Friday, December 4, 2009

Custom Work

I just proposed an interesting project to a client and wanted to share a little bit about it.

I was contacted last month by someone who had purchased some of my work many years ago. (Good reason to have all your contact information on every piece you sell.) She was interested in obtaining some new art for her living room and after looking at my website wondered what I could do with some of her travel photographs.

I am usually hesitant to work on a project like this but I realized that I could achieve a similar look and feel with her images by working on them in Photoshop. I was pretty sure the price I would quote for custom hand-colored photographs would be more than she was willing to spend, but if all she was really looking for was a style, why not give it a try?

I had her email me one of the images she was considering so I could work up a sample to show her. This is the original image:


After doing some work on it, this is what I came up as a rough proof – of course more work would need to be done for the final image, but I wanted to give her an idea of what I was envisioning.


While I have shunned digital hand-coloring for various reasons for my own work, it may be the best way to go for custom jobs. The main advantage to this is having the ability to email proofs as the image is worked on.

It’s very easy to second guess yourself when working on a piece for someone else. It was one of the reasons I stopped doing portrait work. I would spend hours hand-coloring, the whole time worrying that the customer would not like the way it turned out. Usually they loved the final product but in the few cases where they wanted changes, I pretty much had to start all over. I felt like I was barely making minimum wage on these jobs.

With the technology available, I can now get approval on an image before I have to print it. What is also exciting is this is not a project I could have done a year ago. I have learned so much about digital photography and Photoshop in the past year. There is still so much I want to learn but I really enjoy practicing what I already know, and with this practice I improve and learn more every day.


  1. What an interesting idea - this sounds like a wonderful use of digital hand coloring and your sample is looking great.

    Commissions can be difficult (many artists charge more for commissioned work) and I think portrait work is among the most difficult; partly due to people's sensitivities about how they look and partly because faces are so complex and nuanced.

  2. You are so multi-talented, Dianne! The PS coloring looks good in the small sample. And I just noticed something I'd apparently missed until this minute...The photo of you at your easel is partly hand colored! Nice touch! Don't know how I missed that!

  3. Thanks! My studio shot was "hand-colored" a few years ago. There was an art festival that I really wanted to get into and they required a studio shot as well as images and booth shots. I wanted my studio shot to stand out - so that's what I did. PS I was accepted to the show and did quite well!

  4. Wow Dianne, that's a gorgeous digital hand-coloring job. What a great effect...I bet the client will be thrilled.