This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1923" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1923.
One of the most important things to consider in coloring a photograph with oil colors is to secure a paper with a surface that lends itself to the effect, and we know of no more suitable paper for this process than Vitava in the Old Master surface.
Now that there is a paper that so definitely hits the mark an explanation of the process of coloring with oils may be of interest to many who have never done such work.It should be understood first of all that special knowledge of painting is not required. The colors are applied in such a way that they are transparent, so the lines and tones of the print are not destroyed.
Good judgment in the selection and application of the colors should be used, however, as there must be a harmony of color if the finished work is to be pleasing. It is quite a safe rule to use subdued colors and not to over-color unless the subject specially calls for high coloring, in which case the general effect can usually be toned down by less brilliant coloring in backgrounds and accessories.
The Old Master surface of Vitava Athena has just the necessary roughness to give realism to the oil coloring - the finished result looks like a painting on canvas and if properly done should bring a very good price. Anyone who has an eye for pleasing color effects and who is willing to devote some time to practicing in the use of colors - their suitability to the subject, their proper blending and general effect, will soon become quite proficient in the work.
We would suggest that some one person on the studio force be placed on this work and allowed to practice until such time as a creditable set of pictures has been produced for use as samples. It is not advisable to show any prints that are not well colored, however, as the success of such work depends entirely upon its quality and it must be good to command a price that will warrant giving time to do the work properly.
The Old Master print that is to be colored should be a sepia, the Hypo Alum toning method being the best for this purpose. The sepia print lends itself to coloring much more readily than a black and white.
PORTRAIT FILM NEGATIVE, VITAVA PRINT
By A. Shepherdson Melrose, Mass.
Any good grade of artist's colors in tubes may be used and those most necessary are Black, White, Cinnabar Green, Prussian Blue, Vandyke Brown, Chrome Yellow. Carmine, Crimson Lake and Rose Madder. Other colors may also be used but these will answer for a beginning. Megilp, Roehrig's Medium or some other suitable sizing must be used or the colors will be absorbed by the print instead of remaining on the surface as is necessary for the best effect.
A few small camels hair brushes, absorbent cotton and a small amount of turpentine will complete the outfit necessary for a beginning.Size the print with the Megilp, using a tuft of cotton and rubbing off any excess of the liquid. The print is now ready for the color.
The colors are opaque but the idea is to apply them so thinly that they are transparent. Place a small daub of each of the colors to be used on a piece of glass, roll a tuft of cotton, touch it to the paint and rub it on a piece of white paper until it produces an even tint of the color. Apply to the print wherever the color is desired and go over with a fresh tuft of cotton to blend the color, rubbing most where the color should be lightest. For very small surfaces a brush is used instead of the cotton.
The best flesh tones are produced by an application of Rose Madder followed by yellow; for deep shadows, lips and nostrils. Carmine. The colors should be specially thin for hair, draperies and light parts of the background, as too much color adds brightness and detracts from the main point of interest which, in portraiture, is always the face.
When one becomes proficient the opaque colors may often be used to advantage but great care must be used as there is danger of destroying the effect of light and shade or of giving too much prominence to objects merely incidental to the picture by coloring them too highly.
Paintings do not have white margins but if there is any reason for coloring a print with margins the margins may be cleaned by rolling a tuft of cotton about a small stick such as a match or brush handle. The cotton should be dipped in turpentine, squeezed dry and wound with another covering of dry cotton. This will remove the color better than the wet cotton as the fumes of turpentine will dissolve the color and the dry cotton will absorb it without spreading.
If colors are applied thinly they will dry quickly but if any solid colors are used they should be given ample time to dry.A great many different shades of the colors recommended may be made by mixing, the tints secured depending on the proportions of the colors used; and this is readily learned by experience;
For brown, mix red and black.
For purple, mix white, blue and red.
For pink, mix white and carmine.
For dark green, mix light green and black.
For pea green, mix white and green.
EASTMAN FILM NEGATIVE, VITAVA PRINT
By R. W. Perkins Honolulu, Hawaii
For brilliant green, mix white and emerald green. For orange, mix red and yellow. For pearl grey, mix white, blue and black. For cream, mix white, yellow and red. For olive, mix red, blue and black. For buff, mix yellow and a little red. It is important that the colored print be given a proper setting. It should never be displayed without a frame and the frame should always harmonize with the tones of color in the print.
If such work is priced too low it becomes common and is not appreciated and if too high it will not sell. But there are plenty of people who will pay what such work is really worth, to have pictures that are a bit out of the ordinary. And at a fair price one can give the work enough time to insure its being done properly.