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Creating Painterly Effects

Turn a Photo into a Painting

Make a Photo look like a Painting by…

…Applying artistic filters in Photoshop to create hand-painted effects.

In Photoshop, go to File > Open... and select a photo from your computer. Choose a photo of a landscape or a still life to get the best results.

Convert layer to smart object

Locate the Layers panel at the lower-right corner of your workspace. If you don't see it, go to Window > Layers. Right-click the "Background" layer and select Convert to Smart Object.

Converting to a Smart Object allows you to go back and edit the artistic filter that you will apply in the next step. This is called a "nondestructive edit" because it preserves the original photo, even after applying effects.

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery...

Apply the Dry Brush filter

Select the Dry Brush filter from the Artistic folder, to the right of the photo preview.

On the right of the window are the filter options. Set the Brush Size to 7, the Brush Detail to 9, and the Texture to 1.

When you're done, click OK.

Intensify the colors

Locate the Adjustments panel above the Layer panel to the right of the workspace. If you can't see it, go to Window > Adjustments.

Click the Hue/Saturation adjustment in the second row of icons.

In the Properties panel that appears, use the Saturation slider to set the saturation to +65. This increases the intensity of the colors in the photo, emphasizing a painterly look. When you're done, click the Properties tab title at the upper-left of the panel to close it.


The result of applying just two effects is a bright, stylized image that has a hand-painted appearance.

This is so quick and easy, in just a few simple steps you can create a masterpiece. I hope you'll have as much fun as I'm having transforming images into "Art!"

Try this technique on lots different photos and experiment with other filters from the Filter Gallery. Apply the Rough Pastels filter on a photo with a large area of colors to create a textured effect, or use the Colored Pencil filter to turn a portrait into a sketch image.

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