Join John Derry for an in-depth discussion in this video Skin: Practice how to blend, part of Transforming a Portrait Into a Painting in Photoshop.
Before we jump in to rendering skin on our subjects, let's examine just what we are doing in this digital painting environment. Unlike traditional painting, where we would mix flesh tones and then apply them to the canvas with a brush. We already have our color, in the correct locations, in the source image. Our goal here, is to maximize the skins appearance and emphasize tonality. Thereby providing a sense of three dimensionality. A good part of this is accomplished by blending the existing source color on a separate layer.
The brush I use for this is Painter's just add water brush. Just add water is an excellent blending tool. one way to think of just add water is as a sort of reverse air brush. Just as an airbrush is used to apply and overlay colors to create smooth blends, Just Add Water picks up underlying color and smooths it out. Later on, we'll look at how to add new color and blend it with the existing underlying colors, but for now we'll spend some time learning how to best take advantage of Just Add Water's superior blending capabilities.
Let's get started. Now, there is a version of just add water in Painters Blenders category. However somewhere along the way, they've changed pressure to velocity. And I don't know why that happened but, that really doesn't work for Just Add Water. You really want it to be controlled by pressure. And volocity, I don't know why it's there. But, it doesn't work like it used to. So, I have in my category, John's Just Add Water. And that's the brush we want to use.
I've tweeked it so that is not volocity based. And I did some other tweaks to it just to try to maximize it. And I will tell you that this brush like some other brushes in painter, is particularly sensitive to pressure sensitivity. And the kinds of differences you're going to get based on your pressure, and because of this you may need to adjust the pressure curve in painter, for this brush. Now, I have it set up for my brush calibration. And it works for me. But everybody has a different sense of touch.
And because of that, you may need to play around with brush calibration in order to get the feel that you want for this. Because it really does make a big bit of difference if pressure's not correctly adjusted. And I think by watching me, you'll get a sense of how it's supposed to work. So if your brush isn't acting the way mine is. You're going to want to play around with brush calibration. So let's get started here. I'm going to start playing with blending some of these colors together, and that why this chart is a nice aid. And this is called blending practice.
You'll find this in the exercise folder for chapter six. So I'm just going to go in here and, again, I'm using a lot of slight variability in my pressure in order to be able to make these subtle gradients. And one of the things you do not want to do is to make these so smooth that you literally could of created it with a Gradient tool. I can see in here, there's little irregularities and little Dark spots that are over in the lighter spots a little bit. You want to keep those there. Because that's what indicates that this is not a perfect algorithmically computed gradient.
But it has been rendered by hand. And since we are trying to, as best we can, make our photograph become a digital painting. It's all these little irregularities that are going to enhance and add to the sense that it is a painted image. The other kind of rule that you need to understand about the Just Add Water brushes, if you go against colors like I see here, you'll see, they pull into one another, and that's not something you want. You want to go with the gradation itself, and so when I paint, you can see how, by going with the gradient and staying with it, I can get these nice smooth blends of color.
And I can go into the middle of it and continue to kind of push left and right. So that I can even kind of flatten out this gradient a little more. So, you're going to want to use this, and I would say practice this a bit. Once you get good at being able to blend totally different colors like this. Once you get working with skin, it's going to be much easier. Because It's all going to be shades basically of reds and your'e going to be just blending color into itself, and it's far easier than it is to do against two radically different colors.
The other thing that I want to mention while we're here is that this brush uses the lack of saturation to be a pick up only color brush If I turn this up all the way, it now becomes an airbrush. And it's really nice to know that's there. I quite often, when I'm working, with Just Add Water rather than switch to a whole separate airbrush. I will just jump up here and crank this up to 100% as long as I need my airbrush. And then when I want to get back to my pick up color brush, I just drop it back down.
It'll take a bit of time and practice to master your blending technique with John's Just Add Water, but once you get the hang of it, blending colors and tonalities will become second nature. And this brush is useful for many painting scenarios.
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.
- Building the image nondestructively
- Extending the edges of your image for gallery wraps
- Removing distractions
- Handling patterns
- Making preliminary tonal adjustments
- Blending skin
- Adding lighting
- Using vignetting to focus on the subjects