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Anatomy of a gallery portrait

I had the pleasure to do a portrait session with the lovely Johanna several months ago when she wanted some images in her Pinocchio cosplay. While we did complete those images (that blog post to come later), I noticed while working with her that she really looked quite a bit like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. So I asked her if she was up for a little experiment to see if we could create her as Belle even though she wasn't wearing any gown or dress and that I would have to build the final image completely from scratch. But hey, she was a trooper and I was up for the challenge so we decided to give it a shot!

For some pre-work I looked online for some sample images of Belle that I could use for reference. There were of course many of Belle dancing with the beast, and many of her alone holding the rose which were all fine but rather un-original for my taste. I did however come across a painting where Belle was reclining on a couch with the beast behind her that struck me as very elegant so I decided to do something based on that idea.

Belle No.1, the final image with Johanna as Belle

So the first thing to do was to get some photos of Johanna in the pose that I was looking for. This takes a little imagination on her part as she has to pretend that she is lounging on a couch while in reality she is on a chair in my studio.

I shot several pictures in this pose so that I had enough to chose from when the time came, but in reality I ended up using the very first picture I shot for the final piece!

So now I have a great picture of Johanna but now I need to transform her into Belle lounging on some kind of sofa and wearing a yellow ball gown!

This is where I started piecing together what will be the final image in Photoshop by adding elements to the scene until it started to look like the final image. Then once I got the composition and elements in place I used Corel Painter 2018 to paint the final image.

Found a great chaise lounge, a wall and painting background from stock images

Found a stock gown image that i could use, just had to alter it to fit her pose and make it yellow

Did some more manipulating of the gown to make it fit correctly and added the final touch, the rose

The final image (titled Belle No. 1) was created by using the assembled image from Photoshop and digitally painting using Corel Painter to give a beautiful final image.

I was very happy with how this image came out. So much in fact that i submitted it for consideration for a showing of fine art portraits at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens Greece, where it was accepted to be part of their show and it will be on display at the Blank Wall Gallery February 2nd thru the 15th. So if any of you happen to be in Athens the first two weeks of February be sure to stop in and take a look at what is one of my all time favorite works.

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