I don’t use many adobe Photoshop filters, turns out most are total crap. Try the art effects, they are shockingly bad, nothing like what I would expect anyway. Rant over, I’m using Photoshop cs5 to get this oil painting technique, but its so easy you could do it with any version.
You don’t need any fancy filters (apart from smart sharpen), no graphics tablet, and to be blunt very little skill to achieve real nice results from your photo. I’m sure there are third party filters that would get you close to this oil painting effect but I’m not using them here.
My oil painting effect
First off you need a good photo, the higher the resolution the better. This won’t work so well with a tiny 72dpi image, so get a good hires photo to start with. It’s also best, if you have your subject in the center of the photo, looking at the camera. You could do this oil painting with any subject matter, but for this tutorial we’ll keep it simple.
View the time lapse video of me working, the oil painting technique is very simple. The basic premise is that we are brushing over the top of the original photo with the smudge tool. Its all in the brush work or in this case the mouse work – and goes something like this.
The basic painting technique
- Pick a big art brush (fan brush is good)
- Select the smudge tool
- Duplicate your photo layer
- Follow the contour of the face and smudge very roughly at first
- Use long flowing brush marks (the aim is to smudge everything, eventually)
- After you have smudged each area, like the ear, flatten with the layer below
- Adjust the Strength of the smudge tool to get different effects.
- Duplicate the layer and smudge again
Oil painting in Photoshop tips
Change your paint brush, and brush size often, so the brush marks are not all the same. The eye for instance will need a smaller brush, the forehead a bigger brush.
The fan brush is good for blending. I’ve used it to blend the edge of the person to the background, to give that blurry, misty painting technique.
Push the paint around from dark areas to lighter areas and vice versa. Use long and short brush strokes. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, just undo or smudge the paint over the mistake.
Change the strength of the smudge tool, 80% is good for strong bold brush marks, 40% is good to blend the paint rather than smudge it. Less than 40% produces very delicate results a bit like the blur tool.
You could use blur filter to blur the edge of the figure, so it looks a bit more dreamlike. Be carefull not to over do it.
Sharpen the image to get realistic brush strokes
Once you have finished your smudge painting, you need to sharpen your image to reveal the brush marks. This really brings the painting to life, it makes it pop, and looks like real brush strokes – it goes something like this.
- Duplicate your paint layer
- Use filter/smart sharpen
- Set Amount to 500% and radius of 1.8 (depending on your photo resolution, adjust)
- Look good? now knock back the opacity a bit.
Optionally add a texture layer
Finally I’ve added a kind of paint overlay to my whole image and knocked it back. I just wanted some extra texture in the background to give it a kind of aged look. You don’t need this, but I liked it.
This oil painting technique might sound complicated but trust me its really, really easy to do.
Thanks for popping by.
After the oil painting effect
take care of yourself…and each other.