Turning Photos Into Paintings Using Photoshop

It looks like this week is turning into a graphic design-focused one, huh? In case you missed Monday's post, I shared some pretty cute desktop and iPhone wallpapers for the month of February. You can check those out here!

Today I wanted to share a nifty little trick on how to turn your photographs into painterly-like works of art. It's no secret that that look is popular right now. A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this post from The Painted Hive that listed several ways to do just that to your photos. The results she showed were so neat that I decided to try my hand at one of the methods myself. I used Photoshop, which I know not everyone has access to, but if you DO, stop what you're doing right now and go play with some of your photos. It's kind of addicting once you get the hang of it. Read on to see how I gave that farm truck its painterly look.

In Photoshop, under the menu bar titled "Filter" there's an option called "Filter Gallery" that houses all kinds of effects that you can add to photos (most of them are terrible, FYI - yikes!). I tried all of them and my favorite, by far, to get the look I was going for was one called "Palette Knife."

For the tutorial, I'm going to use this landscape photo I took on our trip to Napa Valley a couple of summers ago. It was so beautiful there! Here's the original after I pulled it into Photoshop:

Then I pulled up the Filter Gallery and selected the Palette Knife filter. On the right side, there are three sliders that you can adjust to change the look of the filter. For the photo below, I chose 50 for the stroke size, 3 for the stroke detail and 0 for the softness.

After clicking OK, Photoshop took me back to the normal window with the new filter applied. I played around with the saturation to make the colors deeper and more exaggerated to add to the painterly effect. I love to use the Pioneer Woman's Photoshop actions for this. They're a free download and I use them all the time in my regular photo editing. For this photo, I used "boost" at 50% opacity.

That's it! Photoshop does most of the work for you and you can adjust the settings however you want to get the look you're going for. Here's a side-by-side before and after of the Napa Valley shot above so you can see the difference:

Pretty cool huh? Here are a couple more examples from some other photos - all using the same technique...

The old farm truck (this one might be my fave!):

And some lovely tomatoes from the farmer's market. Can you believe all those colors?

I'm no Photoshop pro, but I had a blast using it to turn these photos into paintings. I'd love to have a few of them printed out on canvases. If you find a good deal on those, this would be an inexpensive way to add some beautiful (and personal!) art to your home.

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  1. I just love this idea. I've taken so many photographs I would have liked to paint had I had enough time. This is a great way to create some great "art"!

    1. Thanks so much! I had fun with this one and figured others might enjoy it too! I'd like to try my hand at 'real' painting some day, but I think I'd need a few lessons first!

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