Modern methods for realistic painting – what do you think about it?

academy realistische kunst 01 - Modern methods for realistic painting - what do you think about it?

Drawing with the help of projectors, printers etc.

Many people are totally astonished and impressed when they see a photo-realistic painting, that is, a picture that looks like a photograph but is actually painted. To make a picture look so realistic, there are many different approaches.

Several methods and “tricks” come into play, and they raise discussions and generate controversy among painters, either amateurs or professionals. The most common questions are for example: “Is copying permitted and is it okay to use a projector to trace an image reflected on the wall?” The question that you should ask yourself is: What is the goal of my work? Because maybe one person wants to make the most perfect painting, another one just wants to train his/her techniques. Of course, one thing does not exclude the other.

This is how the old masters painted

Even the old masters developed sophisticated methods to make their paintings look realistic. Great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer did not simply paint large paintings without prior planning, but first made study drawings of the objects or portraits, on which they later painted. The focus of these sketches was on the study of proportions and anatomy in order to be able to represent bodies and objects even more realistically. The principle was always to first have a model on which they could paint.

However, some painters also developed ingenious “tricks of the trade”, such as painting with the help of the screen printing. This method is based on the stenciling technique and was already used by Michelangelo. Even modern artists like Andy Warhol worked with this technique. Albrecht Dürer used different methods for his works, for example, he painted with the help of a sheet of glass. The method consisted in producing a scale image by marking the outlines of the object on the glass, to later trace this sketch again on paper. Another method was the grid method. In a nutshell, the grid method involves drawing a grid over your reference photo and then drawing a grid of equal ratio on your work surface. Then you draw the image on your canvas, focusing on one square at a time until the entire image has been transferred.

academy realistisch portrait malen 01 - Modern methods for realistic painting - what do you think about it?
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Painting methods today

Of course, the techniques have continued to improve over time and have become even better. Many contemporary artists use ingenious methods to make their paintings look more realistic or even photorealistic. All kinds of means are used, such as projectors, in which a picture is projected on the wall and can be painted on the painting surface. The painters Gottfried Helnwein or Franz Gertsch use this technique to make their oversized hyperrealistic paintings. Others print a sort of model from which they can copy.

What do you think of these techniques? Which tools do you use? We are looking forward to receiving your comments and feedback.

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