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The secrets of drawing a portrait from a photograph

Creativity is influenced not only by the inspiring world around, but also by the tools and technologies inherent in a given time.
Photography is a tool that in the shortest possible time from the moment of invention took the most important place in the art of painting, and had a great influence on it. This is especially true of portrait painters.

When drawing from a photo, it is not necessary to force the model to pose for hours, and in addition, the camera allows you to capture a fleeting facial expression and the position of the strands, which cannot be maintained for a long time by a living model.What is it, the model cannot even hold the pose for hours – no, no, and it will bend over, turn around, stoop. And if we are talking about a children’s portrait, then a photo is often the only way to make a child freeze.

Of course, drawing from nature will not replace anything, and artists still break spears around the topic of using photographs, but even such recognized masters as Picasso, Degas and Calo used this technique.

The advantages of drawing from a photo are obvious to almost everyone, but there are traps in this method that are best avoided. We will analyze them.

Distance and cropping
When shooting a portrait, you should always pay attention to the distance to the subject and the correct cropping. If you shoot from a distance, then the photo may be too much background on which the face is simply lost. In general, the photo can be cropped later, but when shooting from afar, the photo of the face can be illegible, the details will be lost on it. Too close should not be taken either, because this way you lose the balance between the background and the foreground, and pasting up the background on the computer is not always available, and it’s not easy for everyone. Yes, and facial features are distorted when the lens is too close. In general, observe the measure.

The importance of lighting
Good lighting helps to study the shape of the object. It is best to use daylight, or the only electric light source. Really good lighting is one in which you see the maximum number of tone transitions in the portrait, no details are highlighted and at the same time do not disappear into the shadows. It will be easier to evaluate this on a black and white version of the picture. Ideally, on a black and white photo you will see a large number of gradations – from white to black.



Shooting technique
You should not use the flash, as it will make the face of the model flat. But a simple monophonic background will help to make out the face in all details. Setting the white balance will help adjust the overall color temperature.

Use your own photos whenever possible.
This will not only help to avoid copyright problems: a work created by your own photo will be completely yours in every sense, because you take photos in your own manner and exactly as you see. But self-portraits, of course, it’s better not to paint with a “selfie” full of various distortions, so for a self-portrait, ask someone to take a picture of you.

Do not copy one-to-one
If you are not hyperrealist, you can omit some details, some highlight, “correct” the model’s hair. Remember that the similarity in the portrait is achieved more due to the correctly transmitted chiaroscuro than small details.

Photo is not an exact copy of reality
Colors can be distorted, textures can blur, and shadows and dark areas can be much darker than in reality, due to which details will be lost in the shadows. If you keep this in mind all the time, then you can fix all the flaws of the photo in your work.

Good luck in painting!

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