Working from laptop screen or cell phone screen

 I have one question, now it has become very common to paint from laptop screen or cell phone screen. The screens have a brightness which may effect judging true values. What is the best method to work from laptop or cell phone ? Does colour checker work?Thanks in advance. 


  • @Roxy thanks for the link. The discussions look very complex to me. However I'll give it a try. 
  • edited June 2021
    I'm about to start a new, very large painting (42" X 42") and I'll be using my tablet screen instead of printed photos and my usual colour notes. It's going to be a juggling act trying to get my tablet where I need it on the canvas but I'm so over prints - they are nowhere near as lifelike as the colours I get on a monitor and the time spent tiling a large photo and the expense of ink and photo paper are just ridiculous. And I'm too old to be standing out in the weather on top of mountains at 43 degrees south in winter to do it all plein air. And I always have to go back and forth between the print and my colour notes which is enough to drive you bonkers.

    If it goes ok I'll post the result in the Post your Paintings sub-forum.  :)
  • You need some kind of flexible arm/mount for your tablet Rob :)
  • Soumyajit

    Michael James Smith paints from a tablet/monitor always. He has lots of demo paintings on YouTube.
    On this link he describes the five essential pieces of equipment.

  • Thanks, @Richard_P. Yes, I need someone with manual skills and technical knowhow to help me rig up something. Sticking my tablet to the canvas with BlueTrack is not ideal.  :)

    Thanks, @Dencal. That setup looks almost right for me.  I just need the tablet flat against the canvas so I can see it and the area I'm painting at the same time in the same plane so I can see that what I've painted is accurate. I look at the reference, mix, lay in a stroke, then stand back to see if what I've painted looks more or less the same as the reference. I can only do this if I can see both my painting and the reference in the same plane.  The setup in your photo looks as if the screen could be turned so it's in the same plane as the canvas. The only problem is raising and lowering it on a 42" X 42" canvas to sit next to the area I'm painting. With prints that's not a problem - I just stick'em on with BlueTrack. I will have already made adjustments in Affinity Photo to get the colour of the prints as close to my colour notes as possible. But it's difficult to get my tablet flush with the canvas. I'm still working on a solution.     :)
  • Can you not get a double ended clamp so you can clamp one end to the canvas frame and the other to the tablet?
  • @tassieguy all the best sir ✌ I'm also going to start a new portrait just waiting for gesso. My reference image 
  • @dencal ya I've been following MJS for years. But I've seen him painting landscapes. For painting landscapes I think we can trust our observations with naked eyes but for portraits I think we need more accuracy in terms of values and colours to achieve high realism. However so far I've painted everything based on observations only. Will experiment with tools like colour checker now 😊
  • edited June 2021
    Oh, what a wonderful subject!!! Such character! Her long life is etched on her skin but the fine bone structure that has supported it is still there in her face. And I love all the cool blues around her warm skin tones. I don't do portraits but if I did I would love to paint this.  :)
  • Cheers, @Richard_P. I've been to the hardware store and bought two sets of clamps that I think might work without putting too much pressure on the tablet. I'll continue using BlueTack as a backup.  :)
  • As far as colour checking is concerned, I assume you can use a colour checker,  You can use an acetate film over your monitor.  You can also buy transparent sticki/post it notes, up to 3"x3".  You can put those on you monitor, and paint on them to see the match.  Then you can tile them around your palette, and use as reference.

    You can also take your picture to a program that will allow you to develop spots with the colours you will use as a guide for mixing all your colours.  These can be printed, put under clear plastic film and mixed directly on.That will still leave you with final mixing to do.  It shouldn't be that you have to do this for every colour, but it can be worth it if there is one that is difficult.

    For values, you can grayscale your photo, by changing your picture setting, or print out a B&W version of your picture.  You can try red glasses, squinting, or you can look through another phone set to B&W
  • @tassieguy what about something like this. I have a magnetic phone car mount, with a disk stuck to the back of my phone, and a holder with a magnet. With the magnet on the back of the canvas the phone is attached to the front of the painting just fine. With a bigger tablet you may need a more powerful magnet, but it should work. In fact with the magnet I have it almost works with aluminum panel too, but not quite. My guess would be one of those rare earth magnets you can buy from bunnings or jaycar (apologies to non-aussies) would hold it solid even through the ACP. More secure than blutack 🙂

  • edited June 2021
    Roxy, your a genius! That's a marvelous idea! 

