See a Photo Turn Into a Painting
I have been asked to tell how I do both my photos and Photoshop paintings. I will try to explain both here by talking about the use of Photoshop.
Not being a photographer and not being all that patient about my photos, I rarely rely on Photoshop to make an image substantially better. The above image is an unretouched image of tulips, taken with my little Nikon point and shoot on Automatic. Nothing special.
The small images with dark red captions are photos with filters applied, available in Photoshop. Usually, they are used in combination with other techniques like you will see below to help get a finished result. Click to make larger.
I have been entering the Gardening Gone Wild Contest, never really expecting to compete with all the wonderful work that gets submitted monthly. I have been refraining from using Photoshop and trying to have better images right from the get go.
I know that Photoshop is a mere tool at the photographer’s disposal, just as is a filter you might use on the lens. Or the lenses themselves for that matter. I can pop on a macro lens, wide angle, or perspective lens and they will distort my image in a way to enhance and better what I capture. My Nikon cameras themselves have many settings which will correct for any inadequacy I may have as a photographer. I now shoot many exposures to get a good shot, rather than relying on Landscape, Program or Automatic settings. I never use the macro setting though. I like more control for that kind of shot.
Colored Pencil and Dark Strokes
The image below has one big difference from the unretouched image. See the hot spot in the upper right of the unretouched photo? I used a tool in Photoshop called Content Aware. It is kinda like it sounds. It takes a portion of the image that you may want to replace with a portion of the image better suited to the final shot.
Content Aware has roughly removed the hot spot and replaced it with more of the fencing. If this was to be a photograph, I would have made that so much better. You would not have known that it was changed. I left it off a bit, so you could see how the tool works. It looked around my selected area and determined what it needed to replace. I love this tool. I rarely clone anymore.
Sharpening and Contrast
When I was in college I did darkroom work that now Photoshop can do for me. I did studio work with lighting and reflective shades that I can also simulate with Photoshop. If I want a lens flare, that can be done. I feel that photography is an art like all others and your tools are your trade.
I have been making an effort to shoot either in the morning or late afternoon, but I do prefer cloudy days, especially after a rain. Unfortunately, my job does not always cooperate with the free time to take photos.
I have no problem sharpening my image and adding contrast if needed. I almost always do that now because I found many of my photos flat right out of the camera. The above image has been sharpened, cropped and the contrast increased. I am doing that for making a base to create a painting. There is not a great difference, but the blacks are sharper.
This image, I used a filter called Accented Edges. It applies a brush like stroke to bring out the edges it detects in the image. See the subtle dark lines outlining the forms?
Next I add a watercolor filter. It could have easily been Fresco or Palette Knife if I wanted a slightly different base image. Either one will break up the color into smaller ‘brushstrokes’. This is a great time saver.
Water Color Added to Accented Edges Filter
Below I am starting to actually paint the image with the Mixer Brushes. I use a tablet, not a mouse. The tablet has a stylus pen.
What the Mixer Brush does is it senses the photo as paint is laid down on the surface of the ‘paper’ or ‘canvas’. And all the pixels are like paint drops. The brushes will mix them and basically drag pixels to where I want them.
It is a long process to really get a good painting. It requires a lot of laying down new ‘paint’ and blending, creating shadows and highlights, like you would do with traditional painting. The advantage here is you have the image to start with. When I would finish a painting, most likely, no pixel would be left untouched.
I often will add leaves or petals to make a better composition. Below I painted a leaf from scratch and added a second leaf with a little depth of field blur. This painting has a long way to go as I would add brush strokes to appear more prominently. I will show this step by step with screen shots if you would like in a future post.
Painted with Brushes
But you can see how in a short time, I can go from the original image, to the beginning of a painting. I would do much more work before simulating canvas like below, but I think you get the process.
Here is something else I added to show some artistic license to a photo, some fake water drops. I did it on a duplicate of the original image to the right most petals of the far right tulip. Here is the closeup view. It looks a little more realistic further away, but I wanted you to see the detail. This is a process I think you could even do in PS Elements, if Elements has Render – Clouds, that is. It has been a long time since I had Elements loaded on any of my computers.
Water Drops Created Using Many Steps
I have a painting I am doing of a lily for the Lewiston GardenFest poster. I did spend many hours on it and it is really quite nice. When the poster is approved by all the committee members next week, I will be a step closer to showing you what they are doing for their walk. Plus, I started the website. I guess I should say we, because I am now a happy member of the Lewiston Garden Club.
I am also a member of the Garden Club of Niagara. I have shown you some of the fun activities that we do in that club too. We have some exciting things planned.
If you like me explaining tricks and tips, ask anytime and I will show you how I go about making an image into a painting. I can do tutorials if you like. Or if you want to know how to improve a photo, I can show you step by step. Occasionally I will have such an image in a post.
It is rare I take the time to do more than sharpen and add contrast though. Some of my birds and squirrels were sharpened and had brightness or contrast adjusted. I adjusted exposure on some too. I will go through what I would do to a regular photo if I took the time to enhance it too. If this post proves popular, you can expect more detailing the how-tos.