Photoshop Painting Effect Tutorial

It is easy to take any photograph and turn it into a painting using Photoshop with the painting Photoshop tool. Photoshop is image editing software created by Adobe, to help the user create professional looking images with stunning effects. There are several different effects that can be created using Photoshop, but in this tutorial we will be focusing on the painting effect. The painting effect tools allow you to create an image that looks like an oil painting in just a few simple steps. When selecting a photo, select a large file with lots of detail. Choosing a larger photograph helps create a more realistic looking painting with lots of line detail. The steps may vary slightly based on the version of Photoshop you are using, but if it varies, it will be noted in the tutorial.

Materials Needed

  • Photoshop software
  • Image files

Step 1: Brighten the Image

If you are using Photoshop version CS or Elements 3, then chose Image>Adjustments>Shadow Highlight from the menu options on the top of the screen. In the pop up box that opens, move the shadow slider to the maximum amount. This may make the image appear to bright, but this will be corrected before you finalize the image. If you are using Photoshop version 7 or older, open the curves or level setting to brighten the shadows. This step works to create more contrast between the shadows and the background so that the outline in the next step is more precise.

Step 2: Outline the Image

From the toolbar at the top of the screen, select Filter>Stylize>Find Edges. This selection will outline all of the pronounced edges. This step will alter the color of the image, but the original color will be restored in the next step. For the next step to work properly, it must be done directly after finishing this process. If you alter the image or go to any other menu options before starting the following step, the tool will not appear and you will need to start the process over again.

Step 3: Restore the Color

Once you have outline the image, choose Edit>Fade Find Edges. With this tool, open change the blend mode to luminosity. Making this change will restore the original colors back to the image. Once this is done, do not close the tool pop up box; you will need it for the next step.

Step 4: Adjust the Opacity

With the Fade Find Edges box still open, you will adjust the opacity of the image. Use your mouse to adjust the opacity slider down until you get the desired result. Decreasing the opacity merges the detail of the original image with the brightened image that you created in the previous step. If you are happy with the appearance of the image, you can now save your painting as a JPEG file. Your painting in now ready to be shared with friends or printed for framing.


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