    Just a couple of questions:

    How did you attach the magnet mount to the back of the canvas? Or does magnet and the phone together hold everything in place?

    Is there any danger that the magnet could affect the workings of the tablet? I'm thinking that if it doesn't affect your phone it probably wouldn't affect the tablet either but electromagnetism can do funny things.

    Thanks, @Roxy:)

  • Rob, the magnet stays put all on its own because it’s stuck by magnetism to the metal plate on the back of the phone, with the canvas sandwiched in between. I presume it has no effect on the phones workings as that’s what it’s designed to do  - I’ve used it for ages in the car as a hands free solution and my phone is fine. The rubber bit on the back of the magnet has a split in it which allows the phone to be attached to the air vent on the dashboard. 

  • Thanks, @Roxy. I'm off to Bunnings to get a magnet.  :)
  • @tassieguy you’ll need a metal plate of some sort too to stick to the back of the phone, as I don’t think the magnet will hold well enough, or maybe not at all, without it. I can’t remember where I got my phone holder, but if you can find one of those they come with metal plates of different sizes, with adhesive backs.  
  • Thanks, Roxy. I'll probably find one at an auto accessories place. Or I could just stick any old bit of steel plate to the back of the tablet. 
  • Personally, I find the cell phone a bit too small.   
    My PC lives under my large screen tv and I run it through the tv.  I have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard I use to run it.  I find the tv screen with my pictures on it is fantastic.    I can have the painting and the picture the same size, which makes things easier when doing the initial mapping out drawings on the canvas.   
     I can also zoom in on tricky areas if I want to see some detail. 
    I can also have a couple of screens open at the same time and view them all at once; whilst listening to audio books and podcasts on youtube!   I can have a black and white copy of the photo for values, as well as a colour photo on screen at the same time.   I often work from more than one picture also.
    I put my easel on wheels, and can easily place it anywhere around the tv screen that suits. 
    As far as colour checking goes,I have not made a colour checker yet.  I bought an eye bolt the other day, and now need to shape a wood block.  
    Hope this helps.
  • edited June 2021
    The cell phone is too small for me. That's why I'm going to use my tablet. That way I can get a decent portion of the reference on the canvas to work from. I suppose a big screen TV would be better but I have a very small studio so will have to make do. I do my colour checking before I even start worrying about a reference photo. I do that on site, that is, en plein air, because prints are hopeless in terms of colour. But I'm hoping that with a tablet on my canvas I will have to rely less on plein air colour notes. In the past I have used the reference photo mainly for detail and to help get proportions right. With a tablet on my canvas I'm hoping I'll also be able to use my photos for colour, too. I'm too old to be standing on mountain tops battling cold, wind and rain and pesky passers-by to go on making plein air colour notes. I'm hoping it will be enough that I've been to the site, taken mental note of the colours and taken some good photos that I'll be able to view on my tablet as I paint. All I need now is a big magnet and a metal plate on the back of my tablet. I'm working on that. @Roxy's idea is a stroke of genius. It's one of those, Ah, yes, how-silly-of-me-not-to-have-thought-of-that things.  :)
  • Out of curiosity I went and bought one of these magnets yesterday. 

    I can confirm they are easily capable of holding an iPad in place, very securely. I stuck a small flat steel plate to the back of the iPad with blue tack. 

    In fact the magnet is strong enough to hold the iPad in place even through aluminum panel (below). I’m currently using a computer monitor (for the first time) adjacent to the easel. The panel is covered and still wet as I touch things up, but I might try this method for the next painting. It would certainly free up some space in my small work area.

