Painting a photograph

show more Painting a photograph provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS5 Top 5 show less
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Painting a photograph

In my final video, I am going to show you Photoshop CS5's most ambitious innovation: the new Painting tools. We have the Bristle Brushes, which simulate real-world traditional art brushes, down to the quantity and stiffness of the hairs. We have the Mixer Brush, which lets you mix your paint with a base photograph as if the photo were rendered in wet oils. Now, a lot of you are going to look at this and think 'I am a photographer. I don't do painting.' Of course, I urge you not to think that way. It just limits your creative freedom.

But there is some truth to it. The painting tools respond very positively to a pressure sensitive input device, such as this Wacom Intuos4 and a little bit of raw talent. Still, you've got to dig the results. In a next few minutes, I am going to transform a photograph into a hand-painted piece of art, complete with brush strokes that look like you could reach out and touch them. For you artists, here is the key. Each and every brush stroke draws its color from the image itself, so there is no need to mix a pigment or dip a brush.

It's absolutely amazing. Photoshop CS5 introduces two big new painting features: We've got the Bristle Brushes, which simulate traditional paintbrushes, and we also have the Mixing Brush, which allows you to mix colors inside of an existing image. Now, while I can imagine most graphic artists are listening to this thinking, 'Great! This sounds like outstanding news,' Many of you photographers may be groaning, thinking, 'There goes Photoshop again, focusing on the graphic artists instead of us,' which is actually not the case.

I was a little concerned about that as well. When I first saw Adobe demonstrate CS5, I saw these brushing functions and thought that they might be of limited interest. But having now used them myself, I am convinced that anyone who spends any time brushing inside of Photoshop, whether you use, for example, the Brush tool inside of your layer masks, or you use the Clone Stamp tool in order to retouch your images, or you use the History Brush to go back in time all the way down to the Dodge, Burn and Sponge tools, those of you who use those tools, even on a semiregular basis, are going to find the Bristle Brushes to be extremely useful, especially if you have a drawing tablet.

The Mixing Brush is just flat-out on real. What I am going to do here to demonstrate these features, I am going to take this photograph of a friend of mine that I shot in Amsterdam, and I am going to convert her into a full-fledged painting, which I am going to create using the Mixing Brush combined with the Bristle Brushes and a few special layer effects as well. So I can add a little bit of depth to these brush strokes. Nothing that you see here is the result of one of those artistic filters. So I didn't apply any special Artsy Filtering Effects with the exception of Emboss, which I used to create a few highlights and shadows around the brush strokes.

All right. So I'll go ahead and switch back to the original image here. Why don't I tour you around the tool, so you just have a sense of what's going on. I am going to select the Brush tool, which I can get by pressing the B key. You know what? I should show you this. There is a Brush tool there and then, down here at the bottom of the flyout menu, there is the Mixer Brush tool. In between, we have the Pencil tool and the Color Replacement tool. Well, I tell you what, I never use that Color Replacement tool and rarely used the Pencil tool. So I am going to take those two tools out of the loop. So I can use the B key just to switch back and forth between the Brush and the Mixer Brush.

I am going to do that by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Keyboard Shortcuts. Then I'll switch Shortcuts For to tools. I'll scroll down the list until I see this group of B's. I'll go ahead and select the Pencil tool and delete that B and the B for the Color Replacement tool and delete it as well. That's it. Click out to just make sure everything's been accepted. Then click on OK in order to apply that modification. Now, notice if I bring up the flyout menu, B takes me back and forth between the Brush tool and the Mixer Brush. Perfect! All right. So I have the Brush tool selected.

I am going to go up to the Options bar and click on this little folder right there to bring up the Brush panel. Notice this group of Brush Tips right there. Those are the ten basic varieties of Bristle Brushes. I'll go ahead and select this second Bristle Brush in. Notice you can select from ten different shapes altogether. You also have a lot of other different options that are available to you here. You can change how many bristles are packed into your brush, if you like. So if you pay attention to the brush preview down here at the bottom of the Brush panel, you'll see what a brush stroke looks like as I increase the number of bristles.

You can also check out this preview that, by default, is located in the upper left-hand corner of the Image window. It's a floating preview, by the way. Notice as I add bristles, you can see the thickness of the bristles increase inside of that brush. All right. I am going to take it back down. That's the way they all work, by the way. That is to say you can preview the effect of every single one of these settings. So I definitely encourage you to play around with those. For now, I am going to just close out of the Brush panel, so that I could focus my attention on this guy here, the new brush preview.

I should say I am working with a pressure-sensitive input device. This happens to be a Wacom Intuos4. Notice when I move my cursor nearer to my tablet, I can actually see the angle of my pen represented by that brush up there in the upper left-hand corner. So as I move the stylus around, the brush moves around as well. So this way right there, I've got the style straight up and down, and now, I am going to move it over onto its side. You can see it happened right there inside of the preview.

