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Painting a Black and White Photograph

Updated on November 29, 2018
snakeslane profile image

Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.

Getting Started

Starting with an old black and white photograph of my Mother, my idea was to do an Andy Warhol style print, but I didn't know how.

So, I scanned the photo and saved it in my pictures file, and it stayed there a long time while I did some research.

I worked on the photo to start using Microsoft Office Picture Manager to do basics, crop, resize, that kind of thing, and then opened in Paint to color. These photo editing tools are so easy to use.

Unfortunately, now, in 2018 they are no longer included in Windows 10. Picture Manager is already gone, and the classic Paint is soon to go, but both can still be downloaded for free.


The Process

Every step was experimental, trial and error. I had no idea where I was going. I spent hours just playing, creating colors, and eventually started painting.

Probably the most important thing I learned was to always save a copy of the original (so I could go back and start over if things didn't work out), and to save a copy each step of the way.

Original Photo

From the style of the dress and the hair I'm thinking the photo was taken in the early 1950's maybe earlier.

It looks like she may be at a Tupperware party or a dance. She is wearing a very large corsage, and if you look closely she's also wearing a ribbon of some kind, maybe she won a prize (possibly for best corsage?).

The cropping is pretty sloppy, (could have done that better).

I did a repair to the photograph using Paint; a small spot near her right shoulder where the photo had been damaged. The repair is rough, more like a patch, but works for this exercise.

Source

Painting a Photo is Fun!

I started painting the photograph in Paint, switched to another photo editing program (GIMP) to layer on a background color, and then back to Paint for the detailed color work.

Basically I spent hours painting directly on the image, pixel by pixel.

Tip: When painting directly on the image, it's best to to zoom in to the area you want to color, to get the fine detail.

What is GIMP?

GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program is a sophisticated photo editing program with tools similar to Photo Shop, and it's a free download.

*see the tutorials listed below for more information.

The Finished Painting

Source

Special Effects

After painting the image I tried GIMP's special effects filters just for fun. These effects were easily done with just a click.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Photo Copy filter is an interesting effect that brings out the great lines of the eyebrows and the hairline around the face.The Oil Painting filter makes the image appear to be painted on canvas.The 'Van Gogh' filter gives a soft painterly effect.The Cartoon filter gives a Romance comic book look to the image. The Picasso filter creates a 'Cubism' effect which is really fun. It completely distorts the image, but you can still see a face and mouth. The bright colors of the jacket and the corsage really pop cubed!
The Photo Copy filter is an interesting effect that brings out the great lines of the eyebrows and the hairline around the face.
The Photo Copy filter is an interesting effect that brings out the great lines of the eyebrows and the hairline around the face. | Source
The Oil Painting filter makes the image appear to be painted on canvas.
The Oil Painting filter makes the image appear to be painted on canvas. | Source
The 'Van Gogh' filter gives a soft painterly effect.
The 'Van Gogh' filter gives a soft painterly effect. | Source
The Cartoon filter gives a Romance comic book look to the image.
The Cartoon filter gives a Romance comic book look to the image. | Source
The Picasso filter creates a 'Cubism' effect which is really fun. It completely distorts the image, but you can still see a face and mouth. The bright colors of the jacket and the corsage really pop cubed!
The Picasso filter creates a 'Cubism' effect which is really fun. It completely distorts the image, but you can still see a face and mouth. The bright colors of the jacket and the corsage really pop cubed! | Source

Vintage Filter

The Vintage filter gives an 'old time' feel to the photo. We've come full circle!
The Vintage filter gives an 'old time' feel to the photo. We've come full circle! | Source

Timeless Tutorials from the Experts

Many thanks to two Hub Pages authors for their helpful articles on working with black and white photographs: Christin S for her Hub, "How to Digitally Restore an old Photo in Photo Shop".

And leahlefler for her Hub, "How to Colorize an Old Black and White Photo with GIMP: A GIMP Tutorial".

After studying these I was able to proceed with confidence. And even though my finished pieces were completely different from what I had first visualized, I learned some valuable photo painting techniques, and quite enjoyed the process.

