Before & After Color Correcting Oil Painting for Magazine Spread

Task: Produce a Press-Ready Reproduction Matching Color to the Original Painting

It was at The New Yorker magazine where I perfected my skills in art reproduction and color correction. We worked to the highest of standards. No piece left the Imaging Center until it was an exact match to the original piece of art.

As the mark-up notes illustrate, time and attention was given to correct minute details. At this point in production, we had pleasing color. But for one small tonal correction to the main subject, the skin tones were accurate and true to the original. In other production environments it would have been a “sign-off” and on to the next pressing deadline. At The New Yorker the level of quality was that every part of the piece matched the original. No detail was to small to leave unattended thus time and attention was given to match the background elements as well. I suppose this could be considered “visual” facts checking.

Note: Photos shown here are scans of the proof and the magazine spread and not actual digital file that appeared in the magazine.

Client: The New Yorker magazine

Copyright Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Thomas Hart Benton Painting Color Correction Retouching Example

Task: Produce a Press-Ready Reproduction Matching Color to the Original Painting

It goes without saying–at a weekly publication deadlines are tight and schedules ambitious. It is to be expected that work will come in at the last minute. This painting came into The New Yorker Imaging Center, the night before deadline–not an unusual occurrence–but it had two additional directives.

First, the art collector–who had recently purchased this previously unknown Thomas Hart Benton at auction–did not want to let the painting out of his sight. He could wait while I photographed the piece but did not have the entire evening to sit and hold vigil while the image was being processed. Second, it was going to be used as a double-page spread in the issue that was going to press in the morning. So it had to look really good!

Once it was photographed, the owner took the painting home; he would return in the morning with painting in-hand so it could be compared to the pre-press proof. The next day there would be only enough time for the art director to review the color, and if needed, make one round of color corrections. It was imperative that I got the color as close as possible for the first review.

Regrettably, I do not have a “Before” showing the color of the first proof–but I will share this. It was the first time an art director hugged me with such exuberance.

We made the deadline and the world had the opportunity to see this never exhibited nor previously published Thomas Hart Benton original before it disappeared again into a private collection.

Client: The New Yorker magazine

Copyright Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Color Correcting Artwork for Reproduction Before and After

Task: Produce a Press-Ready Reproduction Matching Color to the Original Painting

Another piece illustrating the type of work done while on staff at The New Yorker magazine. I photographed the painting digitally then performed the corrections as noted on the “Before” proof–reduced black overall, brightened the red background, made the hair more blond than brunette.

Note: Photos shown here are scans of the proofs. They do not represent the actual digital file used to evaluate the color or the file that went to press.

Client: The New Yorker magazine

Copyright Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Before and After Color Correction of Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

Oil Painting Reproduced for Art Prints and Notecards

The first print, made from a film scan was a respectable reproduction of the painting. The color was pleasing but did not match the painting exactly. Selective areas required color manipulation. The orange vase and green glass needed more yellow; the background needed both yellow and magenta.

The most problematic area was the peacock feathers. They were dark and heavy with little separation between the blues and greens. The iridescent colors of the peacock eyes were restored and black plumes were made brown.

Client: Melody The Artist Home
Rhythms & Radiance, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA.
(The original painting is available for purchase. Contact Melody at the above link.)

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before & After Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

Color Correction for Art Prints and Reproductions

The vivid color in the painting was outside of the color range of Ektachrome film used to capture the image. Photoshop to the rescue. First, a global color correction was done to improve tone, color, & contrast. Next, specific areas were selected to make local adjustments. The flattened form and lack of separation of the soup tureen was enhanced by adding green. The color cast in the white jar was removed and additional contrast was added to the ladle to create more shape and depth.

The open edition art prints and note cards made from this color-corrected file now precisely matched the original oil painting. The artist was quite pleased and customers purchasing the art reproductions had an exact representation of the artist’s intend.

Client: Melody The Artist Home
J'ai la Peche, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA
The original painting is available for purchase. Contact Melody Phaneuf at the above link.

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Tondo, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

Before and After Oil Painting Reproduced for Art Prints and Notecards

Another painting from Melody The Artist Home. This painting required just one correction to match the color to the original painting. A curves adjustment in Photoshop was used to remove the magenta cast. Subtle on screen–and possibly indiscernible if viewing this on an uncalibrated monitor–the correction was vital in matching the art print to the original painting.

