How do you make your quilt images so realistic?

*bites back a grin* I can’t take all the credit for that. A lot of the end result has to do with the images that I’m working with and how well the original artist/photographer worked their composition.

Let me back up a little and try to explain it a bit more.

When I’m first looking at a picture/image, to see if it’s something that will ‘work’ with being translated into fabric, I’m looking for a few things. Things like image definition, clarity, color gradations, highlights, low lights, shadows, and overall impact. There might be a few more, but these are the main things. I’m very aware of what I consider a good image to work with may not be the same thing you’d consider. That’s ok.

The next thing that I consider is whether or not I can get my hands on a high resolution digital image. This will usually include written permission from the original artist/photographer  or model. (There are more details involved with the agreements to use the image, but that’ll be for a later time.) The higher the resolution, the better. To be blunt, this is where a lot of my ideas get get stopped.

Once the hi-res image arrives, that’s when I sit down with my photo editing software and begin the “real” work. When I’m processing the image to prepare it for fabric, I’m looking to see how many details I keep, how the colors play out, how many levels of color there are, and – eventually – what to make as the finished size. If the processed image makes it beyond this point, I’ve got a good start to my base pattern.

Oh, the base pattern. That all important thing. Without it, I’ve got nothing. It, also, causes the most debate – what size should the final piece be. I’ve been known to stew about this step for some time. When in doubt, I’ll give myself a couple of different size options, print out the base pattern in those sizes, and start looking at what the overall project will entail.

Somewhere around this part, I’ve started assembling the fabrics I’m going to use. With the Zombie Sam quilts, I wanted to stay with the color schemes Mr. Tackett had set up. He picked those colors for his own reasons; my job was to see if I could replicate the end results. The Willowy Being quilts were centered around the movie the character was from; I chose fabrics that would reflect the movie. I needed to use specific fabrics for the Bite Me quilt, as it was an entry for a local quilt shop fabric challenge.

They say “the devil’s in the details”. *shakes head* That’s no platitude. If I’ve done all of my prep work right – base pattern preparation and fabric selections – the details will begin to show as the piece is constructed. Each detail, no matter how small, is contingent on the bits and pieces around it. The more detail I can add, the more realistic the piece becomes. The best example I have to show you is from the Willowy Being and the Willowy Being: A Reedus Salute quilts.

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 Same original art, different level of details added. There’s about 3-4 years of difference in skill and experience level. I don’t kid around when I say Mr. Tackett’s artwork has taught me a lot of things. The second piece reflects the changes those lessons have taught.

With all of that being said, I’ve been working to see if I can get an impressionistic art piece to have the same kind of detail work. It’s more difficult to work with. I’ve, also, been challenged to see if I can make splatter art (artwork made from paint splatters) into the type of quilting I do. In particular, can I keep the same 3-dimensional effects the original artist has created? We’ll find out.