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My first attempt at a 'watercolor'
« on: December 07, 2012, 02:53:48 PM »
I've been messing around with filters for a while to try and get a watercolor / painted effect. I'm trying to broaden my horizons by doing something approaching art instead of my usual morph stuff. Any comments appreciated !   The original image is a candid shot I took.



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Re: My first attempt at a 'watercolor'
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 12:38:03 PM »
That is a good first attempt.

What program(s) are you using. In my work I am often asked to "artsy up" an otherwise hardline or too crisp image or drawing to make the rendition more conceptual or sketchy. My tool of choice is Corel PhotoPaint. It actually has some very good tools/filters and the watercolor filter does a good job right out of the box.

However when trying to approximate watercolor (when starting with a photo) remember these general points:
1) Keep in mind the nature of the medium you are trying to approximate - watercolors are transparent and blending in nature and can have an edge ranging from crisp to undefined.
2) Watercolors rarely are stronger than about mid intensity - yes they can have dark colors but the saturation is lower than with other media.
3) If you can - use several layers and blend effects and partial transparencies as it will approximate how watercolor is built.

Now the terms may be different from Photoshop however the filters I have used often for this effect include:
Edge Detect
Transparency (sometimes based on or set to color channels)
Pen Tip changes based on intensity (to approximate brush strokes)
Blurred Edges (but not all elements - again based on hue or intensity)
Slight Texture (usually some manner of watercolor paper texture)
and lots of blending

The main critique I would have is that the image is too uniform.
All that aspects read about the same. The same about of blur, same overall intensities, etc. It still looks like a photo.
There is still a bit too much detail overall and in some areas too little.
Take a look at the attached example of acrylic and watercolor of the same scene.
Note the differences and think about the real life appearance or a photo would have of the same.
Note how the watercolor even has some of the white paper showing through and the differences in how details are shown.

I have no idea where the birds went - maybe the watercolor artist brought bread crumbs.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 12:40:18 PM by Nimrod »
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Re: My first attempt at a 'watercolor'
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 03:34:02 PM »
I'll try to keep this brief, and I'm only offering my opinion because you solicited feedback.

I don't want to sound like a curmudgeon (at least not any more than I already do) but in my view (and in the view of the majority of artists I know in RL) digitally processing/filtering a photograph so that it tries to appear as though it was created using natural media rarely if ever results in the creation of anything even incidentally artistic, let alone actual 'art.'

Photography (traditional or digital) does have the potential to be art in the true sense of the word of course, and that includes photographs that have been post-processed in some fashion, either using analog/photochemical or digital techniques. But the application of such techniques doesn't make an image into 'art' if it didn't have that potential quality to begin with IMO.

I'm not an authority on this subject (or any other, truth be told) so please feel free to disregard my comments in their entirety. Having/had close friends who are professional/amateur artists all my life, me having had high-paying jobs where the word 'artist' or 'designer' appeared on my embarrassingly overpriced business cards, me having been taking photographs for even longer than the 30+ years I've been using computers with graphics... none of those things make me an artist... I'm not. I do however, know something about art and a fair bit about the tools often used to make it (natural media of various types, photography, digital tools, etc...) and given what I do know, I'm pretty comfortable saying that the act of putting a photograph into an image processing program (even if you took the photo yourself, but especially if you didn't) and selecting a tool from a Filter menu and maybe nudging a couple of sliders in the GUI... the odds that the resulting image will be "art" or even just vaguely artistic are probably infinitesimal.

This is all just my opinion, and (again) I offer it only because you asked. And with that said, you already know that I'm a great fan of your morphs and I suspect that if you were to pick up a set of actual watercolors and take the time to learn how to use them, you'd surely have it in you to create (from scratch) actual original art, just as I'm sure that if Lightfoot ever did try his hand at real Linocut, he'd have the potential to create imagery that far exceeded the commodity status of the vast majority of digital images, even original ones.

« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 05:18:36 PM by Palomine »



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Re: My first attempt at a 'watercolor'
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 04:15:00 AM »
Since you asked, I will opine. Like Pal, I make no claim to art or even technical skill. However, I worked in the porn business back in that time when most of the photos that come up when you type "vintage" into a porn site were made. Virtually every photo published was worked in some way--Dodging overexposed areas, burning in underexposed areas, airbrushing negatives or positives, and so forth. Over the past ten years or so a number of previously unpublished photos have turned up, usually on e-Bay, which have not been retouched.

Your work in the photo you posted is interesting because it creates a jarring effect--Part of the brain asks, "Is it a photo or not?" If that is the effect you are going for, that's fine. I have known a few photographers who have played around with the technique, though usually not with big-boob models.

Photoshop has made available an array of tools that were not available to the most skilled photographers of my time, and I encourage you to go as far down this path as you feel comfortable. But please keep in mind one thing that art and science share--The overwhelming majority of experiments end in failure.
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Re: My first attempt at a 'watercolor'
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2016, 09:27:36 PM »
There are many digital tools that can modify images to look more like hand drawn artwork. Some are rather simplistic and are running just a modification algorithms whereas others are very sophisticated and are running numerous analytic steps to better approximate the nuances of an artist.

Often times combining several filters, tools, or applications gives the best results. Some even go so far as to allow for digital painting atop the reference work producing something very close to actual manual artwork.

I still find that Corel Photo Paint and related products have some of the better built-in tools and filters. Photoshop has some good filters with a bit more emphasis on manual manipulation of the drawing. Another currently free application is FotoSketcher which has some nice analytical routines - however make sure you have a beefy machine if you want to work on large images.

One of the images below was hand drawn by artist Karen Winter s, all were modified digitally from a reference photo.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 11:42:56 PM by Nimrod »
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Re: My first attempt at a 'watercolor'
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2016, 08:29:04 PM »
I am going to agree with Palomine, and I have done watercoloring early on in art school for architecture landscape painting for doing presentation work before computers. I came across an artist with a wicked sense of humor name Mel Ramos, so I bought one of his book. http://www.melramos.com/
Watercoloring is like Tai Chi, minimal amount effort for maximal amount of result. It is unforgivable if you over stroke the brush over the same spot. I find the book very inspirational. 
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