Top 10 Tips for Painting From Photos with Ian Roberts

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In this video, learn artist Ian Roberts’ top 10 ways to use photos to make great paintings! In this Ian boils down all the lessons from his new Mastering Composition from Photos video instruction series to guide you through the most important things to keep in mind when painting from photos.

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  1. What about using photos you find online? I would like to hear your opinion on that since everyone seems to be worried about plagarism these days. thanks!

  2. There are pitfalls to painting from photos.
    Usually, shadows are darker than they are in reality.
    One can often tell that a photo was used because the shadows in the painting are black!

    Also many current photos show both near and distant objects with the same degree of sharp focus.
    You principle subject should be more distinct than subordinate subjects.

    And, as was mentioned, it is easy to want to show in your painting every detail.
    This kills a painting.
    Inexactitude forces the viewer to do some work.
    A photo tells everything and the viewer is passive.
    A painting that is somewhat ambiguous and unfinished makes the viewer an active partner.

  3. About the sixth comment: Strong areas of value contrast are key.
    True, the eye is drawn to areas of contrast.
    Light against dark is a way to create contrast but that isn’t the only way.
    The Impressionists, instead of relying on value contrast, used color contrast:
    saturated color against muted neutrals,
    warm colors against cool colors,
    colors paired with their complementary color etc.
    Placing sharp edges amid an area of soft edges draws the eye.

  4. I have your book on composition and always benefit from any of your marvelous art instruction. Thank you! Keep teaching!!!

  5. Bottom line, if you cannot paint a painting from the real thing, either an animal, a person, a still life or scenery, as good as painting those from photographs, stop using photographs until you can. Otherwise it is cheating or just an illustrator, not artist.

  6. One thing I always do when taking landscape photos for painting is to take a seperate photograph of the sky. Take a photo of the landscape and the sky goes light, and you lose all the definition in the clouds. Zoom in on the sky and the landscape goes dark, it helps to have seperate photos of both.

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