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StudioSense: Fake Painting Tips

This blog article is an update to one published in March of 2018. The final version of the painting "Woodland Waltz" is posted at the bottom.


A while back I discovered how to use the software application Paint.NET to "try out" changes to a painting in-progress without actually changing the painting with pastels.

Although Paint.NET offer a variety of drawing tools that you can overlay onto an image of a REAL painting in-progress, I have found that the airbrush tool works wonders!

Here is a version of a landscape in the works, prior to reviewing and adjusting with Paint.NET. It is a scene from a hike in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore:

I saved the image of this painting on my computer's hard drive, then opened it from the Paint.NET application. Note the airbrush marks, discussed below:

I used lighter value colors with the airbrush to convey lighting highlights in the sky and a bit on the ground. Conversely, I wanted to convey deep shade and darker values near the distant pines on the right. You can see a variety of airbrushed colors added.

Here is an updated version of the painting after applying the concepts of the airbrush.

Then with the version above, I had a heyday with Paint.NET. After some further practice with the airbrush tool, I decided to take another stab at modifying elements of the landscape.

The neat thing is that you can create any value of color by adding black, white, and merging the color with another hue. The palette box of colors below is the grouping of colors I worked with for this painting. Note the circled area, where I created three different values of yellow-green, to apply to the distant pines reflecting the sunlight.

I applied these yellow-green colors to the pines on the horizon, as well as on the foreground (large) tree. I set my airbrush and ready to go. See the revisions done of the above painting using the Paint.NET application.

Notice how you can blot the paint colors throughout the canvas. This exercise helped to identify where I will place more highlights and snow on the ground. I'll take this fake version to use as a reference for the real painting.

You can use the tool to change values and colors in the landscape. This is not meant to replace proper planning for a painting, including initial sketch, value study and color selection. But it does open up another dimension of creativity and can certainly spice up your work!

Here is the final version of "Woodland Waltz:"

Note for those artists photographing their paintings. The final version of the painting (directly above) was photographed in natural light. The preceding images were photographed in my studio in artificial light (plain old light bulbs). You will notice that the blues under artificial light are exaggerated (as well as other colors to a certain extent). When photographing artwork for submission into juried shows, it is important to convey the image as close to the original as possible, and that is where natural lighting will do the trick.

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