There are artists who paint people and then there are artists who paint ON people. If you’ve ever seen Alexa Meade in action, she takes ordinary people, paints on them so they blend into the overall scene and then photographs it. Alexa describes herself as a 25-year-old artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, photography, performance, and installation. I actually watched her apply paint on a man as he sat on stage. After she was through, it was hard to tell where the human model – once casually dressed in street clothes – disappeared to. His face, hair, neck and shirt were covered in thick layers of paint, representing varying shades of light and shadows…just like an oil painting.
If you’re not as talented as Alexa, you can paint on photos. But even some people shy away from that, for fear their inner artist will end up making a mess of a perfectly good image. Enter the world of tablet devices and painting with your fingertips. Tablet devices help anyone produce painterly effects that transform images – whether you’re a natural or still honing the craft. It’s by no means elementary, but the process is a fun one and the end result – much like Alexa’s – can leave others wondering where the real photo ends and your artwork begins.
In this next video in the Hidden Gems series, senior product manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes shares how you can use painting capabilities on a tablet device and then refine it further in Photoshop to come up with your own artistic expressions.
Seems like more and more people are experimenting with painting and photography. Why blend the two?
Bryan: They are! Having just dramatically re-worked Photoshop’s paint engine for CS5, we talked to a lot of those people and they’re doing amazing things. Painting over photographs is appealing for many reasons: you have a creative base image that you can enhance in very subtle or dramatic ways; you can camouflage composites and artifacts easily with slight strokes; you can make your image stand-out in a very unique way by manipulating it; and I find that a lot of people are enjoying turning their low-fi cell phone images into high-quality works of art. Painting photographs is just a great way to get around the limitations of a low quality image.
Art is really about expressing one’s individuality, and the convergence of stills (which anyone can capture) with paint (which unlike say a filter, is very user-driven) can yield very unique results.
Why do you personally like using Adobe Eazel?
Bryan: I’ll be the first person to admit that I got into photography because I couldn’t draw or paint – I should be clear about my lack of skills upfront! Eazel offers the very thing we all love in a tablet application – a playground for our hands; and one that can blend paint in a way that Photoshop cannot. Tablets as we know them today are rather low resolution; they aren’t especially precise and are not especially accurate with input or color – BUT, they’re fun and intuitive. Photoshop on the other hand is extremely powerful, precise and capable – the marriage of the two can yield effects not available in either as a stand-alone. My favorite use is a rather blatant rip-off of the inimitable Russell Brown video.
Paint on! You can find more Hidden Gems in Photoshop CS5 video on our YouTube channel.