*A rumble from the mountains far
Tell of the storms approach
As lightning leaves it’s burning scar
And darkness does encroach
So high above the valley lake
The castle does stand proud
Built to withstand the thunder’s quake
And rains from thunder’s cloud
It’s turrets standing tall and lean
Their tips the lightning sears
Many storms the castle’s seen
Over a hundred years*
This artwork was inspired when I found a very old photograph of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany in the public domain images at the US Library of Congress. It is an old photochrom print that was taken between 1890 to 1905 (exact date unknown), that was taken shortly after the completion of the castle. The shot location had a wonderful and unique perspective, unlike any other that I have ever seen of the castle. This is the same castle that the Disneyland ‘Magic Kingdom’ castle was modeled around by Walt Disney, and is probably the most famous castle in the world.
The public domain image was badly aged and damaged, as well as, scanned very poorly by the Library of Congress, so the first step in creating this digital painting was actually a photo restoration project. I spent many hours removing scratches, dust, hairs, and painting back in areas where the emulsion had peeled away. I rotated it to straighten it back up again, as this was thrown off not by the original photographer, but rather by the sloppy job of scanning the image at the Library of Congress.
Next I color-corrected the image and enhanced the contrast and details. I dropped in a sky from one of my own photographs, as the original sky was just to damaged and faded. I resized and cropped the image, applying the rule of thirds to the castle, as well as giving it a better dimension for printing and framing.
A lot of time and care went into this restoration, so much that I was able to bring it up in size almost 50 percent from the original, while retaining decent print quality. I have a thumbnail of the original photo before the restoration work below, as well as, a thumbnail of the finished restoration. Clicking on the thumbnail of the original image will link you to the image source at the Library of Congress, should you get a hankering to give this wonderful image a shot yourself.
Final Restoration of Neuschwanstein Castle Image
The digital painting was then created using the restored photo. The restoration work, composite work, and the digital painting were all done in Photoshop. The original is 4800 × 4200 pixels at 300 pixels per inch. Because the original is so large and difficult to see over the internet, I have included a couple of detail cutaways below.