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Creating oil-effect paintings using Photoshop's Art History brush

Creating oil-effect paintings using Photoshop's Art History brush - Lack any kind of artistic ability but want to create oil-painting style portraits? Youíve come to the right place as talent-free Duncan Evans explains.

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Adobe Photoshop

It would be great to be able to pick up a canvas, throw on some paint and sell it for a couple of million quid. However, my painting ability stretches as far as doing the front room in magnolia, and that's about it. Thank goodness then for the wonders of digital imaging, where any talent less wannabee artist can rustle up a half convincing effort in less time than it takes to unpack all the brushes, pour paint onto the palette and wear nothing but a white smock. All you need is a photo and an image editing program that supports layers and has some kind of artist-like brush facility. For this tutorial I'm using Photoshop CS3 and the Art History brush.

Download the PodcastThe screengrabs have been resized for the web page display. Just click on them to see the full size grab. You can also listen to the tutorial on the move, or while you are trying it out on your computer. Yes, just download the Podcast now! It's 4.75Mb in size. Right-click on it and Save Target As to save to your computer. If you left-click on it then it will start playing directly.

The original image was a dead loss. It's out of focus and highlights on the white outfit have burnt out. Happily though, none of these things matter because the composition and subject are both fine for this kind of project. If doing a portrait, look for a photo with either a plain background or one that is out-of-focus.

Load the original image and right click on it in the Layers palette. Select Duplicate and name this layer as the Paint layer. Then select the Art History brush from the Tools palette. Set the brush size to around 20 pixels, the opacity to 50%, the Style to Tight Short and the Area to 20 pixels. The brush size basically dictates the sampling area whereas the Area setting sets how wide the effect is applied. Select the Paint layer and then start making sweeping brushes in the direction that the hair runs in.
oil painting step 1

2. The Art History brush will recycle continuously if you hold the mouse button down and keep it still. The idea is to drag in the direction that any features or texture run in. When you get to the eyes, reduce the brush size to 10 pixels and set the Area to 15 pixels. Paint the iris and then the eyelids which will close the detail back in around the eye. Be careful not to produce a bug-eyed look. Once the mouth and teeth have been done, restore the settings to 20 and 20 pixels as before. oil painting step 2


3. Once the head, hair and beads on the chest area have been done, increase the brush size to 30 pixels and the Area to 30 pixels as well. Now you can get through the rest of the clothing. Also, paint the area of background that is in focus - just to the left of the arm, with this brush as well. oil painting step 3



4. Keep the same brush and now paint all around the figure, where the background is adjacent to it. Then increase the brush size to 75 and the Area to 75 and rapidly paint in the rest of the background. oil painting step 4


5. Now to make it look more like oil-brush strokes. Select the Smudge tool and set the Size to 30 pixels and the Strength to 50%. Use short strokes, repeated often, to go over the textures again. To do the eyes, reduce the size to 10 pixels for more fine detail. Then back up to 30 and get clicking. When doing the background, don't bother with subtlety, just wave the cursor about. oil painting step 5



6. Finally, create a new, duplicate layer of the Paint layer and call this Canvas layer. Then got to Filter > Texture > Texturizer. Select Canvas as the Texture and set Relief at 5. Apply this and then change the Opacity of the layer down until the effect looks natural. In this case it was just 25%. Merge the layers then and save. oil painting step 6


Here's the final image, with the paint and canvas effects. You can download the high res version for a close up look.
oil painting final










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This is a usful and artistic method of using photos that I love but which were a bit out of focus. Thanks so much


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