alan boother




land/city ’scapes





 digital photo art




Copyright Alan Boother 2005 - 2014

Hand Crafting

digital photo art


When creating artistically rendered, digital photo art terminology such as blends, brushes, filters, canvas, masks and layers abound. Some are familiar words from traditional art and some are not. However these just refer to the tools. It's the techniques and the skill of using those tools that create the art.

An artistic work has an aesthetic, a mood and narrative which the artist chooses to express through the choice of subject, its juxtaposition relative to other objects, the background, and the choice of colour and so on and the way it is rendered to the canvas. Art is usually more expressive than a photograph.

An artist, starting with a blank canvas, has complete freedom of choice whereas starting from a photograph these are substantially constrained by that photograph. However, a photograph usually provides realistic proportions, perspectives, colouring and shading.

The digital photo art shown here includes those that just about remain recognisable as a photograph and those that could be mistaken for something created with media and tools more traditional than a graphics tablet, mouse and keyboard.

What is it, that turns a photograph into an artistically rendered picture?

What is it, that turns a photograph into an artistically rendered picture?

A useful place to start is from the 'other end' by dealing with the question, 'what is it that makes a traditional painting appear to be photorealistic'?

Photorealism results from the very accurate and convincing rendering of colours, perspective, shapes and sizes make it look as if it was from a camera and not created by hand. Perfection is the goal.

Hand painted art is recognizable by colours that are not accurate, tonal gradations that are not smooth, edges that are not precise. Simplifications and randomness abound, and the perspective and accuracy of the shapes may be distorted.

Therefore, randomness, variability and lack of precision have to be (carefully) introduced - almost the opposite of photorealism.

While a computer program can automate much with simple keystrokes, a superficial and not particularly convincing result is usually achieved. Automated effects are easily recognisable and the viewer can grow weary of them. They rarely achieve the objectives of randomness and variability in a way that a human would have and there is limited feeling of any significant 'craft' to the work.

To be more expressive and hence compelling, hand crafting of the image is required.

To be more expressive and hence compelling, hand crafting of the image is required.  

A digital 'brush' is used to blend 'paint' and create randomness to simulate different effects such as colour variation, brush type and shape, paint scattering, underlying paper texture and so on.

Digital painting is a lot like traditional art. Backgrounds are often painted first and more detailed foreground work follows. Photographic images are prepared prior to starting any of the 'painting'. They may require cleaning/changing backgrounds and adjusting colours to affect contrast, saturation or value. Multiple images may be blended to make a montage.

All tonal ranges can be worked simultaneously or alternatively working dark into light or light into dark - once again just like traditional methods. The equivalent of water colour or oil washes may be applied to unify the palette.

The intended final size of the printed picture must be considered right from the outset. The effects have to be the right scale - a 'brush' stroke that is correct at your chosen printing size will be less convincing at smaller or larger sizes.

The various combinations of settings, methods, orders of working are absolutely immense and it takes much practice and trial and error before those that work together are discovered. Consequently it is impossible to recreate an identical picture a second time.

Artistic Rendering

Hand Crafting

Artistic Rendering


Digital Photo Art combines many aspects of computer based art including digital painting, digital photography, photo manipulation and digital illustration and requires a high level of skill, creativity and inspiration to create stimulating imagery.

Roll over the links below to read my perspective.