Just a refresher blog on what to do if you want to do a quick little painting of a photo you have. This cute downloaded image is by Traci Stewart at Unsplash. It was actually a great one to practice on to try out some different painterly brushes. It takes a bit of planning and time to get a good result – not unlike painting a drawn image. What is a good way to start painting a favorite photo as many people really want painted images of their children, grandchildren or pets? Photoshop makes it pretty easy to get some great results without using their filters.
The obvious way to do this is just to use New Layers when changing colors or brushes and name the layers (with the object or brush name if changing to different ones for different areas) so you know what was done. I did a blog a while back on how to use the PS Mixer brushes with several links for more info – see A Little Digital Painting in Photoshop and New Photoshop Brushes! blog – contains give very painterly results. Another thing to check is the size of the image if it is not your photo. Go to Image -> Image Size and check out what the resolution is set to and how the large the image is. If it is set to 72 dpi, uncheck Resample and change the amount to something more reasonable like 240 or 300, especially if printing. Then recheck Resample and the size of the file should be much more manageable.
There are a few PS people that do teach digital painting on photos and I have written about them in the past. Below are my recommended resources for learning this technique.
- Check out some videos by Lisa Carney, the famous poster retoucher. She did a course in 2017 at Creative Live called Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC – a few things are slightly out-of-date or PS has added some new features not covered (like using the ~ key to erase instead of the Brush Mode called Clear – they do the same thing and the ~ key is so much faster). But overall she does an excellent job of showing how to use the different media types of PS brushes to paint in PS and what the various brush settings do. It is not as thorough as Kyle T. Webster’s Adobe Creative Cloud YouTube videos, but Lisa’s are a great place to start if you are interested in trying out different brush types for painting. Currently her class is on sale for $24 – Creative Live runs sales frequently and this class has 22 not too long videos which are downloadable when bought. The best part of this class is the accompanying 92-page PDF which I have found really helpful. Covers all the information she covers and more. The child image used her class information.
- There is a photographer/painter called Lori Jill that did some really nice painting classes at Udemy. Her course called Turn Photographs into Digital Paintings is an excellent course (although it is from 2014 I think), and is often on sale for a very inexpensive amount (right now it is about $12). I really enjoyed her teaching style and the class contains resources where she teaches you how to use them (an action, brushes, and several images). The Victorian House image below used Lori’s techniques. She also has a class on “Digital Pet Paintings using Photoshop” and “Digital Painting Pinup Portraits from a Photograph” which are also really fun to do. I might add that Udemy has several other digital painting classes you might want to check out. Unfortunately you cannot download the videos, but they will always be available to you when logged in.
- I would be remiss if I did not include the fabulous Adobe Guru Jack Davis and all he has done for the artistic flavor of PS alone. I have written several blogs on his Creative Live videos, which are now rather old but still relevant – an older Adobe Max YouTube video covers a lot of what is in the course. The last image below was from a previous blog. His Creative Live course is called Painting with Adobe Photoshop and is usually offered at a really reasonable amount. ($24 as of today) It contains 40 videos (all are downloadable and almost 16-hours of teaching) covering all the PS and LR (ACR) tools for painting. The biggest problem is that his action and presets can no longer be downloaded from his Facebook page. The presets were all the same as those in is Wow! books – nothing updated for this. I think the action is the same one Dr. Russell Brown of Adobe fame created with his Watercolor Panel for CS6. I hope that Creative Live will fix Jack’s link soon or include the info in his download. But even so, the videos are excellent and very entertaining.
