How to Make Stained Glass Art: A Reviewed Tutorial by Constanza Ehrenhaus.

7 07 2009
Holy Cow! (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Holy Cow! (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

1-To make stained glass-like art it is important to be acquainted with real stained glass. So the first thing you should do is go to collect references, look on the internet, visit churches and old mansions, bring your camera with you! I Googled a lot of images before starting my stained glass artwork.

Some stained glasses do not follow perspective rules, some do, some of them are very colorful, and some are monochromatic. Whatever style you decide to follow, make sure you keep it consistent!

HC tutorial 022- This is my original sketch, a really old one too, that I had lying around there. I decided to resurrect it and finish it in Stained Glass style. I always liked religious themes Stained Glass, so I thought that the Holy Cow would fit well for this technique and would follow up with an earlier work of mine “Sebastian d’Orange, Prophet of the Bubbles”.

HC tutorial 033- So now I imported the sketch into Photoshop and revamped it a bit. I consider the story of the image to be essential for its artistic development, so I decided that she was a virgin and martyr. Therefore I gave her a red cloak and a bunch of lilies. Since she would have died willingly she would be smiling beatifically and angels would be coming for her. But since she is a cow, what would fit better than the little birds that are always on cattle? So I replaced cherubs with Cattle Tyrants. Yeah, I know… but that is how my brain works anyways.

I wanted to give it a vertical composition to enhance the “ascension” idea. I also wanted to focus on her face; therefore I worked a triangle with the birds and her head.

HC tutorial 044- The next thing to do is to define the areas in which the glass will be “cut”. In this stage it is important to go to your references to see how these areas are treated. Stained glass will have different sized areas which will be painted inside in detail, so you don’t need to make an area for each different color. Also notice that for stained glass to be strong and long lasting, the pieces need to be connected to each other.

I have found that large windows have different weight lines, and I like that effect. I used heavy lines for the frame and the large panels that form the main rectangle of the image. For this I opened a different layer and used the tool pen with no simulated pressure.

HC tutorial 055- I now add the “lead” lighter lines around the figures. I make sure that I separate areas by main color but not being too detailed about it. For example, the lily bunch will be only one piece that will be later defined with brushstrokes of “paint”.

I will keep the halo separated in different areas, like wedges, to keep coherence with the “Prophet” piece. Also, notice that the radii of the circumference do not go to its geometric center but they go a little lower. In this way the image is not too rigid and the radii help me to focus attention on her face.

The sky and clouds are separated in smaller areas; this will help to bring her figure out, since Aurora (the cow) is the only element composed of big pieces of glass.

6- OK, so here I am showing you several steps at the same time. On one hand you can see HC tutorial 06ahow I defined details that were not defined by the “lead” lines, such as the lily flowers. With a thin round brush, and using the pen tool, I outlined the figures in a color that is darker than the color that I will use to paint those areas.

I also colored the sky, using a set of different hues of blue, spreading them around the stained glass. I gave a base of color to the clouds and started painting the cherub-birds.HC tutorial 06b

HC tutorial 077- I based the color scheme on a stained glass of St. Cecilia of Rome, virgin and martyr, to match a religious imagery. I proceeded to color the rest of the image, continuing to use color “painted” lines to define details in the glass areas. I also started shading the image. Stain glass usually does not follow a very realistic approach of light and shadows so I didn’t. I just used a darker red, darker blue, etc. to give a shading effect.

On of the most important things that I imitate from real stained glasses, and I think that makes them more believable, is the fact that the glass looks “burnt” next to the lead lines, and lighter toward the center of the panel of glass. I use the burn tool (Oh, the horror!!) to achieve this look, going around the margins of the glass piece. I also use the dodge tool to lighten up the center a bit.

8- To keep the composition uniform I used deeper tones of red and blue in the frame. They HC tutorial 08looked too saturated, so I lowered the saturation in a later step. I worked on the shading of Aurora, keeping the light from above to enhance a religious theme. These are the final stages in which I go and add details and work on what needs to be fixed. Here I worked on the face features, the shadows to add volume to her body, adjusted the colors of the lines of the robe (they were too bright before), worked on the prayer beads, etc.

HC tutorial 099- The last stages are to make the piece more real and less computer generated looking. I like to add different textures to different colors of glass. For this I choose a texture that I like, eliminate the color, and add it in a transparent layer on top of the color that I chose. Notice that this will tone down the colors a lot, which is not bad if they were saturated colors in the beginning. If desaturated colors were used this might be a good moment to adjust them.

I also like to add a black frame around the artwork to bring up the colors.

Don’t forget to add a nice story to it! That makes for half of the fun!


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