Benedict Cumberbatch Vincent van Gogh painting

Well, it's not your typical tutorial, my dear friends. Just on a roll with the Photoshop oil painting technique. This time around, I'll be painting everything from scratch, only using reference material for colors and such.

I chose Benedict Cumberbatch because, in my humble opinion, he bore a striking resemblance to Vincent Van Gogh himself.

Scroll down to see the video and still image.

Little did I know before I painted this that Benedict Cumberbatch has already played Vincent Van Gogh, Dam! I should have searched the internet before I started.

Painting Benedict in Photoshop

I'm still learning how to do oil painting in Photoshop. Normally, I use PS for web and graphic design. I used a few brushes that I downloaded somewhere on the net. Search realistic brushes in Photoshop, and you should find tons of free brushes. As it turned out, I only used one brush for the whole thing.

What you need

I used a reference painting from Vincent called "Self-portrait with bandaged ear," painted in 1889. Also, a photograph of Benedict in a coat matched the painting, or it was the best one I could find on Google Images.

Oil painting of Benedict Cumberbatch in Van Gogh style

Oil painting, how is it done?

It's quite easy, if time-consuming, to re-create all the little brush strokes. Vincent van Gogh's painting style is characterized by bold, expressive brushwork, vivid use of color, and an emphasis on conveying emotion. He used rhythmic brush strokes that were tightly arranged at some points and used loosely at others.

Given the amount of work he produced before his death, he must have worked really quickly. I did find this quote by Art historian Richard Kendall "He painted quickly and sometimes with little regard for fine details, often capturing the essence and emotion of a scene or subject rather than its precise representation."

The basic technique is to paint over the top of the image. I selected a color, created a new layer and bashed in paint strokes. I did this over and over to build up paint layers. I tried to do this as quickly as I could, without thinking too much to create that rhythmic feel.

I also tried to clone in brush marks, but I don't think this is a good idea. It's better to keep each brush stroke unique to stop it from looking like a clone.

To speed up the process, I merged paint layers as I went along. Also, in the end, I duplicated the finished painting and sharpened the hell out of it to make the brush strokes have more depth.

Painting in action


If I spent more time on the painting, it would look less cartoon-like. The black edges need more depth and color. The face needs more shades and depth. Overall, I'm happy with the result.

Get me to do the oil painting for you

If you don't have time to do your oil painting in Photoshop, then you can hire me to do it for you. I now offer this as a service, but be warned, it's not cheap. It can take well over 5 hours of work to create the oil painting effect. I've proved that it's not that difficult, but it does take time. The cost depends on your picture. The more complex, the more it costs. If you are interested, you'll need:

  • A high-resolution photograph (nothing shot on your mobile phone)
  • A well-lit photograph
  • A head shoulder shot

Drop me an email if you want to know more. That is all.