  • That's awesome, @Roxy. My problem is solved. So simple. And no need for some expensive mechanical arm and bracket type setup. Brilliant!  :)
  • edited July 2021
    Hey, @Roxy et al, I did it. Voila, no hands:

    Those rare earth magnets are awesome! Now I just need to find a thinner steel plate to put on the back of my tablet so it sits more flush with the canvas. All I had was a big washer that was about 4mm thick.  @Roxy, what do you call that thing you have on the back of yours? I should be able to get it at Bunnings but I don't know what to ask for.  :)
  • edited July 2021
    Rob, you have the canvas the wrong way round.... :p;)
  • edited July 2021
    Yes, thank you, Richard.  :p 

    There's nothing on the front side of the canvas but it's stained a dark colour and the tablet didn't show up very well so I turned it around. I recycled the stretcher bars from an old failure and put a new canvas on them but haven't got around to painting on it yet. :)
  • An old failure? I thought all your paintings worked! :D
  • Does the magnet leave a mark on the canvas? 
  • Good to see it’s working for you @tassieguy. I dunno what that plate is called, but here is a pic. In Bunnings its with the brackets, and they come in a range of sizes and shapes. I stuck mine onto the tablet with double sided tape as the blue tack slipped and I didn’t fancy my tablet falling off and smashing. Yep, those magnets are strong beasts. I screwed mine into a block of plastic and attached a knob to make it easier to handle. @marinos_88, in the photo you can see I taped two strips of green felt to the plate to prevent any marking, but it didn’t really need it as the metal plate is smooth, and so is the magnet. 

  • edited July 2021
    Thanks, @Roxy. I was at Bunnings the other day and bought the magnets there. Whilst there I tried to find something that looked like your metal plate but couldn't find anything but a big steel washer. I bought that and with the magnets it holds the tablet great but it's too thick. I also searched Bunnings online but no luck. I cropped the plate out of the picture you posted earlier and did an online image search but nothing came up that looks like your plate. So, as a last resort, I'll take a print of the photo of it into Bunnings and ask "Do you have these?" If not, I know they have sheets of thin steel about a meter square. They're way too big but not very expensive and I'll be able to cut it with a hack saw to get a bit the right size for the back of my tablet.  There's a solution to every problem. You've just have to find it.   :)

    I, too, thought of the double-sided tape to attach the steel plate to the back of my tablet as I don't really trust the Blu Tack which also adds a couple of millimeters to the backing whereas tape is really thin.  With the thin steel and the thin tape the tablet should be pretty flush with the canvas. I'm nearly there and will have it sorted before I start the next painting. But that may not be started for a little while as have to go into hospital on Monday for a wee operation before I even finish the one I'm doing now but if all goes well I should be home in a day or two.  :/
  • edited July 2021
    @Marinos_88, the magnet left no mark on my canvas but I didn't have it on for very long. If it does leave an indentation the way to get rid of it will be to wet the back of the canvas a little. This causes shrinking and tightening. Or maybe just tapping in the keys a bit will be enough. Much less work and much cheaper than tiling and printing out dozens of photos for a 40" X 40" painting.  How silly of me not to have thought of magnets before. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. Thanks again to @Roxy for coming up with the idea.  :)
  • dencaldencal -
    edited July 2021

    Bunnings made by Dunnings.

    Lots of sizes and shapes.
    If you select your store the catalogue will give you the aisle and bay number to locate the brackets.
    The Glenorchy store has them in aisle 11 bay 9.

  • edited July 2021
    Bingo! Thank you, @Dencal. Found it. I had  look and it's there on the Bunnings website. Great! Will pick one up tomorrow.  Ain't this forum great!  :)
  • edited July 2021
    And check this out guys.

    Also at Bunnings:

    Carinya 100 x 40 x 100 x 50 x 1mm L Mending Plate Make-A-Bracket

    Only 1mm thick and $1.30 a piece:

    Carinya 100 x 40 x 100 x 50 x 1mm L Mending Plate Make-A-BracketTwo of these will be prefect.  :)
  • tassieguy said:
    And check this out guys.

    Also at Bunnings:

    Carinya 100 x 40 x 100 x 50 x 1mm L Mending Plate Make-A-Bracket

    Only 1mm thick and $1.30 a piece:

    Carinya 100 x 40 x 100 x 50 x 1mm L Mending Plate Make-A-BracketTwo of these will be prefect.  :)
    That's the stuff. You will find they come in a range of shapes, including a flat rectangle, but I could only find this long one and cut in half. Two of these will save you that cutting step.
  • Folks

    These galvanised plates are pretty rough around the edges and will easily damage the surface of the iPad. Suggest a rub over with some fine sand paper or Emory cloth.


