Yesterday I made a pixel portrait that combined black and white for the skin tones with full colour for the hair and lips. I like to do this with certain portraits as the results can be quite striking. Here is the original picture, side by side with the finished pixel piece:
I originally planned to do the portrait in full colour, but wasn't satisfied with the skin tones in my design. Black and white skin tones generally look pretty good when using Artkal and Hama's range of greys (I use six shades between black and white), so I decided to go that route. I didn't want to lose the striking colour of the hair and lips though, so I combined the two.
Without editing the photo, a combination design like this isn't easily done in the Perler program (my design software of choice). I could have used a photo editing app on my phone to make the pic black and white, while including colour where I wanted it, but this can be a timely, tricky process when trying to do it on a small phone screen. For this reason I used a technique I have used in the past - making a colour design as well as a black & white design, and use them both. Here's what I came up with:
As you can see on the left, just changing the colours to black and white with the reds and pinks included too doesn't give the finished result I was looking for. As the design is based on a colour photo, the software puts some colours where I don't want them, as they are closer to the actual colour than a shade of grey is, for example in darker areas.
So with this portrait I worked from both designs, and also continually referenced the original photo to check where the greyscale should end and the colour should start.
As with all my portrait designs generated by computer software, there is an element of cleaning up by eye to be done. This usually means tidying up the eyes and mouth, and this picture was no exception. While the lips only needed minimal improvements, the eye in the original designs was a bit lifeless compared to the real eye in the photo. For some reason the whites of the eye were interpreted as grey by the software, the pupil was indistinguishable, and the iris shaped all wrong. It took some trial and error to get the right shade of grey (using white proved to be too jarring in this picture) and the right shape, but I think the final eye is a big improvement. She now looks like she's looking at something specific, rather than just vacantly staring into space.
From starting the design process to laying the last bead took about 4 hours. And this is the smallest size I make portraits in - had I been working at 30x40cm or 40x50cm it probably would have taken at least twice as long.
And for those of you wondering, the model is Sway Fierce, and a fun fact about her is that she likes retro gaming! Check her out on Instagram (@swayfierce).
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.