How do pro­fes­sional artists use ‘pho­to­bash­ing’ in their work?

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Khushi Dyal, Canada

Donglu replies

For dig­i­tal paint­ings that deal with me­chan­i­cal sub­ject mat­ters, the pho­to­bash­ing tech­nique has grown in pop­u­lar­ity. There’s noth­ing wrong with this method, as long as you don’t run into copy­right is­sues with the pho­tos you use.

In a real pro­duc­tion con­text, we use all sorts of meth­ods to speed up the cre­ation process, in­clud­ing past­ing pho­tos di­rectly into our paint­ings. How­ever, this method can of­ten cre­ate in­con­sis­tency in the de­sign, and artists have a ten­dency to over-de­tail the im­age with small pieces of pho­tos. So in­stead of just past­ing ran­dom pho­tos to­gether, think more about the process.

I like to start with some ba­sic vol­umes in SketchUp to search for the right de­sign lan­guage and com­po­si­tion. Once I’m sat­is­fied with the ba­sic block-out, I ex­port the im­age into Pho­to­shop to start the pho­to­bash­ing process. The trick is to se­lect a limited range of pho­tos to use – oth­er­wise, the paint­ing will ex­plode with dif­fer­ent shapes and de­sign aes­thetics. So, in short, I cre­ate a 3D base, gather photo ref­er­ence from a limited range of de­sign lan­guages, and then gather ref­er­ences for my colour pal­ette and light­ing.

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