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I have been driving myself crazy trying to match a color in a photograph...

It should be possible in theory to mix virtually any color, with the exception of the super colors, with a limited palette. However, I have almost gone crazy trying to mix the highlights in Lucia's hair. Sometimes they look orange, sometimes they look purple, sometimes they look red --- but I can never get it quite right, nor can I get the intensity quite right.  Is there something about photographic prints that cannot be easily replicated with a limited palette of oil paints?  Also, I begrudge giving up any intensity at all because at heart I want to EXAGGERATE and I want more DRAMA and I know that in the early stages of following the DMP method I am not allowed to do that. So I think if I could just exactly replicate what's in the photo I would be happy. I would be interested in hearing from those people who are more experienced in this area.  Thank you.


  • Hi, @Dianna just ask yourself the questions about your mix, is my paint too red? Too green etc .. forget you are mixing a colour for hair, you’re just mixing and comparing colour.. happy painting :)
  • Can you show us the photo and the colour you are trying to mix?
  • @marieb    Thanks and yes, I do the FLOW thing constantly. It is the most wonderful method for drilling down on the right color -- but in this case it never seems to work.  There might be some technical reason why printed material has some strange color casts in it that are not quite attainable with ordinary oils. If this is the case then I'll just stop worrying about it, and move on.  This is my first painting using the DMP method and sometimes I can't quite work out what's important and what isn't.  @Richard_P I loaded the photo on the next posting but it's quite hard to see what I'm talking about. Thanks for your time and caring     Dianna
  • @Dianna., get the value right and the colour won't matter much. Your paintimg looks great.  :)
  • @tassieguy   I'm sorry I've forgotten your name     You are right!  I had forgotten that.  Of course Mark always emphasises that VALUE is king and and that if you get the value right, the color is less important. I do think about value constantly as I paint, but in this instance I couldn't see the wood for the trees! I can also remember him saying that if you go through the flow and still can't find the solution, then you are near enough.  Thanks. (I still wouldn't mind knowing, mind you, if there are colors that can be created through the printing process that are not able to be replicated just for future reference) Kind regards  Dianna
  • The closer a colour is to grey the harder it is for us to see the hue. What can sometimes help is boosting the chroma of the colour in the photo so you can see what hue goes where. For example the hair is orange, not purple or yellow:

  • @Richard_P, that's a great idea.  Boost the chroma to observe.  Not to paint from, just to get the chroma right.  I like it.
  • The color you are trying for may not look right when putting a dash on a photograph for color checking but get it as close as you can in the right value and paint it where it belongs on your work. It will probably look right there but if it still doesn't you may have to blend it a little with the adjoining colors.
  • Hi @BOB73 Thank you ----   I have experienced quite a few problems with colors whilst painting my first DMP painting, "Lucia".  But never mind, I will just persist and I suppose eventually I'll get it. I rather suspect I have some kind of built-in bias because my colors are always consistently off in the same direction, if you get my drift. I haven't painted for the past month but hope to get back to it again shortly. 
  • I'm having pretty much the same problem. I laminated a photo and I don't know if it is the glare or what is making it so hard to match

  • I’ve had some similar problems choosing colors doing still life’s like that.  I noticed a couple things.
    For example, I noticed that when I look at the color checker with my left eye the value is lighter than when I look with my right eye.  I wonder if it has to do with the amount of light coming from that side of the room some reflected light).
    when trying to match the color I just try to get it close enough.  I do ask myself the questions is it too blue, red, etc.  Reflections can have a lot of different colors in them so it can make selection a bit more difficult.

  • Apparently it's not uncommon for either eye to see color or value differently. It can be the eye itself or how the mind processes what it thinks it sees.
  • @GTO Glare caused me a lot of problems initially, but once I built my Black Studio, I found it much easier to color-match.
  • Yeah, I’m dealing with a lot of glare.  Did you paint the walls and ceiling black?
  • I've built a black tent in my living room

    @GTO  No, I created a kind of tent based on Mark's principles.  The thread is under "I've built a black tent in my living room".  It was quite cheap because I created a simple frame using wooden dowling, and then hung black poplin fabric which was only $2 a metre over the frame. I love it and it's made a major difference to my painting. I couldn't do without it. There are only two small screws in the walls - so when I've finished with it, I just have to dismantle it and there is virtually no damage left behind.

  • That’s a clever solution. 

  • isolate the color you are trying to match. Maybe its the other colors around it that mess with your mind. take a piece of white paper, cute a small hole into it and place the paper ver that erea. 
  • Great idea; I'm going to try that today. I keep seeing a ton of different colors
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