|T h e Q u i l l I n F o c u s|
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A photographic re-construction of "Hylas and the Nymphs," by John William Waterhouse, using multiple layers, in Adobe Photoshop, over a layer of watercolour painting. This picture was awarded a medal in the London Salon of Photography 2002 and accepted for the Royal Photographic Society Print Exhibition 2002. Carol Tipping.
Software used: Adobe Photoshop. Painter 7.
This project took several weeks.
1. This project was originally intended to be a reconstruction of the whole painting by John Waterhouse but it soon became apparent that there were several separate images to be taken from this painting which stood up in their own right as complete compositions. A charcoal pencil drawing, on A3 watercolour paper, was made from the original painting. The paper was soaked, taped on to a drawing board, dried and thus stretched ready for the application of watercolour.
2. The watercolour was as close in outline to the original as possible. This was to provide a template on to which the photographs could be overlaid. Any detailed painting could be executed in Painter 7 at any other time during the making of the picture by saving the picture with layers intact as a psd file, flattening the layers in the image and opening in Painter7. Any painting could then be saved in Painter and re-opened in Photoshop as an additional layer. The painting was scanned, using an A4 flatbed scanner, into the computer. This had to be done in two parts and joined together in Photoshop.
For the first nymph, on the right, a photograph of my model, Sarah, was moved over on to the watercolour background as a new layer, re-scaled and rotated to fit the background by using Edit.Free Transform. (Before using the Edit.Transform command it is necessary to reduce the opacity of the layer so that you can see the underlying background to make a good fit.) The model wore artificial flowers, attached by wires, which could be erased later if not needed as an integral part of the picture.
4. For the second nymph, on the left, another portrait photograph was moved over on to the picture, re-scaled and rotated as in step 3. Perspective was applied during the Transform process. This was because the face of the watercolour nymph was looking down slightly. The photographed face was looking straight at the camera. By using the Edit.Transform.. Perspective. command, the face could be widened slightly at the top, so giving the illusion of a lowered face. (When selecting the face from the original photograph I used the Lasso Tool very quickly and arbitrarily.)
5. The two faces, each on their own separate layer, fitted the background well. There was tidying up to do on both layers - because I made very loose selections and because there were artificial leaves on the original photographs which had to be erased or made to be an integral part of the image. The layers are in Normal blending Mode at a reduced capacity so that the background painting can be seen for the purpose of erasing and cloning the pieces of layers to fit the background. The image was flattened so that it could be transported to Painter but saved with layers intact
6. The flattened image was opened in Painter 7 and several sessions of painting, using the Airbrush, were done over a couple of days. The aim was to blend the layers with the background and add substance to the watercolour where there was no overlying photograph. The arms, breasts and bodies of the nymphs had to be painted to fit the faces and background. The file was saved as a jpeg and re-opened in Photoshop. The painted layer was moved over on to the main picture.
7. A lily-flower was added to the picture by loosely selecting it from the photograph and dragging it over to the main image. I used Edit.Transform.Scale. to make it fit successfully in the space below the nymphs. The lily-flower's layer has also been copied over to another version of the Nymphs series. (Many of my layers re-appear in other pictures, perhaps resized, re-shaped or in different Blending Modes.)
8. The water-lily was changed from Normal to Screen Blending Mode. This was a process of trying all the Blending modes - using the Down Arrow key to scroll down each one until the best effect is achieved. The photograph blended in with background well and still allowed the underlying painting to show through the layer. I added a water-lily leaf but took it out again as it distracted from the simplicity of the picture.
9. The layers, shown in Normal Blending Mode, were still not blending in to the picture and needed to be changed from Normal to Multiply Blending Mode. If a layer still did not appear to blend well into the background it might have needed a Duplicate Layer in yet another Blending Mode. The way I worked was by seeing what the image looked like at different stages of blending and by the addition of Duplicate Layers and new blending Modes.
10. Although the original project had been to re-create the whole of the Waterhouse painting I found that there were little gems within the painting, which made pictures in their own right. I made several images from this idea, which became part of a series entitled "Nymphos". The pictures did actually fit together to make a whole but still need a long session of painting to bring them together to make the whole painting. That is another project.
11. The completed picture. Nympho 1.