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Friday, April 08, 2011

Adjusting Photos for Better Reference Photos

Desaturated and Fade Adjusted
When drawing from photos much of the information we need to draw a convincing three dimensional image is lost.  Photos are only two dimensional and with this flattening of the image and lost detail the artist needs to be able to understand how the subjects form is in real life to create the illusion of a three dimensional object.  A strong understanding of tonal values really helps with this but often color photos can be harder to determine the tonal values from.

So, why not make life easier and convert the image to grayscale with a simple click in Photoshop?  This is what I used to do and found it much easier to see the values, however, details were lost and the contrast was slightly altered.  I thought it was just a compromise I had to make.  Then I stumbled upon the Desaturate button :) I really should play with my software more as I am sure it can do a zillion things to make my life easier!

So by using Desaturate and Fade photos are converted to black and white without loosing any of the details and keeping the bright highlights and deep rich darks. Instructions are below for Photoshop but I would imaging other software packages the process is similar.

Desaturating Images in Photoshop

Open your image in Photoshop

Create a duplicate layer to work with so that you do not lose any pixels from your original image 

Make sure you are on the duplicate layer and Desaturate the image by clicking Shift + Ctrl U or Image --> Adjustments --> Desaturate

Immediately click on Edit --> Fade Desaturate (if this is grayed out, you need to go back to immediately after Desaturating image

On the pop up box, select Color This extra step allows the Desaturation to only affect the colors in the photo, not the brightest values 

So by just taking a few extra steps you get a much richer, better quality black and white photo to work from.  Click on the photos at the top to compare. While the differences are subtle, they make a huge difference when drawing what you can see!


Janice said...

Great tip - thanks for sharing!

Tracey said...

Glad you enjoyed it, every bit helps ;)