Portrait painting in black and white
How to paint a portrait in oil part 4
Every time i teach a class i start with the same lecture of how important it is to learn portrait painting step by step im sure there are people out there
Black and white female portrait
Black and white version
Black and white modern portrait painting

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Painting A Black And White Portrait.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all decreased to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would instantly be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and dull straight from the camera. fortunately , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours discretely to introduce some contrast. However, a great starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some forceful blacks and whites. This may be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, could inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the most excellent composition.

Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are simply as useful in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is cooperative when you want to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter may be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, deem taking two or more shots with varied exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be anxious to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, should also be advantageous for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of their opposite colour while lightening objects of his own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green single will lighten foliage.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The greatest monochrome conversions are arrived at by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome photograph Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As most photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. many cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact routine cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users could also do this if they kick in her camera’s live line of thinking mode , but the usually slower responses mean that numerous will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a manner that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers can only aspiration of because you can target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you may use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to perk up them to increase local contrast. It’s a good system of giving a sense of greater sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you may set the opacity of the tools, you could build up her effect gradually so the impact is subtle and there are no hard edges.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots could work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider place than they would with a short exposure and this can help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If compulsory , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to reduce exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). typically , when exposures extend beyond with reference to 1/60 sec a tripod is wanted to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

Take Control. Although coloured filters may still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more common to save this work until the processing stage. Until a a couple years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the favorite means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more strong tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust single of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as crafty gradations can become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or pink shirt with the red sliding control, for moment , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls should also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create segregation between objects of the same brightness but with unique colours.

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Mix more shades of gray if you desire to blend the painted tones together more. Paint these onto the canvas, blending the different grays together as much as possible. Continue adding paint until you feel that all the tonal variations are well represented.

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Illustration How painting in black and white can improve your art How painting in black and white can improve your art

I’m happy with the shape and structure so it’s time to add in details. This is one of my favourite stages and I could happily detail characters all day long. I start to add in those dark shadows and bright highlights to really bring out the form of the character. I stick with a fairly small soft brush, sketch in and then build up those details, refining as I go.

Look at your photo carefully. Try to identify the darkest and lightest parts of the photos and then look for the tones in between.

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I start out with a simple silhouette and then build up to a refined design. This technique also makes creating any variations on the character very simple too, because there’s no need to worry about interfering with any colours you’ve painted.

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Mix your black and white paint together, until you are left with a medium-tone gray. Using your photo for reference, paint the darkest shadows you can see in the photo onto your canvas. The darkest areas usually include the neckline, the hairline, under the nose and under the eyes.

Once you’ve painted a shape that you’re pretty happy with, it’s time to start adding in some values. When doing this I don’t tend to use any values that are too bright or too dark, I like to keep things subtle while I’m building up the shape. I keep things pretty sketchy and gently add in some subtle shadows and highlights to find the structure of the body.

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Mix some pure white paint with only a small touch of gray. The resulting mixed color should be close to pure white. Observe your photo, and identify the bright highlights. Paint these onto the canvas sparingly, as it is easy to overdo this bright white color, which could wash out the tonal variations of the painting. The brightest highlights of the face usually include the teeth, the reflections in the eyes and any reflections that may be seen in the hair.

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Most of the time I opt for a black and white process. Here, I’m going to use the example of a character design, and run through some simple painting techniques you can use to get your black and white designs up to scratch.

A high contrast black and white photo can help you better identify highlights and shadows. (Image: portrait of a woman. b&w portrait image by Elena Platonova from Fotolia.com)

Charcoal stick Small paintbrushs Glass of water Paper towel Canvas Tube of black paint Tube of white paint Black and white photo for reference

Painting in black and white means you can focus on the image as a whole and resolve any glaring issues before you get to the colour stage. From here it’s pretty easy to just keep building up the detail until you’re ready to either go to colour or simply leave it as black and white.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 100.

Painting in black and white is great, because it makes you concentrate on elements such as composition, value, lighting and form. Of course, colour is a vital step, but the benefit of black and white is that you can focus on the image as a whole.

Mix a light shade of gray. It should be darker than pure white, but lighter than the medium-tone gray you had been using. Identify the lightest areas of the photo, and paint them onto your canvas with your light gray paint. These lightest areas usually include the whites of the eyes, the bridge of the nose, the cheekbones and the chin. You may want to paint your background this shade as well.

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Portrait painting can be challenging for many artists. (Image: Portrait image by Nenad Djedovic from Fotolia.com)

Draw a rough sketch of the portrait you are painting onto your canvas, using your charcoal. It is not necessary to include details in this rough sketch. Simple outlines and shapes are fine.

Portrait painting presents many challenges for an artist. Some artists even consider the human form to be one of the most difficult subjects to tackle. Although it can be challenging, the practice of portrait painting can help you grow as an artist. To start out with, try painting in black and white tones. Black and white portraits are sometimes considered ideal for a beginning portrait painter, as shadows and highlights can be better identified and represented through this neutral color palette.

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Mix a slightly lighter shade of gray. Look for the medium-toned areas of the photo and paint these onto your canvas. The medium-toned areas usually include the hair, the shadows created by the bridge of the nose, the lips and the shadows created by the cheekbones.

Remember to try and vary the values you’re choosing. You can use bright white highlights right through to dark greys and black. If you just stick to the middle ground and only use grey it can make things look a little flat.

First things first – I block out the character’s basic silhouette. I always try and keep things fairly rough at this point and avoid going into any detail too soon. Whether your character is a little kid or a hulking great giant, this is the time to focus on their shape and try and emphasise their character. Experiment with silhouettes until you find one you like.

Subtle highlights and shadows help define the structure of the body

How to Paint a Color Portrait from a Black & White Photograph    

Select a black and white photo of the person whose portrait you wish to paint. It helps if the photo is as large as possible, as this will make it easier to better identify the highlights and shadows.

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