Here are a few of the brushes used to get the child’s image effects. Some of these brushes were suggested by Lisa in her course 30-minute video called Impressionist Brush that show how this is done. The sky and tree background were painted on separate layers using Kyle’s Impressionist Brushes set – French Sharp Block brush. To download his brushes, go to the Brushes Panel’s top right pop-out menu and choose “Get More Brushes” – it takes you to the Creative Cloud login after which you can download hundreds of brushes. Just download to your computer, then go back to the same Panel menu and click Import to add them in or follow my next tip. A trick with .abr files (or most of PS files like Patterns, Swatches, Gradients, etc. which have unusual extensions) is that usually you can double-click them and they go into PS immediately. Watch out now that there is Fresco, it also uses these files and double-clicking them might open Fresco up if you just upgraded or used it. To stop it from doing this, in your Windows file folder right click on the .abr file and select Open With, then select Choose Another App and choose Adobe Photoshop 2022 and check Always use this app to open .abr files. Now it will always open PS when the brush file is double clicked.
For the grass Grut’s OI Stump Trough was used – it looks like grass and was perfect for this image. Grut Brushes are one of my favorite brush makers and he gives away a new brush every week so it is always fun to see what is coming up. Also Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Stamp Damp Paper was used in the background to get the slightly foggy effect and to make the background less noticeable. The baby’s skin was painted with Kyle’s Natural Edge Texture Stain and mixer was used to smooth it out a little (see David Belliveau free Mixer – it is the best). Both of the watercolor brushes were recommended by Lisa. The rabbit is from PixelSquid. The flowers were from Jessica Johnson at Creative Couture – she is the Pattern Stamp Brush guru. My favorite set from her is called the Romantic English Garden set and the flowers were created using her brush #35 and Pattern 25. You should check out her samples if you have never tried the Pattern Stamp Tool (it is housed with the Clone Stamp Tool). I painted the flower in and Viveza 2 was used to overall sharpen up the image. A Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added at the top using a turquoise color at 13% layer opacity to slightly soften the brightness of the image – it had seemed a bit overwhelming to me.
Here is an image created using Lori Jill’s course – this is one of my favorite painted photos. She has a similar style to Jack Davis’s techniques. I have painted many photos using her technique as the rather smooth effect is one I like.
The image below is one I did a while ago and shows some of Jack Davis’s techniques. His style is always very fun to use, but is a little less smooth than Lori’s technique.
I was surprised to find very little recent info out there of people who are teaching this. I will continue searching to find a few more current videos. Hope you check out a few of these painters who really do know how to use the PS brushes. Digital painting a photo is a great way to have some fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
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I found some good info in my old notes on the settings for Color Dynamics in the Brush Settings Panel. With so many sliders it is easy to be confused on how to use these settings when you want to just add another color to your brush for painting. In the image above, which was created in Corel Painter, a scatter brush was used on a separate layer in Photoshop using Kyle’s scatter brush below using blue colors. The Color Dynamics section is not available for all PS brushes, but is for the Regular Brushes, Pattern Stamp Brushes and Art History Brushes.
Back in 2014, Melissa Gallo, a Corel Master and great painter, created Painting with Photoshop Workshop with 26 videos. It contained all kinds of brushes, patterns, actions, etc., that covered everything needed to learn to paint in PS. It is still available on her site and worth getting if you are really interested in learning to paint with PS. One of the her videos has a very uncomplicated way of looking at the Color Dynamic sliders. The other major reference for this is from David Belliveau, who mainly draws portraits in Photoshop (he offers a free class a couple times a year which are excellent so look for this) and has some wonderful free PS brushes (scroll down the page to find them). He covered this topic in Brushmakers Blueprint, a video from 2016 which appears to be only available on his member site.
Below is a screen shot of the Color Dynamics Section as shown in PS. Be sure to click on the actual words “Color Dynamics” to open up the settings. If just the left side check mark is clicked, it does not open up.
Kyle’s Spatter Br-Pressure Control brush is in his Scatter Brushes group, one of the free sets that can be downloaded if you use PS. (To find these brushes, go to upper pop-out menu in the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes – the Scatter brushes can be downloaded from this page.) Note that this is an Airbrush as shown by the icon checked in the Options Bar – the longer you press on the brush, the more dense it gets. The original brush does not have Color Dynamics checked so all the brush strokes will appear in just one color. To get the colorful effect shown in my top image, the screenshot settings were used. After adding the settings, the brush was resaved (by clicking the “plus sign in a box” icon at the bottom of both the Brush Panel and Brush Setting Panel). In the New Brush dialog, rename the brush (I added my initials to it so I knew it has the new settings) and check “Capture Brush Size in Preset” and “Include Tool Settings.” Below are listed all the color settings and what they do. The word “Jitter” means change in the digital world according to Melissa.
