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If you were a high-wire tightrope artist, you'd prefer a safety net, wouldn't you? I know I would. Likewise, when interpreting a photograph into a painting, a safety net can provide the ability to back out of undesirable results, as well as embolden you to experiment and try out ideas you'd otherwise avoid. In this video, we will take a look at my solution for a creative safety net while interpreting photos into painting. I call it non-destructive layer painting. The holiday scene that we are using for this project could have been painted directly on the digital canvas using only the trusty undue, or alternatively, regular file saving to provide any means of backing out of an undesirable result.
Instead, I employed non-destructive layer painting which enables me to build up a painting in layers. This technique not only acts as a safety net, it lets you build up a painting in organized layers. If you need to make a correction later on, for example, you can go to the layer that isolates the desired change, and edit only the specific area requiring modification. Here is a look at how I isolated the various stages of this painting. Now I am going to go through these and just show you the buildup and remember that each one of these I am going to show you is an individual layer where the activity took place on.
So I have the original source photograph. That's always available to me, and we'll see in more detail in the next video exactly how this works. The first layer I work with is the underpainting layer. So now I'm creating the simplified underpainting upon which more detail is going to be added at a later stage, and you'll notice that I actually took out some elements. The trees, for example, would have been very difficult to try to keep in the scene.
So I literally edited them out in the underpainting scene and then used an additional layer to bring back that detail, and by keeping those on those separate layers, it lets me experiment, for example, with the look of the trees because I'm not painting right on the same base that the underpainting exists on. Next, I did the tree lighting. I wanted to experiment with it. So once again, an additional layer gave me the wherewithal to try that out two or three different ways until I recognized the one that that's how I want it to look, and then that became the layer that stayed part of the painting.
Next and this is a big part of the interpretation process, and that is adding all the indication, indicating detail within the painting. So a lot of time was spent here and this is where you are starting to bring up the individual character of the image, starting to isolate the subject matter and add to it in a way that the observer's eye wants to go in and look at that detail. Next I started adding elements that weren't even in the photo. I added passersby, pedestrians crossing the street, that weren't even in the original photograph. So in this case, I'm adding a storytelling element that wasn't present in the original image.
Then I get into the final refinements. This is where it's just a final layer that adds a little bit of extra character to the image. Now if I turn it on and off, you can see for the most part it's the look of snow in the sky coming down, as well as I added some highlights on the windshields of the cars, played a little bit with the signage on the lamp posts, but these are just the small things that you start to notice towards the end that are going to help enhance the image. So we really are kind of narrowing down into the end of the image process to where it's almost finished.
Then finally, I add a physical texture layer. It's the appearance of what it would look like if this was a photograph painting, and we are not seen it too much here, and once again we are going to go out in more detail about this in a later video, but that is yet another step that ends up giving me the entire painting. So if we looked on the left, you can see there is a stack of several individual layers that make up this entire painting. And as long as those layers are isolated the way they are, I can always go back and change things.
Just a simple example would be the tree lighting. I might want to go back to that layer and play around with its intensity or the hue of the color, to mix those up. There's kind of a warm glow to those white lights in the trees. I may decide I want to change that, or I can even go back and mask that layer and go in and paint individual colored lights. So having all these elements in these layers is a great way to build up a very complex scene and yet have a very diverse editing environment where you can go back and play with these isolated layers to adjust them the way you want.
In the next couple of movies, we will take a look at the individual components in my suite of cloning layer actions.
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