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Codename "Sarah"

This page also includes production notes.

Image 01Click to download the original (higher-resolution) image...

Gallery Notes

Project information


 » Timeframe: May 2004, approximately one hour
 » Software used: Paint Shop Pro 6

Production notes


I was playing around with Paint Shop Pro one autumn evening in 2004, just to pass some time before I had to go somewhere... Although my experimentation didn't have a particular purpose, through some freak of nature I discovered a fairly painless way to simulate the textured appearance of real-life brush strokes.

Unfortunately for me, since this creation above wasn't a proper 'project' for me and because it was completed in just over an hour, I didn't have the foresight to save the PSP document I was working in (which would include all the separated layers and my original random experiments). All I have left of this project is a flattened JPG version of the picture, & even that was almost lost too.

Because this was a half-serious and fairly rushed job, and because I don't have the source document anymore, I'm not entirely sure how I achieved this "painterly" look so easily. In the past I've attempted to duplicate my efforts here using varying methods, but I never did end up acheiving the same results as seen in this original project...

For anyone interested, here is how the image was probably created, to the best of my memory...:

  1. Coloured blobs
    I remember getting started using the standard PSP paintbrush, setting the size to around 80 pixels and just blocking out a very rough approximation of a face on a blank canvas.
     
    Normally this is done to define the shape of a face, but in this case my aim was just to figure out what colours should go where. I tried to use a realistic range of colours in this initial stage — starting from the highlight on her nose, moving into the nose shadow, across her cheek and finally to show depth in her hair.
     
  2. Smear campaign
    The second step was to push, smear and smudge these blobs of colour into a form that more closely resembled a portrait. Paying attention to the way the colours mixed became important, especially considering where the shadows needed to fall across the face & hair.
     
    Even though I used these tools to add shape and form to the face, at the end of this stage the portrait is still quite undetailed and blurry. If you squinted really hard at it, the image might look OK, but otherwise it still looked like a bit of a mess...
     
  3. Painting the paint
    On a separate layer, through some combination of brush type, blend mode (and possibly drop-shadow), I began painting a greyscale "bump map" for where I thought the brush strokes should go.
     
    When this greyscale layer was blended with the layer below it (the coloured blobs), the result was a textured finish that adds depth. Shown to the right is one of my first tests of this method, showing both the greyscale brush texture by itself (bottom) and then combined with a series of colour layers (top).
     
    For the final portrait, I needed to make sure that I used similar stroke lengths and directions so that the simulated brush textures on the top layer realistically matched the smudged/pushed colours on the bottom layer.
     
  4. Finishing touches
    After I'd finished the main brush strokes, I basically repeated steps 1 and 2 again on a new layer, this time adding in more detail to the eyes and mouth. I probably would've re-simulated the paint effect for those areas as well, but I'm guessing that's when I dropped the project to go do whatever it is I had to do...
     
    Shame I didn't keep the original document though, otherwise I'd be a lot less vague when attempting to recreate the whole process a few years after the fact. :(