The other night, I posted a picture of the shadow paintings that our young women had done. Many of you asked if I would do a tutorial, so here it is! For those of you who are readers of our private blog, you can see the other pieces I've done here and here. I'm sure this isn't the only way you can do it, but I found that this was a really simple way for people to do the same thing.
This project really doesn't take very long. Maybe a couple hours for your first one. It took me about 40 minutes to do everything and I had frequent interruptions from my little Tama. :)
- Canvas (any size) Michael's always has really affordable prices for their canvases. Very cheap! Especially with their weekly 40% off coupons.
- Acrylic paint: I've used black, but I've seen lots of cool ones using gray or other colors.
- Black carbon paper: Also available at Michael's
- Photoshop: I used Photoshop Elements (PE) and the steps that follow are for this program.
-Your printed picture
STEP 1: Prepare the photo
Open a new blank file by clicking on File -> New -> Blank File.
Select the size of your canvas. I had an 8x10.
Hunt around for the picture you'd like to use and open it in PE. I wanted to do one for my co-worker as a house-warming gift. This is her cute dog named Boulder. Tips for types of images you want to use:
- Choose a simple photo. A photo with lots of people in it is not a good choice. Pick one that is relatively close up with a simple background.
Click and drag the photo onto your blank white file. Resize the image to fit onto the parameters, in my case, 8x10.
Enhance the photo, by adding a little more contrast in the picture. This generally makes the dark parts darker and the light parts lighter.
Play around with it for a bit and see what you like. Doesn't have to be dramatic... just a little boost.
Then go into Layer, and New Adjustment Layer, and select Threshold.
Play around with the threshold level to get the right balance of dark and light. Take particular note of the face. You want to make sure the eyes are relatively obvious.
Save your file as a .jpg.
Make sure you change the format as .jpg.
You'll get a pop up for jpeg options... pick whatever size you'd like. I went with 4.
This phase only took me about 4 minutes... but it may take you a little longer to get your image just right. I find that this is the trickiest part for me. If you need help, let me know.
Once you're done, print the picture out as an 8x10 but don't trim the picture to size.
STEP II: Tracing the image.
This phase is also very quick and easy. Get your picture and tape it down on two sides to the canvas using masking tape. This will help keep it in place.
Grab your black carbon paper and slide the carbon paper (dark black side down) in between the picture and canvas.
Use a sharp pencil to trace the image onto your canvas. Don't spend too much time on it. It really is just a guideline for you. Once you get that done, take off the carbon paper (save it for another time) and the picture. Keep the printed picture close.
STEP III: Paint!
Grab a thicker paintbrush and fill in the large dark parts of your painting with your acrylic paint. USE VERY LITTLE WATER, IF ANY! You want to keep the brush as dry as possible. Stay away from the lines/edges for now... just get your big black spots started. Make sure you always look on your picture before you paint... you'll be amazed at how easy it is to make a mistake at this point.
Then, grab a crappy brush. One that isn't in the best condition, a little frayed.
Use your crappy brush to do the edging by dabbing it on the edges rather that gliding the brush. As you can see, it add some great texture to your painting. The rougher the edges, the better it looks. Don't be scared. :) Also, keep in mind that while you're doing the painting, it will look weird! Don't be discouraged!
For the more defined areas, grab a really tiny brush to get the detail right on the face. DO YOUR EYES ABSOLUTELY LAST! Don't forget to stay away from using water! By the time you get to the eyes, you'll be more comfortable with what you're doing and the eyes are the most important part.
Here's how it looks after I filled in all the parts! You'll notice that I did the right eye as little differently than the picture. Take liberties as you feel comfortable. I wanted the eye to be more obvious than my computer generated image.
Once your canvas dries (it should be really fast if you didn't use a lot of water), take a thick brush and paint the sides of your canvas. Take care to only paint the sides where the black is supposed to continue on.
Wrap it up and give it to a friend!
If you have any difficulties, let me know! :) Good luck!