Nomi Wagner Portrait Artist

Portrait painting from a photo of a couple in Venice

by Nomi Wagner

My client wanted to surprise her husband with a portrait painting for their anniversary.

This is her actual email comment:

“HELP!! I can’t find a photo I love!!! My favorite for the scenery is the one taken in Venice with all the gondolas… but I am not crazy about how we look. The one of us at the table I think is the best of us.”

portrait paintings from photosI asked her if she would like me to use her favorite photo of them as my reference source, yet I would paint them in the Venice setting. She was thrilled.portrait paintings from photos

I looked at a lot of Venice photos online and simplified the setting to be more beautiful and less cluttered. Luckily, I had a photo, from a previous project, of an actual marble bench that sits next to the canal in Venice. 

Using Corel Painter, I drew a digital charcoal sketch of the scene and my source photo on one layer of a .rif file.

painting from photographs

I then inserted a layer of white above that and painted with digital watercoloron a gel layer above those two. (Although my sketches are useful for pinpointing features at first, they become distracting to me as the paintings progress; therefore, the white layer enables me to turn the sketch visibility on and off.)

painting from photo

painting from photo

picture into painting

When the couple’s portraits were completed, I extracted them from their white background in Photoshop. Then I deleted the original portrait layer and painted the background and foreground in Corel Painter on a gel layer beneath the extracted portraits, now in a default layer. You can see that I actually changed parts of the painting a few times as I was working. At the end, I enlarged the portrait layer to make the couple more prominent. To finish the painting, I dropped the layers and blended them with my Soft Blender Stump in a .psd file.Finally, I uploaded the 76 mg file to Mandalay Fine Art, my husband Gerry Beane’s studio, and he printed a 20×24 on watercolor paper for my client.

Email from client:

“Thanks, Nomi…. it looks great  You are soooo talented!!!!  I don’t know what to say (except) thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!”