This morning, my photograph (taken with my iPhone) seemed to shout, “Turn me into a painting!” However, having other things to paint and little time, I wasn’t about to give in — no matter how demanding the photograph was (yes, I know, I need to do something about this feeling I have that these photographs are talking to me). Anyhow, that’s when I decided I’d just use Photoshop Elements to create my painting — it’s a lot less messy and there’s no cleanup time required!
Because my photograph was simple with minimal intricate details, it was easy to simulate a painted look. The following explains how I did it:
Step 1: Apply Dry Brush Filter
Open up your photograph in Photoshop Elements and then select Filter>Artistic>Dry Brush and set the Brush Size to 10, Brush Detail to 0, Texture to 2, and press OK.
Step 2: Duplicate and Blend
Let’s create a couple of copies, multiply the dry brush effect a little, and apply some blending modes:
- Create a copy of the Background layer: Ctrl-J (Mac: Command-J). Then, select Filter>Dry Brush.
- Create a copy of Layer 1: Ctrl-J (Mac: Command-J). Then, select Filter>Dry Brush.
- Click on Layer 1 and set the blend mode to Screen.
- Click on Layer 1 copy and set the blend mode to Multiply.
Step 3: Add Some Tooth
The previous two steps helped us create drama (through contrast) and make our lines appear as if they were created with fluid. Now, it’s time to complete the look of our painting by adding some tooth — or paper texture — to our image:
- Select Layer>New Fill Layer> Pattern and press OK.
- Press the down-arrow (right of the pattern image) to open the Pattern Picker. Then, click the double arrow to see the drop-down options and choose Artist Surfaces.
- Select the Dark Course Weave (and make sure that the scale is 100%) and press OK.
- Set the blending mode to Soft Light
And that’s it: A quick way to get a painting from an image without the bother of dirty brushes to clean after your done! While you’re at it, here are a few more techniques to try, too:
- In his video tutorial, Illustration Effect, Corey Barker shares how to create an unfinished painting effect from your photos.
- Larry Becker shares how to create a more realistic watercolor effect in his article, Creating Believable Watercolors.
- Create a Painting from a Photo by Dave Cross shows how to use a combination of filters to pull off a painterly image.
- In his article, Making Photos Into Paintings, Dave Huss transforms photographs into digital works of art.
- Mark Clarkson rescues flawed images in Rescue A Flawed Photo With Smudge Painting, saying that smudge painting is one of his favorite techniques for turning photos into lovely digital paintings.