So even if you do not have Corel Painter or artistic talent, you can get some pretty amazing results with some Photoshop plug-ins and layer masks. These beautiful plumeria were taken in Hawaii and are a good example of what can be done with just a little set up. I am giving you some of my preset settings that you can try to see if you can get good some results.
This image used Topaz (see website at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression to do the basic paint effect in this image. This worked because I created a wild preset in Impression I call SJ WC like effect on bkgds with the Brush Stroke changed to 1.00, to get this abstract background look. (Settings: Stroke: Brush Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0.15, St -0.20, and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and Lightness 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting: Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, and Light Direction x0.33 and y0.06; and Texture: Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type Solid, and Background #d38967 (soft melon color). ) I was really surprised what these rather strange settings did to the background and making it look as though it was actually painted by hand. By duplicating the layer underneath and moving it on top of the Impression layer, then adding a black layer mask to it, the actual objects or flowers in this case can be painted back. See the original image as brought in from Lightroom at end of Image 2 section below. Since Topaz ReStyle had been applied to the layer underneath, there was already a bit of a grainy artsy effect applied to the overall image before Impression was applied to it. By duplicating the ReStyle layer, the graininess is still visible in the flowers when painted back and they blend in nicely with background. I tried adding another dose of the same Impression preset to the layer and got a very different background look so give this a try also. See Image 1 below for full instructions on the image workflow.
Instead of using a plain round brush, I used my SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder brush set to a 30% or less brush opacity on the layer mask to add some softer edges when painting back the flowers. This is important to get a the painterly look. This same brush was used on several New Layers to clean up more edges, add some defining lines in the flowers, and blend in some additional color. (See my How To Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up blog for settings to create this brush.) Just sample colors, both the darker colors and lighter colors next to it, to soften edges. Any brush you like will do, but try to find something with some rough edges for this technique. I know I have mentioned it before, but GrutBrushes.com has different media type brushes for Photoshop, and on each Monday a free brush can be downloaded-click on Resources tab. This is a great way to try out different kinds of brushes and see which ones work best for painting on New Layers and which work well with layer masks, or both.
This image is of beautiful Flagler Beach, Florida, where another example of the same type of painted background effect was created. The original image was very blown out as I thought this was what I wanted the image to feel like at that point in post-processing. This time my SJ Painterly Impressionistic preset was used for the background, which produces a much smoother background effect. (Settings: Stroke: Brush Type 09, Brush Size 0.75, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation, Stroke Color Variation, Stroke Width, and Stroke Length all set to 0; Spill 0.63, Smudge 0.10, and Coverage 1.00; no Color changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture Strength 0.25, Size 0, Canvas II, Background Type white solid, and Background White.) A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) without including the Topaz Impression layer, and moved on top. Impression was opened again and my SJ Painterly Imp Mod was applied (Settings: SJ Painterly Imp mod – Stroke: Type 09, Point Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.75, Stroke Rotation 0, Stoke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width -0.25, Stroke Length -0.17, Spill 0.63, Smudge 0.09, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Saturation -0.23, Orange Sat -0.27, Yellow Sat 0.28, and Aqua Sat 0.51; Lighting Brightness 0.08 and Contrast 0.14; and Texture Strength 0.25, Size 0, Canvas II, Background Type white solid, and Background White.) Any plug-in or Photoshop filter could be applied at this stage to get different effects on the main objects. A black layer mask was added and just the wanted objects were painted back. The color scheme did not suit me so Topaz ReStyle was used on a stamped layer to change up the colors. Pretty easy to get this painterly effect. See Image 2 for more post-processing details.
This time the image was taken at Sea World Orlando of the Flamingo Peddle Boats using Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4, which has a rather different approach to adding painterly effects to a layer. This program lets you set control points and make parts of the image very “photorealistic” if you want. In this case no control points were used but just the Impasto Detail preset. I really like the texture this plug-in adds to an image. This time the original background layer was duplicated and a black layer mask added. Only the fountains’ water was painted back from the original image. Topaz ReStyle was added above using a stamped layer on top with the Saturation Station preset, which created the pinkish tones. See Image 3 below for more details.
