How To Use Reference Photo The Right Way For A Painting

A lot of people will share with you the best painting tips to make your artwork right. But not a lot of people will tell you the importance of taking a good photo for doing your portraiture right. In this article, we will not share with you the usual tips for paintings that you might otherwise expect, but point to you the importance of using a good photograph for your painting purpose.

Artists all over the world nowadays use all kinds of creative ways to get inspiration for their painting, something that painters decades ago could not even dream of. One cannot deny the convenience of a good reference photo for aiding the purpose of getting a good painting. We all need an immediate image that can help us take inspiration and it can often be very tempting. But if you are a serious painter, you need to be really careful about the kind of reference photo you use for your artwork. It takes a good amount of skills to effectively use a good reference photo. If you don’t have skills to paint, you can use services like InstaPainting for converting your photo to painting online easily.

You would not want to the right way to copy a photo for your painting like a slave without seeing if it would be the right one for your art purpose. At the same time, it is also not advisable to become over-dependent on a picture for the same. Having a reference photo does not mean you copy it as it is. There is no prerequisite to do so! If you feel you want to modify the colors a little or change the shape of an element in the picture for your painting, go ahead and do it, rather than giving a dead look to your painting. This is so because you are creating a work of art, not recreating or copying a photograph. So the point here is that you should refrain from copying a reference photograph as it is!

Before you even decide to get a reference photo, it is important that you train your eyes the right way. The job is to look for a photo as an inspiration, and not a mode of copying it as it is, just because it is readily available to you. Once you have the eye to learn how to see a photograph as an inspiration and know if you need to make changes in it, is when you can use it as a means to create a painting. Your reference photo is only your aid and once you understand the shapes of elements in the picture and the color coordination in it, along with all details such as temperature, lighting, hues and other values is when you have finally got the artistic license to use it for your painting.

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Here in we will share with you some tips on how to get a photo right for the purpose of your painting:

1. The value of a good photo

When you call a photo a good one, it means getting the lighting, color scheme and tonal relationship right in the first place. If you are making use of flash in taking the reference photo, it means there will be some problems with the tonal contrast and lighting in it, which will directly affect the colours in the photo. So understand this bit in it before you choose a reference photo!

2. Learning how to get a photograph right 

You need to be sure about the photograph you are using and it could look as natural as it can be. Whether you get the help of a professional photographer or you click the picture yourself, at the end what matters is how good the photograph is for your painting purpose. You do not need to take lessons for digital photography for this, rather keep practicing it yourself or ask your photographer friend to teach you how to get it right.

To find an affordable camera is not a huge task today, and that has made photography not a difficult task today. For starters, practice taking pictures from different angles and in different lightings with your camera, and over a certain period, you will realize what will work in your favor and what will not. You could even refer to shoots on the internet to make your shoots similar to them.

3. Taking a number of images from different angles, lighting, and distance

Once you start taking pictures from different angles, lighting, and the distance you will realize how to make a complete picture of your subject. This is essential for the purpose of doing a landscape painting or a portrait painting. Blurry images or over-saturated images will have a negative impact on your painting because you would want to do the colors in the same way and the end product won’t be a good one.

4. Sketch before painting

If you want to be sure about the color schemes, values and temperature changes, start by sketching from the reference photo before you paint them. This will help you understand the basics of the picture and that will further affect the value related to your painting. You don’t need to sketch a masterpiece but roughly outline the subject to ensure you are understanding what you will be painting and capture the spirit of the picture on canvas.

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5. Don’t blacken out the shadows

Just because the shaded areas or the shadowed areas look all black in the picture does not mean you paint the areas in black on canvas as well. Observe closely and you will notice shades in them as well. It is not a dead hole, make the shadows look lighter on canvas and avoid a lot of blacks and dark browns in it. If the source of light in the picture is warm, you could use cool colors such as violet, blue or even green. On the other hand, if the source of light is cool then go for warmer earthy tones such as reds, oranges, and light browns. You can experiment with colors to see what would look good and complement your painting.

6. Your photo is the guide, not the end product

The colors you see in the photo are not going to be as brilliant and bright as you would expect them to be on canvas and you have to understand the difference between the two to visualize it on canvas. This is where you differentiate a photographer from a painter. The greens in a landscape won’t be the same when you will recreate them on canvas. So use your imagination and expertise to recreate them in the right way when you paint from a reference photo. For example, a flat red could be recreated as hot orange on canvas.

7. Crop if need be

If you feel there are certain parts to the photo that you do not want in your painting, choose to crop it out. However, make sure that you do not distance out the focal points in the background or make the elements in the foreground look cluttered.

8. You could bring in different elements from different pictures

This could be really challenging, especially for beginners, but if you want to unify more than one element from different photographs and you are sure about it, then go ahead with this experiment but ensure that you do not end up making a cluttered collage, rather than fitting in elements where need be. Watch out for the directions of your subjects, value relationships, and color temperature. You have the liberty to modify the image the way you want but in the process of experimentation, don’t end up messing up things.

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1 thought on “How To Use Reference Photo The Right Way For A Painting”

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