For the Record

Now, seven years later I am still playing with Paint.

© 2011 Verlie Burroughs

Comments

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    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thank you IntegrityYes!

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 

      7 years ago

      I definitely voted up.

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 

      7 years ago

      Way to go,Snakes Lane! You write so great.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Wow Derdriu! I am so glad I ran into you. I am having a Derdriu day, what a gift!

    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      8 years ago

      Snakeslane, What a fascinating, imaginative, practical accounting of what can be done with old photographs! You do a really great job of explaining what you do and then providing the photographic example. My favorite is the original. But I love what you do for the cartoon, cubist, vintage and xerox versions.

      It's a sad day indeed when a parent dies. But parenting is such an intense commitment that I think in a way they never leave their children. We just can't see them even though from time to time we feel their abiding presence.

      Thank you for sharing, etc.,

      Derdriu

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi snakeslane, I have just been to leahlefler's hub - it's brilliant, thank you!

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you Movie Master, you will do well with that I'm sure. The GIMP tutorial by leahlefler is very helpful too, did you see the link in my story?

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a fabulous photo of your Mum.

      I especially like the oil painting and vintage look to the photos, they are great effects.

      Well done on the corsage, I can see there is a lot of intricate work in that!

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful hub, I'm going to get gimp and have a go myself now.

      All the votes up, best wishes MM

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Hello stayingalivemoma, thank you very much. The photo painting is really fun. You are so welcome, glad you enjoyed.

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 

      8 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      Your mother was stunning and I love the way you did the photos. I have been taking more photos with my iphone, but thought about maybe investing in a camera. I'd like to be able to edit photos as well. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you 2uesday. So nice of you to comment and share, I appreciate it.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 

      8 years ago

      I think you did a good job on this, as it is not easy to do. The end result is nice and colorful. Re/ your mum a year is not long, still takes time to get use to. I lost my mum, suddenly, last winter and still think about it.

      I had a photo edit programe on the old laptop but I cannot get it to load on this one, it was called photoscape and it was easy to use.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you anglnwu. I'm so happy you enjoyed the photo painting of my Mom, I agree she looks fabulous and I appreciate the stars you've given me. I haven't had a star for awhile. I remember in school a gold star was the best, a blue was second and then a red was next. I think there was a silver in there too. I will have to come up with another colour for the fifth star, how about violet? I think that's getting to be my favorite colour.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 

      8 years ago

      I know nothing of painting and restoring pictures using GIMP but kudos to you--you have done a beautiful job. Your mother looks fabulous and I give you 5 stars for your excellent effort.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for the visit and so happy you find this amazing brother. Love you. V.

    • profile image

      J.D. 

      8 years ago

      Stunned and amazed S. Great work. You have made Mom immortal.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks again Professor M, I am glad you enjoyed. Thank you for your kind words.

    • profile image

      Aka Professor M 

      8 years ago

      @snakeslane: The hub and your mother both have a certain timelessness about them, my friend. The sharing of your artwork with your beautiful mother as the subject is very appreciated.

      My condolences on your lost, snakeslane, but the beauty of your renderings here, show all who read and see this hub, that she was a very wonderful person, who is loved and missed by the author, of this piece.

      Voted Up and Push all the buttons that applied here.

      Regards Mike (Aka Professor M!) ;D

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Good eye mckbirdbks! That was my original name for this article before it morphed into what it is now. When I edited new name in that stayed, noticed that happens a lot. Guess it's best to pick a Title and stick with it. Other than that I have no idea what drives traffic. nada.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Thankyou-Andy-Warhol - Does this help drive traffic???

