Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fly Amanita Toadstool Painting

This is a painting I recently completed of Amanita muscaria mushrooms. These mushrooms are the classic toadstools you imagine outlining a fairy ring or acting as a perch for a frog.  Amanita muscaria are also commonly known as Fly Agaric or Fly Amanita.  These names are derived from the fact that dried pieces of these mushroom can be placed in milk to attract flies and kill them. The flies are attracted to a chemical the dried mushroom pieces give off and then become intoxicated on the poison.

These mushrooms are poisonous to humans, though this species may not be fatal in smaller doses, it can kill you.  Amanita muscaria was a favourite poison to use in ancient Rome. Their close relative Amanita phalloides commonly known as Death Cap is deadly poisonous if any amount is ingested.

I always find paintings depicting subjects with lighter colours hard to edit in Photoshop.  I use a scanner and Photoshop Elements 11 to edit my painting before posting so the backgrounds are nice a white.  Most times the scan comes out with a nice white background but then I have to adjust the colour levels as the scanning process always washes out the colour of the subject a little.

This painting was hard because even on the darkest scanner setting the lighter parts of the stalks were still not showing up. So I took a picture of the painting in even bright light and then edited out the background the long way in Photoshop using the Select tool, the Zoom tool, and the Eraser tool.  If anyone reading this has a better idea I'm all ears!  When your subject does not have any really light areas, usually a click of the Magic Wand tool will select everything you need to just press delete and get a nice white background.

Once I am finished my Diploma I hope to post some video tutorials on different ways to edit paintings in Photoshop.  If you have any good tips for editing paintings in Photoshop or questions about my editing methods leave a comment and I will get back to you.


  1. I've seen those mushrooms in photos before but never knew anything about them -so interesting! And love the painting of them, especially the softness of the ground in comparison to the detailing of the mushrooms.

    I'd love to know how you get the backgrounds so white when uploading and editing! I wanted to upload some handwritten pages but it's always so dark, and when I lighten it it erases the text. Maybe it's my scanner...

    Also wanted to let you know, I launched my new blog and set up a code for a button, it's JUNE19 for a free 200x100 space!

    Hope you're having a good week :)

  2. Thanks Holly! I cannot wait to check out your new website! Thank you for the promo code :)