Manipulating Photos for a New Painting

December 28, 2015

I’m developing an idea for a new painting based on photos I took many years ago. It’s a composite of a couple different shots made at a lake in North Texas.

What I’ve done is manipulated the photo into a limited range of colors as a reference for the preliminary undertone values of the painting. The overall colors of the end result will be a warm range of reds and oranges, so I’m using a complementary shade of neutral blue to start with. (Note: I don’t want to show you the original photo at this point, so as to not give away too much of what the final painting will look like. It might spoil the surprise – for both of us.)


Using Photoshop, I converted the RGB image of the original photo composite to Index mode in order to reduce the number of colors down to eight. I grouped the darkest values together and saved that as a separate file.


I’ll start the painting with a broad thin wash of light blue over the whole surface, and then add the dark shapes shown above, finishing up with 2 or 3 values of a middle tone. All the paint colors at this point will be light in value and thin washes.

I’m planning this to be another gouache painting, and I’ll show how this process works on paper in the next post. Let’s see how it turns out, shall we?


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