Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How I Alter a Painting in Photoshop

Recently I have returned to painting. I started by reworking some old painted and collaged cards I did years and years ago. These were simple cards,  and I went abstract expressionist on them! Since I started those, I have also done a couple of new small paintings.

But, sometimes painting isn’t enough. I like to play around with images digitally. I scanned the paintings into my computer and created something new by manipulating the images in Photoshop. I’m going to share what I do with you.

Now, I’m using an older version of Photoshop (CS, I think). If you don’t have Photoshop, use whatever image editing program you have. I understand that many of them have filters and you can play around with the images. The most important rule is don’t be afraid to experiment. Just have fun and go wild. If it doesn’t turn out, you can always back-track or start over. Often, it looks great! I find myself saving variations of the same image because I like the different things that are happening to it.

So, let’s get started. First off, you have to scan in your image. Take a small painting or collage and scan it. I save my scans at the highest level, with 300dpi. I save in both JPG and PNG formats. The image I’m using is a painting in progress. I decided that the background I had painted could be turned into something more interesting digitally.

Take your image and create a couple of copy layers. In Photoshop, pressing Ctrl-J (or Command-J) will do this quickly. Say you have five layers, with layer 1 being the original scan. Leave the Background layer at the bottom. Start on Layer 1, deactivating the other layers so you can see what’s going on.

So, I went under Filters> Artistic> Dry Brush. Not much of a change. I then went to the layers and changed the layer to Color Dodge. It brightened the image up a good bit. (Image 2)

I am now on Layer 1 Copy. I love to use Filters> Artistic> Poster Edges. I don’t know why I like this one so much.  I  then changed the layer to Overlay and put the opacity to 85%. (Image 3)

With those two as a foundation, I’ve decided it’s time to just go nuts. On Layer 1 Copy 2 I went with Filter> Distort> Polar Coordinates. I then applied Filter> Brush Strokes> Accented Edges. I left the Layer as Normal, but reduced the opacity to 67% so what I had done previously could show through. (Image 4)

Now, on Layer 1 Copy 3 (the top layer), I got an interesting effect just by setting the Layer to Hue. I think I’ll leave it like this. (Image 5)

Now, don’t be afraid to play with it some more. I’ve gone back to Layer 1 Copy. Another filter I like is Filter> Other> Maximum. This added to the piece, but the effect is subtle. (Image 6) I’m going to go down to Layer 1 now. I applied a few filters, but nothing really did anything for this piece, so I undid them, and I think this piece is done.

That said, there is more I could do. Don’t be afraid to go online and find tutorials for whatever program you use. Look at the tutorials that interest you and follow along. You will learn new techniques. Make sure you can find the tutorial again too when you want to use it. Keep an eye out on the bargain department of your local bookstore. Sometimes you can find older How To books for various imaging programs. These can be helpful too. I still refer to a book that’s for a version of Photoshop that’s older than the one I use.

I use Photoshop, so what I wrote is based on that program. If you try to follow along with what I did, using one of your images, the filters I used might be different in newer versions of Photoshop. If you use another imaging program, you might have some different filters. Whatever program you use, and however you decide to go about working with your images digitally, I encourage you to play and experiment! Have fun with what you’re doing!