Oil Painting in Photoshop

By Steve Anchell Back to


One of the techniques I enjoy using, especially for portraits and landscapes, is converting an image to ap- pear like an oil painting. Photoshop CS6 (PS) has a built-in filter but I don’t care for it as much as this alternate technique. Here are the few easy steps to follow.

Start with a high-resolution image, preferably a RAW file. I chose this portrait of a young girl taken under a picnic table in 2004 with an Olympus E-1 DSLR.

1. After opening an image in PS right-click on the background image in the Layers dialog and create a background copy. Always work on a background copy of the original.

2. Pull down the Window menu and select Prop- erties>Hue/Saturation and oversaturate the image. For this image I am using a saturation level of 30, but you can go even higher. One of the nice things about Layers is that after you finish all of the steps below, you can return to the Hue/Saturation layer and increase or decrease the saturation as needed.

3. Go to Filter>Filter Gallery>Distort>Glass, then use the following settings: Distortion, 3; Smoothness, 3; Texture to Canvas; and Scaling, 75%. Do not click OK yet as you will be adding a few more filters while you’re still in the gallery. One of the nice things about the Filter Gallery is that it allows you to stack filters.

4. At the bottom right of the Filter Gallery is a New Effect Layer icon, just to the left of the Trash Can. Click on the icon and then open the Artistic filters set and choose Paint Daubs. Choose a Brush Size of 4; Sharpness of 1. For Brush Type choose Simple.

5. Create another New Layer Effect and open Brush Strokes. Choose Angled Strokes with a Direction Balance of 45; Stroke Length of 3 to 5; and Sharpness of 1.

6. Create one more New Effect Layer for the final effect. Open the Texture fil- ter set and select Texturizer. The settings for this image are Texture>Canvas; Scaling 60%; Relief 4; and Light>Top Left.

7. After applying the fourth and last filter click OK.

8. Create a second Background Layer by either right- clicking on the background copy or using the shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+J (Win/Mac).

9. Desaturate this new layer: Image>Adjustments> Desaturate then change the Blend Mode in the Layers Palette to Overlay.

10. Pull down the Filter menu and choose Stylize> Emboss: Angle, 135; Height, 1; Amount, 400%. With the Background copy 2 still selected lower the Opacity to about 50%.

That’s all there is to it. You will want to adjust the actual settings to fit your specific images.

Resources: Adobe Photoshop- adobe.com

About the Author

Steve Anchell
Steve Anchell is an internationally published photographer, teacher and writer. His books The Darkroom Cookbook, The Variable Contrast Printing Manual and The Film Developing Cookbook are international photography bestsellers. steveanchell.com