Apply Traditional Art Techniques to Photo Composition

With the advent of modern tools, any photo composition can be turned into an art composition by applying a few simple art effects. You can employ any image manipulation software program like GIMP or Adobe Photoshop to achieve the effect. Here's how to apply these effects and techniques using Adobe Photoshop.

Step 1: Setup

You will select a suitable photograph to apply the effects to and then duplicate the background layer by hitting command (on a Mac) or control (on PC) + J. Apply the paint daubs filter by selecting the artistic sub menu from the filter menu. Depending on the type of the photograph and the subject, you can adjust the brush size, sharpness and the brush type parameters on the resulting screen.

You will now duplicate the layer again by hitting command or control + J and then add another filter. Select the stylize sub menu from the filters menu and click on glowing edges. You will adjust the edge width, brightness and smoothness parameters to get nice and smooth edges going. You will now invert the colors by hitting command or control + I and then de-saturate the image. Now change the blend mode to darken. This will produce a photograph that looks more like a sketch with some bright edges.

Step 2: Painting the Elements

You will now need to paint each element in the image on its own layer. Thus, you will need layers for each of them. You will create a new layer by hitting command or control + Shift + N and then paint the element by using the smudge tool. Wet media brushes are the most suitable to create Art style effects.

Start painting each area of the element and use a smaller brush for the detailed area and a larger one for others. Repeat the process on a new layer for each different element or subject in the original photograph.

Step 3: Adding a Composite Layer

To complete the painting process, you will need to add a composite layer on top of all the layers you have already created. To do this, you will hit command + option + shift + E on a Macintosh or command + alt + shift + E on a Windows machine. This will produce a new top layer that is composed of all the layers below it.

You will now add one more filter called the Bass Relief filter. You will select it by choosing the sketch sub menu from the filters menu. You will select the various parameters such as detail, smoothness and the light position depending on the original photograph, the nature of the subjects and their positioning relative to the natural light. This will give an embossed look to the picture. You will now go to the layer blend modes and select the overlay option. This will produce the appearance of coarse brush strokes.

You should now have the photograph that looks like an oil painting.