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How to make photos look like paintings?

Jackson T. Gilbert , Feb 10, 2007; 02:34 p.m.


I am trying to figure out how to make photo's look like paintings? I have asked a few people who I have seen their works but I just get answers as *play with Photoshop* and *Its a lotta work*, ok...but that don't explain it.

Can some one explain to me how to? Or point me to a tutorial on line...no books please, or even give me a name in which this is called so as I can research? Or is there a program or plug-in that does the work for you?

Here are a few examples of what I'm referencing:






Now, I have not asked the photographer above, just point to his as an example.

Best Regards and thanks for any assistance you offer,



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Rich 815 , Feb 10, 2007; 03:57 p.m.

Response to Req Help> How to make photos look like paintings.

The only thing that looks like paintings to me in those photos are the background.

But if you want to find tutorials to do photos that look like paintings a Google search on "Photos Painting look tutorial" or "Photos Painting look" brings up a lot of links.

Beau Hooker , Feb 10, 2007; 04:14 p.m.

Response to Req Help> How to make photos look like paintings.

Hi Jack, Some of them look a tad "Draganized" - a Photoshop technique named after its discoverer. You can got to ATNCentral, which is a site that has free Photoshop Actions and at least one "Draganizer" you can download and run on any image(s) you'd like.

They also have actions for watercolor paintings, charcoal drawings, etc.

But if you really want to jump into the "big leagues" you'll probably want a copy of Corel Painter X (Version 10... The "X" is a Roman numeral).

And if you decide to go that route you might as well budget for a Wacom tablet to use in place of a brush because you'll probably need it. Good luck!

Emre Safak , Feb 10, 2007; 04:18 p.m.

What you really meant to ask is "how can I texturize my photographs like this?" The answer is to simply overlay the textures on your image, use a layer mask, and fiddle with the blending modes.

Tim Lookingbill , Feb 10, 2007; 05:29 p.m.

The new movie coming out later this year called "300" is draganized or resembles this technique. From the look of the previews it's quite an interesting look for a gladiator type movie.

Dick Hilker , Feb 10, 2007; 05:46 p.m.

There are a number of Photoshop filters that can help: watercolor. paint daube.dry brush, etc.. Also, the free plug-ins from Xero Graphics have some interesting effects. Combined with a canvas texture from Photoshop, the overall effect can be quite good.

Hugh Croft , Feb 10, 2007; 11:35 p.m.

What I've figured out so far: It all centres around using a number of layers. This usually involves at least one textured layer. This might be a foto of a wall or rusty metal. The skill is finding the right blend mode and typically using a lot less than 100% of the texture layer. Typically, adjustment layers then need to be used, curves, levels,and saturation. You may want to try 'match colour' in PS, to use the colour range from a different foto. What seem to be scratches are done using very large brushes just dabbed once, I think.

From the PS filters, 'Clouds' on a separate layer is useful. The dodge and burn brushes often are used.


I would be very interested to hear from those who are really good at it how they do it...

Pam R , Feb 11, 2007; 02:51 a.m.

You can do this by using textures. These are simply photos of interesting surfaces, clouds, water reflections, etc. Place them on a separate layer and experiment with blend modes and opacities, and mask out your subject. They can be used to interact with the existing background, or replace it completely.

I recently wrote an article on creative post-processing for the latest edition of Pbase magazine, #8. One of the three techniques I explain shows how to use textures, and I list a few online sources (you can also use your own). The article is under "Photoshopography" and it starts on page 15:

Pbase magazine, issue #8

In my gallery I have some examples of work done using textures. Here is one:
Dre, after applying textures

Before applying the textures:
Dre, before

More examples can be found here:
Transformations gallery with more texture examples

Andre Easter , Feb 11, 2007; 09:38 a.m.

I really have to ask what I think should be an obvious question; why would anyone want to make a photograph look like a painting? Why make a rose look like a pine tree? Of all the possibilities available in this digital era, this is the one that makes the absolute least amount of sense.

Don E , Feb 11, 2007; 11:59 a.m.

"I really have to ask what I think should be an obvious question; why would anyone want to make a photograph look like a painting?"

I haven't seen anyone yet who really wants to. What they want to make is a photograph that looks like another photograph they think looks like a painting.

If anyone wants to actually do such a thing, it would be best to get more specific...a "painting"? Which style? Which painter? Vermeer? Degas? David? Many painters' styles and working methods are known and can be emulated in the studio and in Photoshop. I've a recent post that looks at Vermeer's technique. However, this is not usually what the photographer wants. What they want is the knowledge of where they can download a (free) action.

Pictorial or painterly photographs were all the rage in the late 19th early 20th centuries. One may not have to study painters, one can study photographers from that era and how they did it.

Consider this: in the post-WWII period commercial illustrators took the step from taking photographs as studies for their illustrations to painting photographs ('photorealism') directly. They had experience with both, they had knowledge of the history and techniques of both.

I haven't seen a request for such information yet that actually specified what is meant by "look like a painting".

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