My 3 Monsters: Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist

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Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist

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Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist at
 Hello, friends!  I am slowly, but surely, giving my living room a little facelift.  We've had our Funky Typography artwork hanging up in there for several years, which is awesome, but I was more than ready for something new to look at every day.  I've never been good about using family portraits in my decorating.  I'm not sure why . . . I just kind of figured if I wanted to see my kids, I could just . . . look at them.  Or something.  I never claimed to be mother of the year, folks.

Recently I decided that I wanted some cool, funky painted portraits of my children to hang on the main wall in the living room.  The only problem being that I am NOT a portrait painter.  Like, not even close.  My budget wouldn't cover hiring a professional to do the job, either.  Thankfully,  I pride myself on being a creative, problem-solving type of gal and I came up with a solution for even the least artistic among us.

Are you ready for a SUPER EASY way to make watercolor portraits?  Would you believe me if I told you that I made these on my iPhone?  

Yep, Waterlogue to the rescue again.  Just like I used it to make my Gilbert Temple watercolor printables, I was able to take photographs of my children and let the Waterlogue app work it's magic on them.  These are no fancy pictures either.  I took my kids out in the front yard with my trusty old Nikon CoolPix point-and-shoot camera and snapped some shots quickly.  {The dog would not cooperate that day . . . Cass is going to be on the blank canvas as soon as I get a good shot.}

Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist at
I took the photos, saved them to my phone and opened them up in the Waterlogue app.  Then I played around with them until I was happy with how they looked.  I ended up using the "bold" setting for all three of these because I liked the increased contrast.  Here's an example of the before photograph and the after watercolor:

Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist at
You can see, there's nothing particularly special about the photograph {except that smile -- I love that kid!}, but it looks really cool in its painted form.  I am in love with the way it captures the essence of each kid.  After I was done, I emailed the picture to myself from my phone {choose to send it Full Size if it gives you an option} so I could open it in Gimp {Photoshop or Picasa would also work} to clean it up a little and scale it for printing.

Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist at
There were some spots on each of the pictures where the watercolor "bleed" effect made the face look a little funky -- for instance in Dylan's above, the color from his bottom lip bled up onto his teeth and the blue from his shirt bled onto his face a little.  I just used the clone tool to clean those things up and airbrushed in a little blue sky to tie it into one of the accent colors in the room.  I also toned down the saturation a tad and turned some of that bright orange in the shadows of his face to a deeper tone.

Once I was happy with the way each picture looked I scaled it to be printed as a 16x20 poster print.  You will need to change the resolution from 72dpi to 150dpi and scale the image to 2400x3000 pixels.  Each program probably works a little but differently, but in Gimp you need to:
  1. Click on the Image tab on the top left of the screen, then select "Scale Image".
  2. A box will pop up .  Inside that box you can change the image size {make it 2400x3000} and the resolution {make it 150 pixels/inch}.  Click the "Scale Image" button.
  3. To save your image, click on the File tab, then select Export.  A box pops up that allows you to name the file and choose a location to save it.  
I had my posters printed at Costco for $6 each.  I find that Costco is the cheapest and fastest place to get poster prints in my area and their quality is fantastic.  I purchased 2 packs of stretched artist canvases at Walmart and mounted the Poster prints to them using Mod Podge.  

First paint an even layer of matte finish Mod Podge all over the canvas and situate the picture on top.  Flip the canvas over so the picture is face down on a clean solid surface, being careful not to move the picture out of place.  As long as the glue is wet, it has a tendency to slide around a bit.  Apply pressure from the back side to completely adhere the canvas to the poster and remove all air bubbles.  Check several times as you work to make sure the picture is still aligned.

Allow it to dry for about half an hour before painting a fairly thick coat of the matte finish Mod Podge on top of the photograph.  Make sure the whole picture is covered evenly, then take a paint brush and add some "brush strokes" to the picture, following the lines of the image.  This is not necessary, but will give the finished canvas a cool, painted texture effect when the light hits it.  Allow the glue to dry completely and then hang as desired.

Watercolor Portraits for the Non-Artist at
The total cost for 4 16x20 portraits was about $45 or a little more than $11 each, which seems like an unbelievable deal to me.  I am surprised at how much I love having pictures of my kids up on the wall.  I wish I had done this years ago.

Have a wonderful week!


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  1. What a great idea, the finished result is lovely. I often have those "doh, why didn't I do this years ago" moments!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad it's not just me. Thanks for stopping by!


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