LEARNING TO PAINT IN PHOTOSHOP
Even though I have been spending a lot of my time recently trying to learn some of the “bells and whistles” of Corel Painter, I find I still enjoy going back into Photoshop and using brushes I am more familiar with using. This is where I started learning painting techniques and I believe it is a good place for others to start. Painter has a lot to offer, but you have to get used to using brushes in either program to create beautiful images – for me Photoshop was the place to begin. And selecting flower images was a nice easy place to get the feel of a brush or to experiment with new settings. That is what was done in this case above with the Alstroemeria flower that was shot a while back.
1. First a texture was dragged into and re-sized to fit an image from Bridge, but you can right click and choose Place -> In Photoshop. If you open the texture in Photoshop and then move it into the image, you lose the texture name in the Layer Panel which I find useful to have. I guess you can tell it is Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures Christmas Present Texture that she graciously gave away for the holidays. Can’t say enough good things about her textures! If you want to learn a lot more on this effect from a real expert, she offers classes on this type of painting at her site . This texture was left at Normal blend mode and 100% layer opacity.
2. Next a layer mask was added to the texture and the flower was painted out partially with black to hide some of the petal edges using my Chalk Brush set to 30% opacity. This was an easy brush to create and a good example of one I just started using and liked the results – in this case just used Photoshop’s Chalk Brush 60 with the Shape Dynamics turned on and Angle Jitter set to 19% in the Brush Panel. The jitter creates a little different angle for each stroke so the strokes do not look so uniform in the image. On the layer mask I just dabbed with short strokes to keep some of the rather scratchy effect from the texture on the flower. By using a lower brush opacity, 30% or less, or changing the size of the brush, you can go over certain areas to get just the right amount of the image being hidden. And if you go too far, just press the X key to switch the paint color to white and paint back areas that don’t look correct. If you are not quite sure you like the effect of this brush, try some of the other brushes Photoshop offers – Spatter 59 gives a slightly different effect with the Angle Jitter turned on. If you like a brush you created, save it down as a New Brush Preset by clicking on the pop-out in either the Brush Panel or the Brush Preset Panel. When I really like a brush, I also save it as a Tool Preset by clicking on the little arrow next to the brush icon in the far left of the Options Bar and click on the bottom icon, New Tool Preset. This is where I keep my Chalk Brush – always have it available.
NOTE: A couple little things to know about the Brush Panel. You need to click on the words of the individual brush section to get it to open up – if you just check the section on the left side, it applies whatever settings are there without your seeing them. One thing I noticed, if you set the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter to 19%, this setting is sticky (does not change until you make a change to it) if using the same type of brush tip – it will always appear at this amount in the Shape Dynamics section until you change it. The Chalk and Spatter brushes are use the same Brush Tip so the setting sticks. But if you switch to a different Brush Tip, like an Airbrush for example, the Angle Jitter amount changes. It is recommended that you lock the setting in a section when creating new brushes if you like the setting so it does not change when trying out different brushes. Any unlocked attributes revert to those with which the original Photoshop brush tip was created. I do not lock my brush settings once save it down as a preset. Whew! Brushes in Photoshop can be confusing!
3. Used the same brush to add paint on a New Layer above the texture layer to add a few different colors (light pinks and blues). Also used Fay Sirtis’ Water Impressionist Blender Brush #1 Mixer Brush. Fay is both a Corel Painter Master and a Photoshop painting guru – if you were a NAPP member, and now are a Kelby One member, her fabulous painting brushes are all downloadable for free from her webinars and videos posted on-line at the site.
4. Now to add some texture back into the area where the layer mask removed it. The same texture layer was duplicated (CTRL+J) and placed at the top of the layer stack with the layer mask deleted. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between the layers) and with the Colorize button checked, Hue was set to 282, Saturation slider was set to 21, and Lightness -37. (I just discovered that with Colorize checked, the Saturation slider only goes from 0 to 100 so a setting of 21 is not that saturated in this case.) This added a slight pinkish cast to the whole texture. The texture layer was then set to Hard Light blend mode at 28% layer opacity – this adds the stroke texture over the flower and just added a little pinkish color. Basically I just experimented until I got a look I liked.
5. On a New Layer on top, French Kiss Spatter2_13 brush was used to add a little more localized texture to the image in different colors. These were added at a very low opacity.
6. The last step was to walk away until the next day (learned this from Aaron Nace) and realized I needed a little more color pop so a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added. The Reds were adjusted so more pink was showing up in the upper right , Whites cyan was adjusted toward red, and Blacks cyan, yellow and black sliders were adjusted. Since this was over the top, the layer mask was filled with black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the areas I wanted to look a brighter were painted back. You have to be careful when messing with the Whites and Blacks Colors in this adjustment layer as they can really ruin an image if too much is applied. That was it. I really like the resulting colors!
******This image used even fewer steps with a different texture – just painted out parts of the flower with the Chalk Brush. I did not think it needed texture added above the flower in this case. The beautiful white texture is from French Kiss’s Tableaux collection and called CremeFraiche, another one of my favorite texture sites. Next a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and only the Reds and Yellows were adjusted to darken the red in the front flower and greens in the leaves. The layer mask was filled with black and just a little bit of localized color was painted back with a white low opacity chalk brush I created. The last step involved adding Nik Analog Efex Pro using just a few filters – Basic Adjustments was checked with the Detail Extraction set to 74%; Light Leaks was added over the red flowers using the first light leak in the Dynamic category and set to 52% Strength – this gives the lovely light pink in the texture; Lens Vignette was added to just whiten the image edges; and Levels & Curves – what I like to manipulate is the Luminosity Channel, just dragged it up a little and the RGB Channel down a little all set to 100% opacity. I believe the Luminosity curve is what makes me like this plug-in so much! Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer in Photoshop. This was a very simple process, but the image is so much prettier than the original with the distracting background.
I am still learning to paint in Photoshop, but I feel like I can count on getting a pretty nice painterly look with just these few steps. The bottom line is that you should just make a couple of brushes that you like (and as noted above, be sure to save them as a brush and a tool preset if you really like them). Just start building up paint on separate layers or removing texture with layer masks at very low opacities, and maybe higher if you like the effect. With a few adjustment layer tweaks and blend mode changes, a very interesting image can be achieved out of one that looked rather ordinary. ….Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Trying Out Some Aaron Nace Techniques
A Few Painterly Tricks!
How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush
Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures
Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes