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Video Training Review: A Celebration of Art – Weddings, Portraits, and Faces with Fay Sirkis from NAPP

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A Celebration of Art – Weddings, Portraits, and Faces with Fay Sirkis is the new video training DVD for those who want to take their digital paint to the next level. Building off the instructor's prior DVD, Paint Like A Master this video continues your education in the use of Painter X and Adobe Photoshop for creating digital artwork. It is hosted by Fay Sirkis, an internationally recognized portrait artist, photographer, and instructor. The video is published by National Association of Photoshop Professionals, or NAPP. If you are not familiar with NAPP, please read my review on Photoshop User magazine to gain more insight on what NAPP is all about and why you might want to join.

Weddings, Portraits, and Faces is contained on two DVDs that run 397 minutes (6.6 hours) and are for use on a computer. It is aimed at users who want to take their digital painting to the next level. The author goes over the material in 51 lessons divided into eight sections.

 Weddings, Portraits, And Faces Section 1 — "Retouching Eyes" (12 lessons) — begins, as in her previous DVD, by using Photoshop to prepare the image. There is a lot of information contained in these lessons with regard to retouching eyes. As they say, the eyes are the gateway to the soul, and so they are just as important to your portrait. In these lessons, your instructor goes over, in very fine detail, everything you will need to know about making the eyes the centerpiece of your work. The techniques covered here deal with all types of situations such as where the eyes are bland, how to fix small pupils, catch lights, and how to work with brown eyes.

It begins with a sketch of the parts of the eyes and how these relate to real eyes. Throughout these lessons you will learn how best to work with the pupils, moon, iris, and catch light. You begin with working the eyes of a groom. You move on to a little girl with where you work with her brown eyes. Then you see how to work with the whites and eyelashes. In each scenario, the instructor shows you how to take on new challenges with respect to the eye area. Keep in mind that this is not done from a photographer's perspective, rather from a painter's viewpoint and the techniques can be very different.

Section 2 — "Painting Faces" (7 lessons) — now focuses on the painting of the face. In this section you will learn how to work on a portrait of a little girl. Before she starts, the instructor gives a brief lesson in the history of art and of portrait styles and techniques.

In this section you are taken through an overview of some of the styles of Da Vinci, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet, Cassatt, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Sargent, Matisse, and Rockwell. Then she begins to show you how they relate to what you are going to learn.
Next you will see how to set up your images for the best size and DPI, as well as how your camera or scanner should be set up for capture. While it is expected that you have viewed the author's first DVD set, she does give a quick overview of the Painter X environment.

Section 3 — "Two Photos, One Image" (1 lesson) — looks at a Photoshop CS3 and you will learn a trick that you can use to take two photos to make one great image. This is all done with a minimum of work and with none of the techniques that many are hesitant to attempt because of difficulty.

Section 4 — "Painting Children" (10 lessons) — will show you how to paint a little boy using some of the brush techniques of the masters you saw in section two. Once again you are shown different techniques that will help you create this work of art. You will work with the face, then the hair, skin, clothing, and finishing on the painterly background.

 Weddings, Portraits, And Faces Section 5 — "Painting Brides" (10 lessons) — now takes on the painting of a bride into a portrait. You build on the previous lessons and examine how to take an ordinary photo and create another work of art. In this lesson, among other things, you will see how to transform a background completely to give it a painterly look. You will change pearls into a painted form, but with more depth and vibrancy than the photo gave. Then you will work with the gown to make it come to life and really pop out of the painting, as well as highlighting the veil.

Section 6 — "Painting Grooms" (7 lessons) — is different than the bride because of the darkness of the clothes give different challenges. You start by cleaning up freckles and other facial skin blemishes. Next you will learn how to bring out the creases and folds in dark clothing using different versions of the same photo. Then you will see how to work with the light-color shirt to finish it off.

Section 7 — "Painting Elderly Subjects" (3 lessons) — will show you how to transform a photograph of an elderly gentleman into a portrait. This section shows how to keep the age lines and wrinkles but gives them more of a painterly look and make everything more realistic.

Section 8 — "Painting Backgrounds" (1 lesson) — shows you how to take two previously oil style paintings and turn them in to watercolor style paintings just by some special techniques to convert them.

A Celebration of Art – Weddings, Portraits, and Faces is another wonderful DVD that works in a very systematic fashion and logical manner. It is filled with a lot of tips and techniques that will enhance your ability to use Painter. It is clear that the instructor, Fay Sirkis, is very knowledgeable about both painting and Painter X.

The retail price of A Celebration of Art – Weddings, Portraits, and Faces is $199.99. You can get it from KelbyTraining for $159.99, but for NAPP members it is only $143.99. You should also check out the online training available at KelbyTraining as well.

If you want to take your digital painting skills to the next level, then I highly recommend A Celebration of Art – Weddings, Portraits, and Faces.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
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