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Al Agnew

The Pool

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Al,great story and painting. At first I thought it was a photo. My dad painted some copies of Charles Russell, "in without knocking" and" Doughtful handshake" for me and I really can't see a difference. I on the other hand could not do yours or his if they were paint by numbers. I do see that you post on the Fly Fishing forum, but your stories seem to be more in depth here, thanks for your wealth of knowledge.

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Al -- a while back you told us you used Photoshop to do some of your paintings. I find that really interesting because I always thought of it as a photo editing software only. Plus, it seems like a largely different skill set. When you do pictures like the one above, or catalog covers how are you doing those? What determines which way you go?

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AL you express yourself in writing as well as in your painting. Ever thought of combining the two into some outdoor magazine. In spite of the way I communicate today there was a tie when I wrote a lot of government gobbly goot . Thats why it is do hard to understand what the hell they are talking about in those letters etc.

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Al -- a while back you told us you used Photoshop to do some of your paintings. I find that really interesting because I always thought of it as a photo editing software only. Plus, it seems like a largely different skill set. When you do pictures like the one above, or catalog covers how are you doing those? What determines which way you go?

Ness, any painting I do as an original to sell in galleries or over the internet is a traditional painting...for the last few years it's been almost exclusively alkyds (which are oil paints but which dry somewhat faster than traditional oils) on canvas or linen. In the past I've done acrylics and watercolors, but not any more. On those paintings, I often use Photoshop as a planning and compositional tool. For instance, in this painting, I had photos (actually my wife had taken them with her cell phone) of me in that spot, but none that showed me in that position, fitted into the background the way I wanted. So I took one of the photos of me, extracted it from the background, and put it into the background of another photo. Then I played around with the color balance in order to get the mood I wanted. In the end, I had an image in Photoshop that was like a photograph of how I envisioned the painting. I used this Photoshop image as my main reference as I did the actual painting.

On most of my BPS covers, and on some other licensing images, I do actually "paint" the image in Photoshop. As you know if you've worked with Photoshop, it has various "brush" tools, and ways of selecting colors to use to "draw" or "paint" things onto the image you're working with. I have a Wacom Cintiq tablet, which is my actual computer monitor. Using a stylus, you can draw or paint directly on one of these tablets. So I start out with a blank image file, just a white background. I select a brush (actually I use the airbrush tool most of the time, and get detail and fine lines and edges just by selecting a very small airbrush, anywhere from 4 to 8 pixels, while when I want to lay in color over a larger area I use a bigger airbrush tool), select a color, and start "painting" on the screen (the tablet). You can also make any color opaque or various degrees of transparent, so you can do things much like adding washes or glazes of paint over an already painted area to change the color without losing what's underneath. In fact, it is very much like actual painting, except that you're doing it on a computer screen instead of on canvas.

Occasionally I'll actually incorporate a photo into the image on these designs. But if I use the photo as is, it will have a different level of detail compared to the parts of the design that I've "painted" from scratch, so I have to manipulate the photo to lose some of the detail and make it look more "painterly", or perhaps add colors and details to the photo. I don't always incorporate photos into these designs, and in fact the biggest reason I sometimes do so is if I'm working under a tight deadline and don't have time to create a whole background completely freehand.

This is a bass painting done with real paints on canvas (or maybe it was masonite panel, don't remember for sure):post-218-0-58145000-1381347753.jpg

This is a "painting" done entirely in Photoshop, using no photos:post-218-0-52248000-1381347796.jpg

This one is a cover design where the fish was done without the use of photos, but the background is partly a worked-over photo:post-218-0-83419000-1381347880.jpg

In that last one, the trees in the background were one photo, the water in the foreground with the ringlets where drops of splash are hitting was another photo, worked over extensively to smooth out and lose some details. The rocks were from a different photo, also changed quite a bit. The splash and water droplets themselves were done freehand--it's impossible to get that kind of detail in water droplets by photographing it, even though I've done a lot of photographing of splashes for reference for various paintings. The fish is done completely freehand, no photos used.

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Thanks, Al. That's really interesting stuff. I wasn't aware of Photoshop being used in those ways. Interesting how you're combining elements from different media too. Never heard of that.

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Do not have a bucket list but if I was to start one the Pool would have to be at the top. Thanks to your description and art work I may be forced to start that list! Congrats on a great day of fishing. Look forward to crossing paths at MSV this winter.

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