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  • Writer's pictureRobert Hopkins and iPhoto FTW!

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Wow, that's quite mysterious! What's the meaning behind " and iPhoto FTW"?

Well, "FTW" is straightforward for most gamers—it stands for "For The Win"! The other part, not so much.

I've been contemplating methods to obtain reference images for my paintings. I also want to convert them into vector format for potential tracing. Occasionally, due to my limited ability to free-hand accurately, I find it necessary to trace the image onto my watercolor painting using either a projector or a monitor. I personally prefer using a monitor, but I also have a projector on hand.

I'm committed to avoiding any copyright issues, so I exclusively source my images from It's a website where photographers generously allow their images to be used freely by anyone.

Once I've selected an image I like, I upload it to This site transforms the image into a vector format. After obtaining the vector image, I save it to iPhoto. From there, I convert the image to either "Mono", "Silvertone", or "Noir". This makes tracing easier and eliminates color, which is crucial for me. Interpreting color can be a challenge for my eyes, so keeping it in black-and-white forces me to ensure that the colors I've used in my painting harmonize well. Achieving the right color match doesn't always come naturally, at least not for me.

Here's the progression of images, starting from the original, to the vectorized version, and finally to black and white for value reference:

Original Image:

Vectorized Image, notice the lantern?

Cleaned up using iPhoto and turned into black and white:

I use this for tracing, painting by values, and its been cleaned up in iPhoto for any blemishes. Notice the missing leaf at the right-top of the image being gone? That bugged me and it detracted from the focal point which is the lamp.

Also, noticed the foreground leaves are much darker? This helps the viewer see a sense of depth in the image which is critical in paintings.

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