I Paint with a Laser

I was painting today, or rather removing the paint from a few days ago.  The process continues to evolve, and I did finally get a decent picture of my first painting. It is very high contrast, and I have to say I didn’t have much control.  This is a watercolor with a rather haphazard application of paint. It is tentatively titled “Making Marx on Canvas.”

marx and me

I have updated my process and am now using acrylics.  The reason for my switch has more to do with opportunity than anything else.  That is to say that the store I went to on Monday didn’t have a good supply of watercolors, but was overflowing with inexpensive acrylics.  At some point, if this becomes an ongoing thing I will take my materials more seriously, but at the moment cheap acrylics are serving me well.

I spent the first hour aclimating to the new materials and trying to figure out what colors I could get out of it, I realized that I was in an iterative proces (multiple runs with the laser) and started with gradients at 20%.  The material proved quite resiliant but after 4 passes I had taken off the black layer on top and revealed the blue underneath.  This was encouraging, but I also realized that I did not have time to do 4 passes to get a blue.  I may incorporate this in the future, but moved along to boxes all black 100%, 80%, 60% and 20% (oops). I upped the power to 40% and did up to 4 passes. This revealed almost all the way to the white canvas.  It occurs to me that I could do another pass and clean off most of the paint for a white, but I am also getting into “baking the canvas” territory which would yield a pleasing sepia or brown but not a white.

I then did a color separation on my image. (note too that in my files I had to invert the image because of the reductive process)

invert black

This is the black which shows a pretty good representation of the tonal range.  The reason behind doing a color separation is that I realized that when I am using the laser I am able to strip away about a layer of paint, and have the ability to do tuning.


after the first pass, I had the power pretty low (again about 40% and the results are consistent with my test patches.  I can now see the image and wanted to start cutting deeper looking for the white. I noticed that even a little laser destroys the luster of the black.  I need to watch this in the next painting.


I used the yellow channel next and started tuning the channel image.


The magenta channel was next, and cyan.


Thinking it was too dark I attempted to tune it with another pass with the adjusted black layer.


The result is quite pleasing, and looking back at the original SL image, I really like how the process favors the 3d of the avatar, the images in the back still look flat, but I have all of my colors revealed in the final painting.


I ran out of time on the laser, but got a result that is wonderful.  It is “Mona Lisa” dark and shows the original texture of the canvas.

The work is titled “Malcolm in the Middle” and that is Rabelais on the right.

I paint with lasers.


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