjust with my Left and Right Bracket keys the size of this brush, so that's how I'm doing the left bracket key and you can see how it gets smaller.
Doing the right bracket key and it gets larger. So that's how I'm making these adjustments. So we saw how these are major areas. I also know from experience and I am going to impart it to you, that you don't want to try to block out this building and somehow think to yourself "Oh, but I don't want to get rid of this tree, because it's in the scene." We can obliterate it now and get it back, because the key rule about this whole process is that you always have access to the original photograph.
So if I completely blend out the trees right now, I'm not losing them. They're just temporally gone on this layer, but every other cloning layer I create those trees are in there. So I can always bring them back and I can tell you it's going to be much easier to just get rid of them now in this total destruction of detail layer and bring them back in a later cloning layer. So don't worry about it. And now I can see on this system, this is a little slow. So one thing I might do to help myself out is just take the size down a bit, because I want to get to where I have a fairly quick motion.
The other thing you can do is you sometimes can kind of speed things up if you are not looking at the entire image. It doesn't tend to try to do so much. So here we are. I am just going in here and I am going to clone this out. Now we are not going to have time to completely do this. So you are not going to see me do everything, but I am going to go through the major steps of what would be done, and then we continue on, I will have finished this up. But you can see what I am doing right here? I am just dragging color down over the tree areas and if we disable temporarily our layer, you can see it goes away. It's not there.
So I can pretty much dismiss this just by painting right over it with the existing color that's already on there. You are just smearing color around basically and I may use some of these guides that are part of the building, strokes I'm making. They can be against the grain. They can be with it. The goal is just to simply lose all that detail. So in all these areas you are pretty much going to just smear things out. I don't care about these frontal details.
They can go away. And this can be a very liberating activity, particularly if you're a photographer, whenever I show photographers, so this is what you are going to do, they really get into it, because it's so against their grain. They are so used to dealing with lots of detail that it liberates them when they realize, I can just go in here and just get rid of all of this. And the other thing that's very important about doing this is you want to be loose when you do this. Hopefully you're seeing the way I'm doing it.
It's a very loose painting style. Don't worry about perfect lines, straight lines, lines that are outside the lines. All of these things are going to get tightened up in the later layers as we move towards the finishing of this image. So right now of all times in this painting where you can just play like your Van Gogh and you just slop paint around, this is the time to do it. So I am going to go ahead and keep doing this and in the next video we'll take a look at the next step where we start to add more detail back in here.
In the meantime, I will keep painting and I'll see you in the next video.
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