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PhotoShop CS2 - Art History

This tutorial will attempt to show a technique to transform a very good photograph into, hopefully, a very good painting. This was inspired by my good friends over at which are a fantastic bunch that love learning about photography and art - all things digital. Also on my list of thank-you-s, is Richard Calmes, a wonderful photographer, for the permission to use his photographs both at and here in this tutorial, thank you Richard. Please visit Richards site here.

Original photography copyright (c) by Richard Calmes

The photo I chose for this is from Richard's backstage gallery. This photo intrigues me because of the display of emotion, anticipation and the sense of nervous joy, as they watch what must be a performance. They know the strength and the pain that must be endured to make a performance look as graceful and as effortless as a butterfly in flight. Richard's larger size photo is found here.

Small version of final (artwork by Joe Martin)

This is where we are headed. For this tutorial I had to recreate this painting which was originally done for a challenge here. No two paintings are ever the same, so you might like the original better or worse than this one, but the methods and techniques are identical.

Note: The small size of the image at right does not adequately show the stroke and color detail present in the actual size. More on this later.

If you are interested in following along with this tutorial then download the photo (large size) to your machine. I should state that any derivative works should not be published with out prior permission from Richard Calmes. You will also need my art-history tool presets installed. (Download here)

Getting Started

Richards largest size photo for this piece measures 1001px by 648px. That pretty large for a web image, but, if I am going to put a lot of work into this I'd like to be able to print this at a reasonable size. We need to enlarge (upsize) this photo. Even if I am only going to display this on the web I still like to work at twice the final size at least. I usually display my largest web image at between 700 - 800px in width, so for this I would need at least 1600px across. I settled on 2145 x 1388 for this tutorial.

Note: You've probably heard of up sizing programs that cost a lot of money and are supposed to enlarge images by huge amounts. This is good but I found that other photographers have discovered that up sizing (resizing) in small increments does a very good job. I made an action in PhotoShop that upsize's an image by 110%. I used this 8 times to get to my final size for this work. I also sharpen a couple times during the process.

Initial Layers and Snapshots (save this as a psd file at this time).

Initial Layers and Snapshots

The bottom layer is our detail layer (original photo new resized). This layer is duplicated and the median filter is applied at setting 12. Next, 2 snapshots are created. The first snapshot is called Median and will be used first. Notice that the snapshot dialog box allows for a name and a "From:" drop down. Make sure that the drop down is set to "Merged Layers". Next, hide the "Median" layer and make a snapshot of the "Detail" layer.

We want the Median layer to be visible and the Median snapshot to be chosen for our first art-history layers work (see left).

(see right) Your median layer should look about like this. We don't want much detail in this layer.
Note: Image not full size!

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