  • edited July 2021
    Thanks, @Dencal.  I got the metal plates today at Bunnings. The double-sided tape I used to attach the plates to my tablet protect the tablet from direct contact with the plates so it's all good. Those plates worked a treat. The tablet screen only sits out from the canvas a few millimeters and the magnets make the attachment rock solid. So solid it takes a bit of effort to actually detach the tablet from the canvas - it'll never fall off. It's great.  :)

  • edited July 2021
    It is very difficult to match colors looking at the screen. Although, I paint in a very different way just by judging shape, value and temperature on the canvas itself rather than against the source but I do need to check colors sometimes. 

    I have windows on both sides and that's the same light that I use for painting (natural light and a bulb above). When I feel the need to match a color (I do this very rarely though), I put it in front of my screen in such an angle that receives the light from the window (just changing the angle of my wrist slightly). When it looks wrong I change it accordingly. 
  • Rob

    This much double sided would have adhered the iPad to the canvas without magnets and steel plates. Could only be moved once or twice though.

    I really think the solution is to use an articulated arm to bring the image into an aligned parallel with your painting and move/zoom as required.

  • edited July 2021
    Thanks for your thoughts on this, @Dencal.

    I only have a small studio and I'm pretty sure an arm/bracket device would get in my way.

    I stand as I paint and I move back and forwards to look at my work after each few brush strokes and I'd be always bumping into an arm/bracket device and that would move the tablet. And I absolutely don't want it to move. The magnets are so strong that, once on the canvas, the tablet doesn't move a millimeter even when I bump it. It actually takes a bit of effort to detach it and that's what I want.  I am super happy with the tablet and magnets. The metal plate is so thin (1mm) that the tablet still fits nicely into its case and when I want to paint all I have to do is take it out of the case and stick it on the canvas. It's magic. 

    I'm so glad @Roxy came up with this idea because I would never have thought of it. He has the sort of brain that can think outside the box. The cost of the metal plate and magnets was about $20. So it was a perfect solution to my problem and an incredibly cheap one.  And the savings on ink cartridges and photo paper will be huge. Not to mention the time I'll save that was spent tiling, printing and cutting prints to size. And because the colour on a monitor is better than on a print I might be able to get away from having to make so many on-site colour notes. My next painting after I finish the one I'm doing now, will be from the tablet screen. Tough luck for Epson and Office Works. I've spent far too much money with them already on ink and photo paper.   :)
  • Well I used to hang my kid’s pictures on the refrigerator with magnets 
    this seems to be an extension of that 
    @tassieguy I hope all goes well with your procedure
    getting the tube where least desirable myself in two days for kidney stones but pray not to have the other as you are

  • edited July 2021
    Hey, @BOB73, don't let it rattle you, man. You'll have bruised and sore kidneys for another few days after they explode those pesky stones with sonic waves but then the pain will go and you'll be as good as new. 

    I wish rare earth magnets would work for prostatic hyperplasia as well as they do for tablets and that tablets would work for my other problems. But tablets are no good for prostate problems. Duodart didn't help me at all. So looks like the electric ablation treatment for me. Zap! I'll be pissing razor blades for a week after but, hopefully, after that I'll be peeing like a horse and will be able to paint for two hours straight without having to water the horses every five minutes. :)
  • Ouch
     I would say I feel your pAin brother but that would sound too s&m 
    any way good luck and use the anti-shark strategy (avoid urinating as long as you can)
  • edited April 1
    How is this relevant to the OP? The question was about painting from a screen and not about security or computing power. Your response is a bit like a spambot post but without the SPAM link. 

    Edit : I flagged it too Richard and it's gone now. Just thought I'd mention it so no one thinks my post refers to BOB73's post.  :)
  • It's spam Rob.. I flagged it.
  • Richard_P said:
    It's spam Rob.. I flagged it.
    At first I thought it was spam,  then I wondered if the poster is referring to the use of something like photoshop?   Suggesting a computer is overall more useful if you have to chose between one or the other?
  • Cheers, Richard. I flagged it, too. It's gone.  :)
  • edited April 1
    @tassieguy  @Richard_P

    If anyone gets a message from me on here about canned meat dont open it.

    Its SPAM

  • toujours said:
    Richard_P said:
    It's spam Rob.. I flagged it.
    At first I thought it was spam,  then I wondered if the poster is referring to the use of something like photoshop?   Suggesting a computer is overall more useful if you have to chose between one or the other?
    It's their first post in a thread years ago, that doesn't quite make sense. It's spam.. :)
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