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Your Help would be greatly appreciated

I have been working on a painting from Velazquez and there is a part of it I can't get right. This is the reflection in the mirror. You can see the original painting here:
The painting is all done and I'm very happy with the results...except for the face :( I must have done this over 10 times now. Wiping off the canvas and starting over and over. On the original it is very smudgy and I have had the inside of the mirror photograph developed several times but it's so dark that I have a hard time to differentiate the colors on the dark and shiny photo.
I know some of you are Photoshop wizard. Can someone do a polarized version of this to help me see where the colors are and what they are? Or maybe someone can give me some trick on how to proceed for this section.


  • I can't help you there but I've done quite a few old master copies and know how frustrating it can be. It really helps me when I'm thinking in terms of abstract shapes and masses rather than features of a face. One of the tricks I use to see things in abstract terms is to turn the image and my drawing upside down and copy it that way. Good luck!
  • I'm not sure what one might do to this photo in photoshop that would be very beneficial. The only good way to create a good representation of the face is to start with a good drawing and then color match very carefully. The fact that the colors are similar in hue and in value makes it tricky to do, granted, but I can't really think of any photoshop trick that would make it any easier. Sometimes I'll use photoshop to desaturate (make it black and white) an image so that I can look at the values (light and darkness) a little more easily but I don't think that's what you're asking? Maybe you could elaborate on your problem a bit? Not sure I understand exactly.
  • Sorry, I think I used the wrong word. Pixelated maybe? On the video at 13:34 and 14:18 it shows the face and because this is not high definition, we can see a bit of the blocks of colors. But it's a video. What I would like is a picture showing this. Does that make sense?
  • edited May 2014
    The large version on your wiki link is as good as you'll get. It looks as though Velazquez painted the original in a blurry manner using muted colors that are very close in value, so there's not much that can be done other than copying it that way.
  • edited May 2014
    What do you mean by photograph/develop/shiny ? Did you happened to take photos of the original at a museum? Is it shiny because of the use of flash or glare on the glass?

    At wikipedia there's a very useful 10 megabyte file that shows plenty of colors in that area even though they're so close in value. If you use Mark's color checker you should be able to get all those little variations accurately.


    If you are viewing it in your computer display, perhaps it's an issue with the display settings.

    I watched the video you posted and made a few changes to the original image from wikipedia. This is as close as I could get based on how I see it on my screen.


    ******************** W A R N I N G **********************

  • Thanks to all for your comments. Castillo, I had the photo of the face made at a photo developer store using the photo in Wikipedia. When I say shiny, I mean glossy from the laminating of the picture. Because it is glossy and dark it make it hard to see the colors. I just went back to the shop this morning and asked the clerk to do a photo a bit lighter and she redid 2. She showed them to me before laminating them. It's surprising how the laminating process darken a photo. But I will try again using the lightest one. I place it on my painting and the shade and color seems to work with the rest of the painting. I think I was working from a photo too dark.
    When I was living in the UK, I would go to the National Gallery regularly and look at this painting. I purchase the poster at the museum, telling myself that one day I would give it a try. My painting is big, way bigger then the poster and I end up using several references, Wikipedia photo on my computer, my iPad, a smaller picture, the poster... so I know what you mean in your warning. I think I manage to stay pretty much in the same set of colors so far but I had a lots of frustration during the process. This morning I was looking for a photo with less pixels so I could see the blocks of colors on the face. thanks again.
  • Lucie said:

    This morning I was looking for a photo with less pixels so I could see the blocks of colors on the face. thanks again.

    So is this what you needed?

  • Yes! Thanks a million!
  • LucieLucie -
    edited February 2018
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