From a photo to a Painting

You have dozens of ways to create a "painterly" effect in Photoshop. Here is one illustrated.

Blur shadows, sharpen highlights, and add texture for a "painterly" effect.

  1. Open a copy of your image as a Smart Object.
    Choose File => Open as Smart Object or, if the image is already open, choose Layer => Smart Objects => Convert to Smart Object. When working with Smart Filters, you can later - if necessary - reopen the filter and change the settings.

  2. Select the shadows and blur. Open the Channels palette and Ctrl+click the channel at the top (RGB or CMYK or Lab) to make a selection according to the brightness of each pixel. Use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection (select shadows rather than highlights). Apply a slight Gaussian Blur, perhaps 1 or 2 pixels, to blur detail in the darker areas. (Remember that you can use the shortcut Ctrl+H to hide the "marching ants" and make the selection border disappear)

  3. Select the highlights and sharpen. You need to reselect the highlights, so again Ctrl+click the channel at the top (RGB or CMYK or Lab). Apply the Sharpen => Smart Sharpen filter with initial settings of Amount: 200% and Radius: 2 pixels. (Adjust the values to match the content of your image and your artistic vision.)

  4. Add a canvas texture to the image. Do not deselect (so that the texture will be applied a bit more prominently to the image’s highlights than to the shadows). Use the Texture => Texturizer filter to add a slight canvas texture, enhancing the painterly effect.


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