Client: Melody The Artist Home
Tondo, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before & After Sunflower Flower Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

Oil Painting Reproduced for Art Prints and Notecards

This landscape painting, with sunflowers turned to face the setting sun, is one of the most popular art prints from Melody The Artist Home line of art prints and reproductions. This scan had the opposite problem of the still life Tondo. Instead of it being to magenta it was much to cool–or in prepress vernacular–much to cyan. However, unlike Tondo, the color moves are quite apparent even when viewed on screen. The sunflowers are now warm and inviting and the variation in all of the greens delicately enhanced.

Client: Melody The Artist Home
Sunflowers of the Dordorgne I, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before and After OIl Painting, Winter's Passage 1

Oil Painting Reproduced for Canvas Giclée

Without the pleasure of viewing the original painting, the “Before” image looks perfectly acceptable. Pleasing color, certainly. Nevertheless, the original painting was much cooler as illustrated in the “After” version. When both reproductions–the canvas Giclee and the art print on paper–are viewed next to the original oil painting, the color is a perfect match.

Client: Melody The Artist Home
Winter’s Passage I, Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before & After Oil Painting, Twilight

Task: Capture the Delicate Transition of Color; Digital Files and Prints for Curatorial Review

This past Spring I had the pleasure of photographing and printing the complete catalog of the Night Fall series, a collection of paintings by Boston Artist Deborah Kravitz. Thirty-six paintings in total, the series had its particular challenges.

The beauty in these works is the layering of paint and the subtle transition in color. Observable to the eye but not captured by the camera’s sensor, many pieces required meticulous color correction work to emulate the color and tonality of the original painting.

Client: Deborah Kravitz, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA
Painting: Twilight II

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before and After Oil Painting, Twilight 2

Task: Produce Digital Files and Prints for Curatorial Review

The essential characteristic of Evening Darkness & Illuminated Sky, as the title suggests, is the glow emerging from darkness. The camera sensor, having the same limitation as Twilight II, did not capture the glowing hue of the yellow, the gorgeous variation in the sky or the depth of texture in the layered paint. With careful consideration, delicate moves were made using Photoshop curves and sharpening adjustment to re-create the illuminated effect.

Client: Deborah Kravitz, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA
Painting: Evening Darkness & Illuminated Sky

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before & After Oil Painting, The Hill

Task: Produce Digital Files and Prints for Curatorial Review

The artist created this abstract landscape with a palette of yellows, browns, and greens. Much of the feeling and experience of the painting did not translate to the un-retouched file. Adjusting the overall contrast, bringing back the variations of yellow, the dance of colors in the sky, and the tactile feeling of the paint, the reproduction is now true to the original oil painting.

Client: Deborah Kravitz, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA
Painting: The Hill

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Before and After if Under-Exposed Bargue Drawing of Arm

Task: Improve Under-Exposed Photo for Portfolio Presentation

The digital file of this pencil drawing was sent to Chroma Queen by the artist. The piece was being submitted as part of a grant application thus money was literally riding on the reproduction looking as good as possible.

I provided the artist with two solutions. The first maintained the cream color of the paper. The 2nd, the paper was neutralized to create a four-color Black & White.

Client: Christina DiMeo
Work on Paper, Pencil Drawing

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Under-Exposed Bargue Drawing of Torso Before and After

Task: Improve Under-Exposed Photo for Portfolio Presentation

This Bargue drawing was to accompany the previous image in the artist’s grant application. Having done the original drawing on cream colored paper, the artist decided that was the version most appropriate to include in her portfolio.

Client: Christina DiMeo
Work on Paper, Pencil Drawing

Copyright Belongs to Respective Image Owner

Color Will Vary Depending on Your Monitor Type, Calibration and Profile

Accurate Color

What does the above statement mean? All devices are not created equal. Every device, be it a computer monitor, a smartphone, or a tablet has a range of colors it can produce. This range is called its color gamut. Think of gamut as the number of colors in a box of crayons. Low-end monitors have fewer colors at their disposal to display the colors in a given photo than high-end monitors manufactured specifically for design and photo professionals.

Monitors must also be calibrated and profiled to display colors accurately. Even the most expensive monitors will not display colors accurately if they have not been calibrated and profiled. Age is important too. A monitor’s capabilities deteriorate with use and age.

To learn more about color, color perception, color settings within applications, and color management visit the Resources + More page.

For a visual demonstration on how our working environment affects color perception see the blog post Perception & Our Environment.