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Here´s a little quick guide how to do make a painterly photo blending with textures, which is my preferred method – it´s of course just one of many ways to create a painterly photo. If you´re more into learning from a video check the link below:

How to blend a photo with textures
If I want a soft look I often use textures from Flypaper (see link below) and if I want a more grungy look I use the textures from Florabella (see link below). Have just gotten textures from +Roberta Murray and +Dirk Wüstenhagen, but I don´t have much experience with them yet – so far I think they are best for soft and dreamy pics. You can also find some free ones or make your your own. I open the textures through Adobe Bridge, but any way will do. You can open them one by one, drag and drop or copy and paste them into new layers on top of the pic you wanna paint on in the app of your choice. My chioce is Photoshop. I chose 2-10 textures totally by intuition and add them as layers on top of the photo I wanna make painterly. Normally not all of the textures works – often I end up using 2-5 textures. It´s a process of exploring and experimenting with trial and errors along the way. The very same texture can look horrible on one pic and awesome on another. Just keep on going and have fun :)

My process is a little bit like this:
First I simplify the photo a little bit – Flypaper recommends to use one of the filters in Photoshop like Paint Daubs or Water Colour at a low setting and then Poster Edges @ 10% max or to use the filter Colour Noise at a very low setting and then sharpen this with the filter Poster Edges at around 10%. In my case I use Topaz Simplify > Oil Paint or Water Color by default and with the opacity of the new layer lowered to about 30%

On top of that I add the textures and it doesn´t matter what version of Photoshop you use. I transform all the layers of textures so they fit the photo and then I try them one by one in different blend modes. Well sometimes I choose not to fit the size of the texture to the image I wanna make painterly to be able to just use a speciel part of the texture. I hit ´v´on the keyboard to be in ´move´ mode – the following shortcuts only works in ´move´ mode – and then I normally try the following overlay modes:

Screen: hit alt + shift + s (generally it makes the pic soft and light and for that it´s best to use a dark texture)
Multiply: hit alt + shift + M (generally it makes the pic softer)
Color Burn: hit alt + shift + B (generally it change the colors and makes more contrast in the pic)
Linear Burn: hit alt + shift + A (generally it change the colors – not as much as Color Burn - and makes more contrast in the pic)
Soft Light: hit alt + shift + F (enhance the pic and contrary to Screen it keeps the light areas)
Overlay: hit alt + shift + O (it´s a stronger version of Soft Light)
Hard Light: hit alt + shift + H (it´s a little extreme and tends to blow out areas of the pic)
Vivid Light: hit alt + shift + V (it´s more extreme than Hard Light and tends to blow out areas of the pic)

I change the opacity of the layers – often between 10 and 50%. Color Burn, Linear Burn _and _Multiply I use mostly from 5-20%. Guess Soft Light and Overlay, which is a stronger version of Soft Light, are the ones I use the most. Sometimes I change one of the textured layers to black and white. Hit cmd + shift + U. And sometimes – if I think the texture is too distinct – I blur that layer with Gaussian Blur until I like it. Sometimes I use Hue-Saturation to change the color of the texture so it match for example the sky. When I activate Hue-Saturation I hold alt down and in the dialog popping up I tick Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask so the changes only only is applied to this texture layer.

Often I add a layer mask to one or more of the layers and paint out the effect on some parts of the photo – maybe I don´t paint the effect totally out. Sometimes I use a gradient on the layer mask. If you´re not comfortable with layer masks you can use the erase tool.

Every time there´s a combination I like, I make a new History State and then once in a while I look through all the History States – sometimes 20 or more – to compare the better ones, choose the best one and explore more possibilities from there or if I satisfied go on to the last steps.

On top of all the layers I add the original photo with a black layer mask and slowly paint back some of the original details. Specially human skin that otherwise tends to look very dirty. In fact I restore human skin totally and and a 30% white brushstroke around that selection in the mask, so there´s a little graduation from the textured part to the non textured. On top of this I add a blank layer and copy the mask from the layer below. Then I add the new overall color the photo has gotten from the textured layers to the blank layer, so the masked out parts of the human skin get the same color as the rest of the photo. Normally I change this layer to Soft Light. Florabella and Nicole Van has some actions for that (see link below)

I am using a Mac but it´s exactly same procedure on a PC – just hit ´control´ instead of ´cmd´. If you have any questions or suggestions to this procedure you´re most welcome to post it.

Hope this was helpful to you
Alexius Jørgensen


Thanx to
• Nicole Van, who´s textured photos got me started (see link below).
+Trey Ratcliff from who´s videos I learned the basics about how to blend photos with textures (see link below).
• Flypaper who´s monthly samples of how they blend with textures is very inspirational (see link below).
• Florabella who´s videos has inspired me creatively speaking and who´s textures I love (see link below).
+Brian Matiash from +onOne Software who – he´s not teaching textures though – has been a great help through OnOne Webinars showing how to enhance photos with Perfect Suite, that I often use before adding textures (see link below).

LINKS:
+Dirk Wüstenhagen (texture – some free – and free tuturials):
http://wuestenhagenimagery.blogspot.com/

Flypaper (textures and free tuturials):
http://flypapertextures.blogspot.com/

Flypaper Video:
http://flypapertextures.blogspot.com/search/label/video%20tutorial

Florabella (actions, textures and free tuturials):
http://www.florabellacollection.com/

Nicole Van (actions and textures):
http://shop.nicholev.com/default.aspx

+onOne Software (free video tuturials):
http://www.ononesoftware.com/university/#!/video/welcome-to-the-onone-university

+Roberta Murray (textures and art):
http://pictorialistphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Textures-For-Digital-Imaging/G0000eFGNUJqHLis/

+Trey Ratcliff (textures and tuturials):
http://www.stuckincustoms.com/textures-tutorial/
Sharing painterly photos – curated by Alexius Jørgensen
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20 comments
 
Thank you for this! I have used textures before, but they always seem to override the pictures. I'll have to try some of your techniques next time :)

Also, a good place for finding free textures is deviantArt. I've found some brilliant textures on there, and 99% are free to use.
 
Much appreciated!! P.S. Your work is stellar.
Mohan M
 
Thanks for the info Alexius ... :)
 
Thanks for sharing the workflow info. I always enjoy seeing how others work.
 
Good to know I'm going along the right lines, thanks!
Oh, and I didn't know the Alt+Shift+F trickery in move mode; that's new.

(Did you know, if you're in zoom mode, select a layer and then you can type a number and it becomes the layer's transparency percentage, without having to enter the number or use the slider? That was a pleasant accidental discovery :)
 
Yepper, I know +Tim Haynes but I prefer to drag with the mouse on top of the word OPACITY next to the numbers in the layers dialog box – that way I see the changes gradually ... but I guess it´s all a matter of taste :)
 
Oh the power of Blending Modes in PS....:)...it's alot of fun messing with the endless combinations...helps if you have some idea in mind already, but I like being pleasantly surprised sometimes....cheers!
 
+Alex Racanelli – personally i always just follow my intuition seldom know – at least consciously – where i will end and most times i get pleasantly surprise as you say :)
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