You can also see the effect on the cursor, if you take a look at that cursor, which is next to this model's ear right now. All right. A couple of other things to know about this preview: If you move over it, you can drag it to a different location by dragging this little bar. You can also click on the double arrow to make it smaller. You can click again to make it bigger. You can close the preview if it's getting in your face, and if you want to bring it back at any point of time, bring up the Brush panel once again, which, by the way, has a keyboard shortcut of F5, and then drop down to this little eye icon, the eye next to the Brush, and click on it to bring that Bristle Brush preview. All right.

I am going to move it back to the upper-left corner there, so that we can keep tabs on it. So that's the basics of working with the Bristle Brush. Let's now take a look at the new painting tool, which is this guy right there, the Mixer Brush. I am going to go ahead and select that tool. Notice, by the way, I've got a Standard Brush selected, as opposed to a Bristle Brush. So to correct that problem, I could right-click in order to bring up a pop-up version of that Brush panel, and I'll switch to the second one, Round Blunt Medium Stiff, which happens to work pretty well for this image. I am also going to reduce the size of my brush to something very small.

I am going to set it to 3 pixels for now. Because this is a portrait shot, I need an awful lot of detail inside of this image. All right. So I'll go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to hide that panel. The next thing I want to do is I want to add a layer. Obviously, you don't want to paint directly on an image layer, if you can avoid it, because that's a destructive modification. So I'll press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+ Shift+N on the Mac, and I'll call this new layer paint and click OK. The next thing I definitely need to do if I want to get any work done with this Mixer Brush is I need to turn on Sample All layers, so that the Mixer Brush can see the results of all layers at a time.

That will allow it to paint the background layer onto the paint layer, which is very important, of course. Now the way that this tool works: If I just start painting in, notice like this, and I have some very small brush strokes going, it's going to try to mix black, which is my current painting color with the colors inside of the image, and as a result, I am going to create this kind of scraping effect. That's not what I'm looking for at all. I just want to paint with the colors that I find inside the image. So I want to make sure, by the way, that I clean the brush after every stroke.

So that option is turned on, by default. Now, I also want turn off this first option. Notice that it says, Load the brush after each stroke. That's going to reload the brush with either the foreground color or the last painted color. I don't want to do that. I want to mix the color as I go. So I'll go ahead and turn that option off. Notice that goes ahead and sets the color to transparent over here in the Options bar. I am also going to max out all the other values. So I am going to set Wet to 100, Load to 100, Mix to 100 as well. In case you are wondering how I am doing that, I am scrubbing each one of these values to the right in order to increase them to their maximum, and we are now ready to paint.

So I am going to zoom in, and I am going to pick up my Wacom Stylus, and I'll begin to paint. I am painting very fine lines, at this point, around the exterior of the nose here. I think, actually I might benefit from a slightly larger brush. So you know what? All I need to do in order to increase the size of this brush is just press the Right Bracket key a few times here on the keyboard, so I can increase the size of our Bristle Brush just as easily as I can increase the size of any brush inside Photoshop.

Now, we are going to go ahead and speed up the video as you can see, here. It took me about 20 minutes to paint this image, and we are going to condense it into just a little bit over a minute, because I want to see the painting unfold. On the other hand, I don't want you to have to experience it real-time. Now, notice what I am doing is pretty rote technique over and over again. I am painting very carefully along the outlines of specific details. Then when I get into general areas, I paint a kind of scribble crosshatch patterns.

So if you are familiar with crosshatching where you go either against or with the grain of your subject, that's what I am doing here. You can see now that I am painting inside the volumetric contours of the ears, and I'm also painting fairly, roughly in the background. You can see I am painting very roughly inside of that sweater detail. Sometime, I'll scribble over an area that I've already painted in order to add a little bit more of a crosshatch contour. When I get to the earing here, I am painting extremely carefully along the outlines and then carefully along the chin.

You just saw that, and the scribbling inside the general contours of the skin. Now, I am scribbling over a few details that I've visited before. In the case of the sweater, once again, painting carefully along the chin outline. Then scribbling inside the large general areas. Sometimes, revisiting areas in order to accentuate the volumetric forms. Then here in a background I am going at it pretty rough. There is not a lot of detail to work with back there. Then I revisit some of the general areas of the cheeks and the face in order to smooth out the surface of the skin.

Now, that I've finished with the base paint layer, I am going to add a few additional layers in order to enhance the effect. For example, if you take a look at the left side of the image, you'll see these hairs. I think the overall image would benefit from a more realistic treatment that sees a few individual hairs hanging down as in the original photograph. So here is what I am going to do. I am going to switch over to the Standard Brush tool, and now, I am going to select the color that's indigenous to the image. Now, there is a couple of different ways to go about selecting colors using Heads Up displays inside of Photoshop CS5. One is, on the Mac, you can press Command+Option+Control and then click and hold in the image.

On the PC, you press a totally different keyboard shortcut. You press Shift+Alt and you right-click inside the image. Then you choose a base Hue from this rainbow slider over here in right-hand side, and you switch back into the field in order to determine the level of Saturation side to side and the Brightness up and down. So that's one way to work. The other thing you can do, and when you are trying to lift colors from an image, this is a better way to work, you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac to get the key Eyedropper tool.

