photoshop creative

Get the oil-pastel look in 14 steps

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 26, 2014

Transform photos into an atmospheric oil-pastel artwork with brushes and blur techniques

1. Adjust the colours

Create three adjustment layers. For the first choose Selective colour and increase the Blacks and Neutrals to darken the image. Now choose Hue/Saturation and increase the Saturation while decreasing the Lightness. Finally choose Gradient Map and apply a dark gradient, setting the blend mode to Overlay and reducing the Opacity.

2. Create a new sky

Drag a sunset image onto the painting. Set blend mode to Multiply, add a layer mask and erase unwanted areas. Brush in or add some cloud images. Merge and duplicate all layers with Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+E.

3. Rainy effect

Working on the merged duplicate layer, create the effect of the rain by using Filter>Blur>Shape Blur. Use the tick shape with a Radius of 102. After that, create a layer mask to erase the effect from foreground areas by using a round brush with its mode set to Darken at 60% Opacity.

4. Dry Brush

The Dry Brush filter will help you to establish your painting to give it an artistic look. Go to Filter>Filter Gallery and then select Artistic>Dry Brush. Change the Brush Size to 4, Brush Details to 4 and Texture to 2.

5. Main palette

Select some colours, then select the Mixer Brush. You can use a custom paint-style brush for this; set settings to Wet: 37%, Load: 21%, Mix: 35%, Flow: 25% and deselect Sample All Layers.

6. Populating the scene

This step is very simple: sketch people with umbrellas with the Pen tool, then use another layer to colour them with a Round Angle brush at 15-20px. Activate Texture in Brush Presets at Scale: 50%, Mode: Highlight, Depth: 53%, Control: Pen Pressure. Drag the people into the painting. This is only an optional step though for if you’re feeling creative!

7. Get the pastel look

Each step from now until Step 12 will begin by creating a new merged duplicate layer with Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E and using the Mixer Brush set to Round Angle between 15-30px in size. Set the brush to Wet 22%, Load: 50%, Mix: 45%, Flow 100% and activate Sample All Layers. Also activate Texture in Brush Presets, set to Scale: 50%, Mode: Highlight, Depth: 53%, Control: Pen Pressure.

8. Paint the cars

Start in the same way as Step 7 and paint over the cars with the Mixer Brush set to between 10-30px in size using the same settings as before. Use back-and-forth strokes to mix up colour and create messier lines.

9. Create natural light

Add a couple of new layers – one for each main light source – and set the blend mode to Screen. Take a round soft brush and set it to Lighten. Eyedrop light colours from the sky and streetlights and paint in the direction of light as shown.

10. Reflection on the floor

Create a new layer for the pavement. Use the Mixer Brush, this time set to use a Flat Angle brush, with a Darken blend mode and then paint in rough little horizontal brushstrokes. Duplicate the layer twice and set to Screen and Lighten respectively. Boost the saturation with Selective Colour and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers.

11. Smudge tool

Merge all layers by using Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E. Then select the Smudge tool with Strength between 20-50%, using the Flat Angle Left Hand Pose brush at 57px. After that go to Brush Presets and activate Scattering. This tool will enable us to smooth out the little strokes to create a natural reflection on the pavement.

12. Add more details

This step is similar to Step 10, but more details will be added to the edges. Add a new layer and change the blend mode to Screen. Set the Mixer Brush to a Round Angle brush between 7-15px and work in little details. Boost colour with a Selective Colour adjustment layer.

13. Add rain

Create a new layer, then use the a rai-style brush or just a scattered, lengthily-stroked brush, Opacity 78%. Duplicate this layer and change the blend mode to Overlay at 100% Opacity. THen duplicate it one more time for extra effect.

14. Final touch

For the final step it’s a good idea to use Sharpen to create a texture, and colour adjustments to enhance the colours and make the painting more attractive. Merge all layers and run Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen More over the duplicate layer and set it to 43% Opacity.