Home Tutorials Realistic brushes – oil painting pt 1 – Tutorials
Tutorials - January 23, 2021

Realistic brushes – oil painting pt 1 – Tutorials

Turning photographs into realistic-looking oil paintings or pencil sketches requires more than just the application of filters. Learn how to use Photoshop”s brush collection to obtain the best results. Part one – oil painting.

There are many filters out there that promise to transform digital photographs into oil paintings, but it has to be said that most fail miserably.

To create a truly realistic oil painting effect we need to be a little more inventive. One of the most important characteristics of an oil painting is the contrast of thin areas of paint set against areas of thick, solid paint or impasto.

Another vitally important factor is texture. Oil paintings have a surface quality that is unique to the medium itself, and for the effect to be convincing we need to mimic this accurately.

Fortunately, Photoshop has a selection of brushes that are made for this very purpose. These brushes can apply colour and convincing textures at the same time.

For the thick impasto effect we can employ a layer style that will give the brushstroke a subtle 3D quality.

Remember, this project will be far more successful if a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet is used, as the brushes we’re going to use have properties that respond directly to stylus pressure.

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1. To begin the painting, make a toned canvas layer for the final image to be “painted” onto. With the start image open, add a new layer (Ctrl/ Cmd+Shift+N), naming the layer “Canvas”.

Choose a warm grey for the foreground colour and go to Edit > Fill > Use Foreground color. We’ll add a canvas texture to this background a little later.

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2. We need to create a rough under-drawing that will form a framework for the painting. Click on the background layer and duplicate it using Ctrl/Cmd+J.

Drag this duplicate layer to the top of the layer stack. Now go to Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges. Use these settings: Edge Width: 5, Edge Brightness: 13, Smoothness: 11.

Remove the colour from this layer using Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+U) and invert the layer with Image > Adjustments > Invert (Ctrl/Cmd+I).

Set the blending mode for this layer to Multiply, opacity to 57 per cent.

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3. Duplicate the background layer again (with Ctrl/Cmd+J), dragging the duplicate to the top of the layer stack. Increase the colour saturation using Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation, dragging the Saturation slider to 33.

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4. To lose some of the detail in the image and begin to create a painterly effect, go to Filter > Artistic > Palette Knife. Use 12 for Stroke Size, 2 for Stroke Detail, and 10 for Softness.

Click OK to apply the filter. Set the blending mode for this layer to Hard Light.

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5. Hide this layer with a mask using Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. We need to set up the properties of a particular brush, so choose the Brush tool and click in the Brush Picker. Hit the right-pointing arrow in the Picker, select Wet Media Brushes, and choose Brush Light Texture Medium Tip from the brush thumbnails.

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6. Hit F5 to display the Brush Options. Click the Texture category and increase the Texture Scale to 85 per cent. Choose Shape Dynamics, setting the Minimum Diameter to 65 per cent.

Finally, if using a graphics tablet, choose Other Dynamics and set Opacity Jitter Control to Pen Pressure.

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7. Select white as the foreground colour. Working on the layer mask, begin to paint over the image.

Be sure to leave some gaps here and there, allowing the canvas to show through the painted areas. Use the brush at varying sizes to introduce some interest.

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8. Traditionally in oil painting techniques, the dark areas are painted thinly and the light areas are painted with thick paint, or impasto, so bear this in mind as you continue to paint into the image, overlaying more brushstrokes in the light areas.

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9. As you paint, you’ll see that because we’ve chosen a brush that carries texture with its stroke, you begin to create a convincing “paint on canvas” effect with the brushstrokes.

At this stage, don’t worry about painting over the fabric that the objects are lying on, just concentrate on the violin and sheet music.

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10. As you get toward the outside edges of the painting, make your brushstrokes far less opaque and more sketchy. Control the opacity of the Brush either using the slider in the Options bar or, if you’re using a graphics tablet, by the pressure applied to the stylus.

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This article was extracted from Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook by Tim Shelbourne. This book is highly recommended by Digit, and is available now at a retail price of £17.95 from ILEX, the digital creative’s publisher of choice.

With Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook, you don’t have to be a Photoshop expert to achieve great results quickly and easily.

It features 61 easy-to-follow recipes, and is packed full of practical advice and creative tips. It’s the ultimate Photoshop handbook for creative photographers and artists.

Digit has teamed up with the ILEX Press – publisher of hundreds of digital design books – to offer readers a discount on its latest titles, including Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook.

To order your copy with a 20 per cent discount and free P&P (usually £3.50), visit www.ilex-press.com/digit. Or, please write to Digit Offer, ILEX Press Ltd, The Old Candlemakers, West Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2NZ or telephone 01273 487 440.

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