Skip the print process?

I recently took a workshop in which the instructor recommended working from photographs displayed on an iPad or other screen device. Assuming that the device is properly calibrated, it seems to me that the colors would be truer than what one might be able to achieve with a printer. Thoughts?


  • dencaldencal -
    edited October 2015

    Welcome to the Forum.

    Yes I agree it would be a big advantage to skip the print process. However, the difficulty is the contrast ratios observable in a transmissive image from a screen and trying to match these with the reflective contrast ratio possible with a set of oil paints.

    I have used monitors dimmed down and with calibration but the contrast adjustments that need to be made make it easier to work from a print. Though I must say I usually have a monitor image close by to zoom in on details and shadows.

    An artist friend actually uses her iPad in the same way as we use a laminated print, dabbing the paint directly on the screen image. Her paintings are great, but the iPad is a mess.

    Did any of the students in the workshop take the instructor's advice? What were the results?
    Have you tried working from a monitor?

    It does work, but there is a lot of mental adjustment for each brush stroke and that just adds effort to a tough task that should be a relaxing and creative process.


  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] admin
    edited October 2015
    @dlonergan It's a good question. Here are some links to posts I've made previously on the subject.

    Firstly, regarding "truer" colors and why I advise against working from a screen: discussion/comment/46020

    Secondly, someone asked about checking colors by dabbing paint directly on a screen (rather than using a color checker or something). While I would definitely not recommend it, here are just a few of the things you would need to do for that to work: discussion/comment/44940

    In short, I would not recommend using a screen as a source at all (and neither does Mark — painting from life is ideal, and a good laminated photo is second best), but if you were going to do it anyway, I would use a color checker rather than dabbing paint directly on the screen, and before you try it I would take note of what Mark says about using a color checker with a screen about nine and half minutes into this video:

    And by the way, welcome to the forum!
    Ron[Deleted User]
  • Thank you for you both for your insight. Dencal, yes, I did take the advice for that workshop and was pleased with the results. However, I was not trying to precisely match the colors in the reference photo, as you can likely surmise from the attached photo of the finished painting. When I was painting this painting, my image was projected on a large screen above my workspace. In my own studio, I have started another painting with my ipad set up on my easel. I am not color-matching directly on the iPad screen, in fact, I am color approximating and interpreting rather than match, but I applied a screen protector to the screen of the iPad because I am generally a messy painter! David, thank you for the references to Mark's videos. I'll have a look at them.

    dencal[Deleted User]RonHop
  • dlonergan

    Thanks for posting your painting. Looks great.

    I think you will be one of the first customers when the new HD iPad Pro comes out next month (it does here in Australia).


  • Thanks, dencal! I am not sure there is a new iPad in my future anytime soon...I am such a cheapskate - I am still using an iPad 2!
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] admin
    edited October 2015
    @dlonergan If you are not color-matching, but rather "interpreting" and choosing your colors some other way, and you're pleased with the results you're getting… then I do not think using a screen as a reference is any problem at all! Nice cat! :)

  • I love your kitty and welcome to the forum.
  • Thank you, oilpainter1950! In life, she has quite a bit of personality. She was fun to paint.
  • Yeah, I use the screen. It's cool because you can zoom in or out.
  • @anwario, Judging from your self-portrait, the using the screen rather than a print of your subject has not limited you at all. Wonderful portrait. Thank you for the comment!
  • It does kinda force me to paint a smaller area at a time than working from life. I want a larger screen if possible. Marks advice of working same size is very important. It's how one can choose a brush size. Also I find color variations depending on exactly where on the screen one compares colors. Still, the colors are generally accurate if very touchy.
  • I really like the colors in your example. They are very vibrant in contrast the subdued model :) Good stuff. Thanks for sharing!
  • Thanks Ron and D. I have tell you that it is a very touchy way though. If the monitor is leaning forward  just a little everything will have a crimson cast, if just a little back everything will be lighter and lower in chroma. One has to work from the same spot on the monitor as higher will appear light, lower will appear dark. That said, yeah that selfie was painted that way. I had to scrape off the first attempt as it was too crimson and high chroma. I am considering going back to Marks suggestion. You know a head will fit on an 8x10 and so will a hand. Painting the remaining objects in a broader manner would likely strengthen the over all image naturally. 

  • Gota paint those kittys!
  • Hi. I think working from an electronic device could be a learning tool which would force you to sharpen your perception of colours, not only how they interact with each other but also how to get passed optical illusions. I am not at the level of doing this sort of thing, I think it's way too advanced for me, but you could try a couple of paintings and see how it woks out. :)
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 2015
    And don't forget to include any voltage shifts in your locality.  They will change the values on the monitor.  Then there is the monitor itself which self-adjusts occasionally again changing the values.  Has anyone taken a photo of their great image on the monitor to preserve the colors and painted from them?  I realize that this would not be skipping the print process.  Still it might give you the colors that you are after.  
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