Paint in the style of an olD Master

an­drew theophilopou­los philopou­los chan­nels John Singer Sar­gent’s dis­tinc­tive por­trait work and paints Cer­sei and the dead king from Game of Thrones

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Workshops -

for this work­shop I’ll be at­tempt­ing to sim­u­late a paint­ing by John Singer Sar­gent in Pho­to­shop, us­ing noth­ing more than the Round brush and a few handy tools.

I’ve stud­ied Sar­gent since col­lege and con­tinue to be sur­prised by his feats as a master pain­ter. While teach­ings from him are few and far be­tween, the best way to learn from a dead artist is to see the work in per­son. It takes one good trip to a mu­seum to un­der­stand the mas­sive scale of Sar­gent’s ca­reer. When we look at an im­age through the in­ter­net we won­der, how have the pain­ters cre­ated such tight and re­al­is­tic works of art? The an­swer usu­ally lies in the size of the orig­i­nal paint­ing and in Sar­gent’s case, these por­traits were mas­sive! When view­ing an orig­i­nal Sar­gent up close you’ll no­tice the ges­ture, the energy and oily gloop re­quired to fill a life-sized por­trait. As a large-scale oil pain­ter my­self, I prep my Pho­to­shop files to be as large as a fine art can­vas. This way I can print the work to be close to life-sized. It also helps to keep me in the mind­set of the Old Mas­ters.

I, like they, want my work to be grandiose. My only wish for this paint­ing is that Lady Cer­sei and King Jof­frey were to have sat for their por­trait. The model is the life and soul of Sar­gent’s paint­ings: you can al­most feel them breathe. Let’s see what we can do with a photo shoot, and some of our imag­i­na­tion.

De­velop a colour sketch

Us­ing a scan of my thumb­nail, I edit the colour and value of the ab­stract back­ground to fit my con­cept us­ing blend­ing modes. To push back the darks I use a Mul­ti­ply layer mode and paint around the fig­ures. To give the char­ac­ter’s shape some cloth­ing or fleshy colour, use Over­lay, Color or Hue layer modes. I then clean ev­ery­thing up on a new opaque layer to cre­ate this sketchy style.

Achieve the per­fect ref­er­ence photo

The sketch helps a model find their pose in the photo shoot. Grab a friend or neigh­bour, find the right time of day and bring the cam­era! For Cer­sei, I had my model sway back and forth, fid­get and turn from side to side in the faint light of dawn. Jof­frey’s photos were taken around 2pm. I like to take 100 or more photos to get ev­ery­thing I need for a per­fect ref­er­ence shot.

Us­ing Adobe Photo’chop

The dif­fer­ences be­tween my car­toon sketch and the photo shoot are im­mense, but not to worry, Lasso tool is here! Make a se­lec­tion with the Lasso, then se­lect Copy Merge and Paste in Place. This will cre­ate a flat­tened layer of your se­lec­tion that can now be scaled and dis­torted to fit into place. I use an air­brush to erase the cut marks for a clean fin­ish.

Ren­der the im­age

My sketch is slowly mould­ing into a more ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of my sub­ject. I work like a sculp­tor, push­ing and pulling un­til the shapes and pro­por­tions be­come more co­her­ent. Af­ter a break, I get my fresh eyes on the paint­ing and con­tinue to push the draw­ing, colour, value and of course, my brush qual­ity.

Achiev­ing a colour match

I want to cre­ate more har­mony within the piece so I’ll need to dance the colours through­out my paint­ing a bit. The red glow within Cer­sei and the wine glass has no in­flu­ence through the en­tirely blue Jof­frey. With a Hue layer mode, I’ll brush on some of the or­anges and reds within the shad­ows of our King. Like­wise, Queen Cer­sei will be need­ing a hint of blue, eh?

Pho­to­shop tricks

Ever draw with the Smudge tool? As long as you’ve set your­self up with some nice colour, you can cre­ate long, clean sweeps for a fluid brush ef­fect. Set the tool to 90 per cent Strength and glide like but­ter!

Ap­ply a pat­tern

For the royal pat­tern, I cre­ate half of an icon, then mir­ror a copy of that half to cre­ate a sym­met­ri­cal de­sign. Now that we have a sin­gle icon on its own layer, I’ll du­pli­cate that layer so that we have two copies of the same icon. Us­ing Free Trans­form, I place the copy so it’s the next icon in the pat­tern. Hit Ctrl+ Shft+Alt+T and Pho­to­shop makes the next step in the pat­tern. Re­peat!

In­tro­duce a tex­ture

My paint­ings al­ways have a crisp dig­i­tal feel to them – yuck – so it’s time to go out­side and shoot some grunge photos. On a layer mode of your choice, com­bine the shot of my photo tex­ture and a de­tailed crop from an oil paint­ing to give this dig­i­tal art­work 100 years of per­son­al­ity. You can even add a can­vas tex­ture if you like.

Make use of Dodge and Burn

It’s easy to cover some ground with the Dodge and Burn tools. Turn off Pro­tect tones and set the ex­po­sure to, say, 13 per cent. Use Dodge (high­light) to de­velop nice warm high­lights, and Burn (mid-tones) for your colour­ful shad­ows. I’m care­ful not to overdo this.

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