photoshop creative

Paint from photos in Elements

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
September 25, 2014

Learn to wield the Impressionist Brush!

1. Start a sketch

Open the start image in Elements and choose the Expert mode. Click the Brush icon and then Impressionist Brush. Go to Layer>Duplicate, and then do that a second time so that there are three layers in total. Click on the top layer and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. Set Radius to 2.3 and click OK.

2. Manage layers

Go to Filter>Adjustment>Threshold. The image will now turn into a sketch. You’ll need to go lower than you think with the Threshold – for some reason, once you click OK, the lines thicken. In this case, a setting of 115 works well. Time to forget about this layer for a while; click the eye icon to turn it off.

3. Pick a set

Click on the middle layer. This is where your painting will take place. Click the brush mark in the Impressionist Brush panel to pick your brush set. Use the arrow to see all the sets and then click Wet Media. Now pick a brush; for this piece, it’s Rough Ink.

4. Brush settings

In addition to picking a type of brush, you can set the type of stroke that it produces. Click Advanced and then select Tight Medium from the the Style drop-down. The higher the Tolerance, the more photographic the result, so we stick to 1% to keep the paint flowing.

5. Get ready to paint

Zoom into the sky a little bit. The beauty of the sky is that it can be quite loose, which is done best from afar. Use the [ and ] buttons on your keyboard to adjust your brush size; in this case, his ] to make it bigger. It’s hard to give a numerical setting, as it depends on the size of your monitor and how much you are zoomed in.

6. Time to start painting!

Hold the mouse button down and move, tracing over the shapes in the photo. Work your way over the sky, following the forms in the photo. The image will start to take on characteristics of the chosen brush and style. Use a small-sized brush for the sky near the beach huts.

7. Getting detailed

When it comes to the huts, pick the Paint on Rough Texture brush and, from Advanced, pick Tight Short and set Area to 21px. This will rein-in the brush swoops and preserve the detail. Now zoom in a bit more and work in the same way as with the sky; hold the mouse button and follow the form.

8. Loosen up

You can be a bit freer as you move to the distant beach huts. Once it’s turn in, the sketch ayer will help define shapes, and a real painter wouldn’t worry about excessive detail in distant objects. Our eyes can’t register it in real life, so it just looks fake if you paint it!

9. Finish the painting

Pick the Rough Dry Brush for the grass and sand areas. From Advanced, set Style to Loose Medium, with an area of 12%. Start painting, but keep on adjusting the brush size in order to keep the definition between light and dark colours

10. Final touches

Once you have completed the painting, spend a few minutes looking at it. If you find some areas to blobby, reduce the effect by using a smaller brush or a different brush. We picked Scattered Dry Brush Small Tip, set to Tight Short and a 49% Area. This smoothed out the clouds and grass area.

11. Don’t forget the sketch

When you’re happy with the result, bring the sketch back in. Click on the sketch layer and then the eye icon to make it visible. If the lines seem too harsh, use the Opacity slider to fade them out.