Defining your portraits so that the background can easily be selected and modified in Photoshop is a technique used by many photographers.

It applies equally well to painters.

Here are two variants of a Portrait with Monkey; watercolor on Arches paper, 10″ x 14″.

The first one is the original watercolor with no modifications except for the watermark.


In the second version, the background has been replaced by a colored gradient (Black to red) in Photoshop.Portrait with monkey 2

Three things are achieved:

  • The gradient helps emphasize the eyes.
  • The red and black contrast changes the mood of the portrait
  • The organic nature of the portrait is emphasized but also modified in our perception because of the background and gradient which is obviously not man made