How to Create an Oil Paint Effect in Photoshop
Creating an oil paint effect
Many of the filter effects in Photoshop seem to have a bit of a wild effect and don't necessarily reflect the sort of artistic adjustment that you might want to apply to an image. But in my mind the Oil Paint filter is a little bit different. It applies a very interesting texture that I find. Can work very, very nicely for certain images. Generally speaking, I find that the Oil Paint Filter is best used used for images that are relatively small. In other words, it's better for images that will be displayed on a computer display or on a mobile device, rather than an image that will be printed at a large size.
I also find that this filter works best with images that have a relatively large key subject, and a good amount of areas of relatively smooth texture. I think this image is a pretty good candidate. So, I'll make a copy of the Background Image layer, by dragging the thumbnail, for that layer, to the Create New Layer button, at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then I can go to the Filter menu, and choose Oil Paint. This will bring up the oil paint dialog and you can see, I already have a bit of a painterly effect applied to the image based on the default settings.
Let's take a look at those settings. We'll start off with stylization. In essence, I think of this as a detail versus no detail type of effect. If you move stylization over to the left, we're going to have a high degree of fine detail. Now, that doesn't necessarily mimic the exact detail in the photo, it just means that the overall effect is happening at a smaller scale. If I increase the value for stylization, you'll see that we get a little bit more smooth, sweeping lines throughout the photo. In most cases, although certainly not for every image, I tend to prefer a relatively high value for stylization. The cleanliness effect is somewhat similar in that it effects the overall detail in a photo.
If I increase the value for cleanliness, then you'll see that the gaps between the strokes are a little bit larger, and we get a little bit smoother transitions among those lines. A lower cleanliness option by contrast, gives us finer detail, and the lines tend to be just a little bit more abrupt. For this photo I think a little bit higher cleanliness value will work out nicely. We can also adjust the scale, and this is the scale of the overall effect in the image. You'll see that if I increase the value, then suddenly those brush strokes get considerably larger. And reducing the value, those strokes get a little bit smaller. For this image, I think the sweeping lines are exaggerated just a little bit with a smaller scale.
So, I'll keep that Scale setting at a relatively low value. And that is my tendency in most cases, is to use a relatively low scale setting. We can also adjust the overall bristle detail, in other words, how much fine detail do we see for each individual little brush stroke. I'll go ahead and zoom in so that we can see a little bit better. The bristle detail setting is at its maximum value of ten right now, and as I reduce that value, you'll see that the image gets smoothed out a little bit. We're not seeing quite as much texture in the individual brush strokes.
I'll go ahead and leave the image zoomed in, as we take a look at the lighting setting. This determines the degree of shine. In other words are we trying to produce an effect where those oils paints are really shiny or where we have a little bit more matte appearance in the image. I'll increase the value for shine significantly just so that we can see the effect a little bit better and then I'll adjust the angular direction. And this determines which direction the light appears to be coming from. And so you can fine tune this based on which particular details you want to accentuate in the image.
For example, if I have the setting set to a value, right around here, about 23 degrees, you'll see, that the main tulip, over on the left, has some very high contrast lines to it. Whereas, if I rotate that lighting, so that the light is coming from a different direction, we're not seeing anywhere near as much of that texture. I'll go ahead and zoom out, so that we can see the over all image a little bit better. Obviously the lighting is still a little bit exaggerated but once again, I'll adjust that direction so that you can see how it really impacts the perceived detail within the photo. I'll go ahead and leave angular direction at a setting that gives us a reasonably high degree of contrast, but then I'll tone down the shine just a little bit so it's not quite so exaggerated and I think that's looking pretty cool. I really do like the effect of this Oil Paint Filter for sure. It's not for every photographer and it's not for every image but it can be a really nice creative effect for a variety of images and of course you have a good degree of flexibility in terms of how you apply the effect. This is looking good to me, though, so I think I'll go ahead and click the OK button in order to finalize the effect.
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