This is an old-school technique, but it has a new interface. If you click and hold inside of the image, you'll see a Heads Up display showing the old foreground color down at the bottom of the circle and the new foreground color at the top. You can drag around inside the image in order to switch that foreground color on-the-fly. I am going to go ahead and lift a very dark sort of purplish color from the hair. Now, I'll reduce the size of my cursor. I'll do that by pressing the Left Bracket key several times in a row. I am going to take that cursor size all the way down to 1 pixel and then I am going to paint in a few hairs.

But in order to paint them in fairly, realistically, I need to be able to see those hairs in the background image. So I'll turn off the paint layer, and I'll add a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac. I'll call it hair, like so. Click OK. Now, I can start painting directly inside of this layer. I'll paint a long hair, like so and then another hair that goes all the way over the ears. It doesn't really matter how many hairs I paint. I just want to get a realistic feel to this image, like so.

So now you might look at these hairs and say well, this doesn't my idea of realistic Deke. These are awfully thick gooey hairs. They look like lines of paints more than anything else. Well, I am going to solve that in just a moment with the use of a Filter. So having added a few base hairs with which to work, like so, I'll go up to the Filter menu, and I'll choose the Other command, and I'll choose this guy right there, Maximum. What that does is it squeezes a transparency mask into the hair. Notice that it does a heck of job.

It leaves us with some very fragile hairs indeed at a radius value of one pixel, which a lowest you can go. Now, I'll click OK in order do except those hairs. I'll turn on the paint layer once again, so that I can see both of the layers together. Now, what we are going to do is we are going to emboss the paint, so that it has a little bit of dimension associated with it. So I'll merge all the layers I have created so far onto a new layer by mashing my fist down and pressing the E key. You know this keyboard shortcut. It's Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E on a PC or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac.

I'll call this new layer merged because that's what it is. Then I am going to convert this layer to a Smart Object by going up to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object. That goes ahead and places the image inside of a protective container, so that I can apply a Smart Filter in the form of, up here under the Filter menu, I'll chose Stylize, and I'll choose Emboss. These settings are going to work out very nicely for this image. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to apply the Filter. Then I'll right-click inside of this Filter mask and choose Delete Filter Mask to get rid of it. All right.

Now I have a nondestructive application of Emboss on this merged layer. The problem is that Emboss goes ahead and add some color to the image. You notice it flattens out most of the color, but it does leave some aberrant colors in its wake. To get rid of those bad colors, I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and I'll click and hold on this black-white icon at the bottom of Layers panel, and I'll choose Hue/Saturation. That'll bring up the New Layer dialog box. I am going to go ahead and call this new layer desaturate and turn on this check box in order to only affect the merged layer and nothing more.

I'll click OK, and I'll take the Saturation value down, here inside the Adjustments panel, to -100. All right. The next step is to switch back to the merged layer, make it active and change the Blend mode for that layer from Normal to Overlay. That goes ahead and drops out the grays, but it preserves the dark and light luminance levels, which turned into highlights and shadows along the edges of my painting. I'll go ahead and scroll over here a little bit, so that you can see the face inside of the image. I'll also switch to a different tool, so then I hide that Bristle Brush preview.

Now, just so that you have a sense of the contribution of this layer. I'll go ahead and turn merged off. So that's the painting without the Emboss effect. This is the painting with the Emboss effect. So it makes a pretty big difference in the overall composition. Now, I want to increase the overall Vibrance of the colors. I am going to do that using Brightness/Contrast, of all things. It just happens to work out really well for this image. So I'll click on desaturate to make it active. Then I'll drop down to this black-white icon again. I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key, click on that icon, and choose Brightness/Contrast.

I'll go ahead and name this layer B/C, and I will check that Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask is turned off. Because this time, I want to affect the entire composition at once. I'll go ahead and change the Brightness value to 20 and the Contrast value to 40. The reason I'm using this command instead of say Levels is because it does a better job in the case of this image, or Curves because it's a heck of a lot simpler to use. It does just as good of a job, as long as Use Legacy is turned off.

So I'll go ahead and hide the Adjustment panel now. Now, let's take a look at the appearance of our final composition. I'll go ahead and press Shift+F in order to switch to the full screen mode. Now, so that we can compare this image to the original, I'll press the F12 key in order to revert the image to its original appearance. So this is the original photograph that I shot in Amsterdam. This is that paining that I just created before you and this, just for the sake of comparison, is the paining that I showed you at the outset of this video.

So every single time you paint inside Photoshop, you are going to achieve a different effect. These, my friends, are a couple of examples of the kinds of effects that you can achieve using the new Bristle Brushes and the Mixer Brush here inside Photoshop CS5.

Painting a photograph
Video duration: 17m 36s 1h 9m Intermediate


Painting a photograph provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS5 Top 5

Design Photography
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