Foreground/Background Jitter: When kept at 0, the colors will mix just fine but will have mostly Foreground color variations. If you move the slider right, more of the Background colors are picked up until the stroke shows more of the Background color variations. (This is when the Hue is set to 0 – move this slider and get a lot more color variations.) This setting is not so important if the Control field is set (see next paragraph). I tend to adjust this slider and not change the Control field when adding color to most of my brushes.
Control: In the above brush settings, Control is set to off as I liked the effect I was getting as is. By switching in the drop-down to Fade with Foreground/Background Jitter set to 0, it takes 25 steps (if that is the number chosen in this field) to go from the foreground color to the background color. If set to Pen Pressure, it lets you paint using foreground to background colors depending on how hard you press (when using a tablet & pen). Many people just use this and not change much else in the panel.
Apply Per Tip: Located at the top of the Brush Setting Panel, when turned on, the colors are all mixed according to the panel slider settings. With the Pen Pressure set in the Control field, press hard to get the foreground color and light to get background colors. If you turn this off, each time you make a stroke, the same color will appear. So all the scatter color might be pink with one stroke and red with another. Different way of laying down the color in the stroke. I find this a little hard to control.
Hue Jitter: This decides how many colors you get between the foreground and background colors. Want more, move slider right; want fewer, move slider left. Note that as you increase the slider, more colors will be added into the stroke with Apply Per Tip on. Set to 100%, all colors will be shown. The Hue Jitter above is set to 25% which means 25% will go from the foreground color to variations of the foreground color, and 25% will go from the background color to variations of the background color. Increase that amount to get more color variations.
Melissa says the next three settings work in tandem, meaning they work together.
Saturation Jitter: How much of a change do you want between Saturation and no saturation? Set to 50% means that 50% of 100% of the colors are saturated and will show some gray randomly placed. When Saturation is set to to 96%, 4% of the colors are saturated and 96% of the colors will be randomly grayed out. When Saturation is set to 0%, no colors are grayed out and are all equally saturated. The scatter brush is set to 40% so 40% of 100% means that 60% have some gray showing up. This seems a little complicated to me. Basically this means when set to 0%, PS is using the original saturation of the foreground and background colors for all color variations created, and when set to 100%, PS is adding in a lot of desaturation to the color variations.
Brightness Jitter: Set to 100% means the colors are very dark – the jitter goes from high to low randomly. The brush above shows a 54% change in brightness – pretty middle of the road between overly dark (100%) and overly bright (0%).
Purity: How pure the color is. I wondered what this meant and David says the slider is acting like Hue and Saturation. When set to -100%, it becomes a black and white stroke and when set to +100%, it is totally saturated. The brush above was set to -12 which causes it to be slightly darker overall. To get a black and white brush, set everything to 0 but Foreground/Background Jitter should have some setting to be able to see the variations, and set Purity to -100.
Here are some ways to set up these sliders:
- With some Hue added, set Brightness Jitter to 80% and Purity to 55% to get very bright strokes.
- Decrease Brightness Jitter to 15% and get a much lighter look.
- Adjust Purity to -45% to get more of a pastel look.
- For a nice pastel look set Brightness Jitter to 23% and Purity to -47%. To put some color in gray and others in pastel, set the Saturation to 100% (changes how many colors are completely grayed out and how many are in full color).
I figure you will not remember all these settings (I know I won’t), but maybe you can use this blog when you need a reference on the settings (that’s why I wrote it). Bottom line is to experiment with your brush and the different settings to get that perfect effect. Hopefully it will help you get the brush results you need. Hope everyone is having a great winter – so far not too bad!…..Digital Lady Syd
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