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      You are so welcome jhamann...will have to find more "involving" things to write about just for you.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      8 years ago from Reno NV

      I like how you involved me in your creative process, I want to be involved again. Thank you.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Good plan, there must be one out there already written I should look it up. I get lazy and just ask whoever is on the page at the time, like you, or anyone else at Emerald Wells cafe, you need to start a small library room in the back for struggeling hubbers.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I think you have found another hub to write, 'How to embed a link into your hub"

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      ok, done for now, there is a link embedded to the two pages. thanks mckbirdbks!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      The absolute worst thing would be they asked you to undo it. And that is so unlikely.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for getting back to me on that. What you say makes sense, maybe I will just go for it. The whole e-mail thing is so convoluted.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I don't see how anyone could complain. They published their hub to be seen. You would just be helping those that visit you to visit them. It's free advertising. If you are reluctant then a email via the contact spot on their profile page will work.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you mckbirdbks, yes, the beautiful photograph really inspired me to try this bit of painting. I am not sure what the process is to get permission to provide a link to other Hubbers page. How would I do that? Would it be ok to send an e-mail? Thanks again.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello snakeslane. Your Mother is beautiful. You learned all these techniques so quickly. What a great job you've done showing us the various methods to handle a photograph.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you so much Frieda Babbley, I'm so glad you enjoyed the painted photos. There was so much going on in women's fashion at that time yes, they really worked at achieving that look. pin curlers, hair rollers, lots of lipstick and the whole eye make-up thing with the long eyelashes and sculpted eyebrows.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      8 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Just adore that photo of your mom. I'm in love with that era btw. I can see why you chose that black and white photograph to play around with. I think the results were grand. Very enjoyable and very cool. Thumbs up.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Never say never! And thanks for that, you too Lady.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      8 years ago

      I hope so...haha...it is not looking good so far..I will keep trying though..Best of luck to you too...

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Sunnie Day you are so funny. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff I started with. I should publish those as a "How Not" Hub. It's really different "painting" with a mouse, but once you learn the tricks it gets easier.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      8 years ago

      Hi Snake,,It was very masterful..I was playing with that program that Hyph used and I tried to make eyes a different color and it looked like aliens..and then the lips looked liked the Joker on Batman..I gave up..hahah so yes you did a masterful job...:)

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Aww, thank you Vinaya Ghimire. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I approve! Can't wait to see what you do with it. It's really fun.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      8 years ago from Nepal

      You are a true artist, you have shown your different dimensions. When you retouch a photograph it becomes your work. These days I'm also trying to restore old photographs, don't be surprised if I imitated your concept.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Oh thank you Sunnie Day, I'm really happy you like it. Masterful, hmm, my hat size just grew an inch or two!

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Wow WD Curry, that is one big compliment you just gave me! Thank you so much for the techie tips. I am absolutely thrilled that you like this first project in painting a photograph. I was afraid to publish in case it looked too amateurish, I'm so happy now that I went with it. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      8 years ago

      Hi Snake you did such a great job with your mothers picture..so fancinating..I think it was a masterful job.

      Sunnie

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      8 years ago from Space Coast

      I have been a professional artist for 40 years (tomorrow at four o'clock). I went to the best art school in the country and my classmates couldn't wait to see what I came up with next. I feel very strongly like God led me here to read this and see what you are doing. I feel impressed to say.

      DANG! THIS ROCKS!!!!

      You mentioned products so I will too. PS Elements (free with some printers), Corel Creative Suite (several disks - cheap - does almost everything in PS, Illustrator, trace, animation program + a couple other things). You can't get as high of a resolution, but you don't need it unless you are doing billboards or something.

      Picaso image IS over the top! and back down again.

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you makusr! Yes, isn't she beautiful.

    • makusr profile image

      Manoj Kumar Srivastava 

      8 years ago from India

      snakeslane, Dear you are sure an artistic person. You writing is good and your photos are nice too. BTW your mom looks like a Classic film star.

      With warm wishes,

      MAKUSR

    • snakeslane profile imageAUTHOR

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Hi Hyphenbird! Thank you so much...I was not sure if the Picaso image was too over the top? Yes this is fun, I love it.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Snakelane, look what you can do! And here you have been complimenting me. Your mother is gorgeous, like an classic movie star. I like GIMP and have used it some. I wish I was more familiar with it but need more hours in the day. I thank you for the tips very much. Isn't this fun?

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