I hope you will try out either one or both plug-ins, Topaz Impression and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4, to see what results you can get. The whole basic concept is to change up a duplicate layer and apply something a little outrageous but making a nice background look. Then duplicate the original background layer, place it on top – then apply a different filter to it, use the same filter with different settings, or just use the original layer. Add a black layer mask (CTRL+I in the mask to change white to black) and with a white low opacity brush paint back what you want to show through. Use different types of brushes to paint back these effects in the masks. These two painterly plug-ins are not the only ones that will give nice effects – try Topaz Adjust or Topaz Simplify, or maybe Nik Analog Pro 2 for example. And don’t forget to try Topaz ReStyle if you want to change up the color scheme. This all can give a really nice painterly effect without having to paint every stroke in the image.
Enjoy your painting!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: First do the basic tone and color changes in Lightroom or Camera Raw. In Photoshop, I used Topaz Detail to sharpen up the image as I wanted the details to still show up nicely in the flowers and the colors were also adjusted in this plug-in. Topaz ReStyle was applied on a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFTS+E) above. This time I used a preset that had lots of blue tones as I wanted the colors to be more bluish as opposed to the yellow and green colors in the original and it softened the background colors. A Basic Mask in the plug-in was used to paint back just the flowers to keep the details. Next Topaz Impression was opened on a duplicate layer and my SJ WC like Effect on bkgds presets was used to get this crazy painterly background. Settings are shown above. The ReStyle layer was duplicated and placed on top with a black layer mask (Add layer mask and (CTRL+I) in the mask to turn black). Clean up on several layers and Nik Viveza was used to slightly darken the background edges and lighten the flowers a little. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase contrast.
Image 2: First Topaz Clarity was applied to the image – used one of my presets to get the image the sharpness I wanted (SJ Big Clouds preset with changes: Dynamics Micro Contrast 0.98, Low Contrast -0.14, Medium Contrast 0.22, and High Cntrast -0.37; Tone Level -0.23, Midtones 0.19, and White Level -0.19; Hue Green -0.30; Sat Red 0.03, Orange -0.78, Yellow 0.28, Green 0.19, Blue -0.25, and Overall 0.03; and Lum Red 0.39, Orange 0.11, Yellow -0.47, Green 0.23, Aqua 0.55, Blue -0.09, Purple 0.14, Magenta -0.20, and Overall -0.20. ) I like to use Clarity on landscape images. Topaz DeNoise 5 was used set to Overall 0.13 and Highlights 0.72. Since I am never sure how my final image will look, I usually try to get my image as sharp as I can. On a stamped layer above, Topaz Impression preset (SJ Painterly Impressionistic) was added as discussed above. Then another stamped layer and the second Topaz Impression preset (SJ Painterly Imp Mod) was applied with the black layer mask. Just painted back what I wanted with my SJ Past 3-painting texture adder brush. Curves, Selective Color and Color Balance Adjustment Layers were added. Then on a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and a preset taken from an image processed previously was used or I would give you the settings. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add a little structure to the focal point. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to tone down the dark areas.
Image 3: There was not as much to do with this image as Snap Art added a lot of the effect I actually wanted in the image. Next ReStyle was added using the Saturation Station preset. Two separate layers were added where Kyle’s Spatter Brushes – Spatter Bot B (75% layer opacity) and Aaron Nace’s Glitter Brush (12% layer opacity – info for making this brush can be found at end of my Some Christmas Cheer and Resources blog) for a little more miscellaneous water being thrown around. Nik Viveza 2 was used to give a little bit of a darkened vignette feel around the edges of the image. The last step was a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with Master set to Saturation -76 to try and soften the big dark blue splotches in the trees. The layer mask was filled with black and just the splotches were painted back with a white brush where the blue was.