Saturday, November 13, 2010

Portrait Marathon update: Quilty progress (going backwards in time)

Some folks have expressed interest in the progress pictures, which I didn't post for Quilty.  So, we'll go backwards in time here to get a look at how she ended up done.

Here's the reference photo:
I have to start these by cropping the photo down to fill as much of the canvas as I can with the pet's face.  In Quilty's case, that was pretty easy, since she's face-on, nothing sticking out to the sides: fits well in a square.

Can you resist cracking up at this face??

Then, still in photoshop, I start messing around with lighting and background ideas, until I think I've got what I want.
Oh, and re-create the eyes if they're blown out by flash, as Quilty's were.  In this case, I wanted to accent her barking, and ... hm ... how shall I say ... ego-centrism (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!) with the concentric waves radiating from her head.  But not too attention-getting.  Just background.  All this work in photoshop takes the place of painted sketches from "the olden days".

On to the canvas.  I draw onto the canvas, in blue, usually, then start painting the first layers.  I wanted this one to have have that warm yellow everywhere except her face, which I wanted to really pop out.  So, I washed in the yellow everywhere but her face, which I later washed in with the palest blue.  Except for her hot, glowing eyes!  Contrasting warm and cool areas helps to separate them in space.
I laid in some of the blue waves early on, and added a wash of that blue over her body, to tone it down some.

I didn't take any pictures after that 'til I was getting close to done.  You can see how much I've toned down the waves, for instance.
Layered in her stripes, got her features pretty well defined, but there's still work to be done.  The shine on her nose is too much.  The little mustache area is too blue, the stripes are too strong, and the area on her shoulders isn't right yet.  I keep detailing, re-balancing, washing in, washing out, bumping up contrast in the areas I want it most (eyes, mouth, nose), softening contrast where I don't want much attention (the stripes).  

Finally, I think I'm done.  The canvas edges are painted, I've signed it, H has approved the shine on the nose is adequately toned down (the first thing he noticed when he looked at it at the stage above), the shoulders have been re-worked to my satisfaction ....  Done.

Aaa-and that's how it goes!

(Meanwhile, Coco kitty seems to be feeling a smidge better, probably from the antibiotics, but I decided she needed some food, despite not wanting to eat on her own.  H and I droppered some liquified food into her fairly easily.  Hope she keeps it down!  Maybe a little more before bed.  Thanks for the good thoughts!)


  1. Xan, glad to hear Coco-kitty is doing a bit better... what a great portrait!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing the process, I'm sure it makes extra work for you, but it really makes the portraits so much more special (and incredible!) This one cracks me up everytime I look at it, thinking of the first muppet-head sorta-fuzzy shot I sent you :)
    Christine & Hamilton (another talker!!!)

  2. I'm glad Coco is feeling a little better!

    I wish I could get Photoshop to fix eyes. I can't even erase leashes with the stupid thing!

  3. Christine, I've accused myself of being a "born teacher". Or meddler. Or one-who-gives-unasked-for-advice. In other words, erm, I LIKE to talk how-to! I'm glad that, this time anyway, it's adding to the enjoyment! ;)

    Muppet-heads, UNITE! LOL!

    Thanks, Carrie. Photoshop is great, but their red-eye tool is worthless. I always have to re-create the eye altogether.

    Coco just got another couple dropperfuls of food, and didn't object too strenuously. :)

  4. Hope Coco is feeling better soon.

    Absolutely LOVE seeing the process. I'm not a patient person, but watching the process and updates will help me wait for Bella's :)

  5. Thanks, Sara. Coco is hanging in there, accepting her droppersful of food with increasing resistance, which I take as a good sign. Getting her 'tude back!

    I'll try to take more progress pictures, to keep you occupied while you wait. ;)


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