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Creating Painterly Photographs

Lesson 19 of 21

Creating Painterly Image Effects with Software

Kathleen Clemons

Creating Painterly Photographs

Kathleen Clemons

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Lesson Info

19. Creating Painterly Image Effects with Software

Lesson Info

Creating Painterly Image Effects with Software

So now I want to show you how to use one of the filters in Nik filters to solve a common problem that flower photographers have and also to emulate the look of the tulle. So I took this full frame rose shot and you can see that there are some background edges showing through. And, I couldn't crop those, I don't crop anyway but I couldn't crop them off in camera because I would lose the edges of the petals that I wanted to preserve. And I didn't want to do that. I wanted all of those curves in there and because I know that I have a technique that I can deal with that in Photoshop I really wasn't too worried about it. So let's open this one up. And go to filter. Nik Collection and the Nik Collection is free people. If you don't have the Nik Collection you should have the Nik Collection. It's very powerful software and free. I'm gonna go to Color Effects Pro 4. And when you open it you can see that there are a gazillion different presets. All kinds of different things that you can do. But...

the one that I want to show you is the Vignette filter, which is down here at the bottom. Now the default is black and so you're going, oh Kathleen what have you done? So let's take that right off right away because that looks just terrible. But, what you might not have noticed if you've used this before is this little eye dropper tool up at the top. So I can select the color that I want of my Vignette. So I'm gonna click on that and I'm gonna choose a color that's close to the areas that I want to cover up that's near by those areas. So, I'm gonna be covering this up. Let's grab this right here. And you can see that the color changed. Then I'm gonna place the center, and in this case right in the center. And then if I take that opacity and start pulling that back in you're gonna watch those edges disappear. Very simple. And the good thing about Nik is that I can click brush. I can, instead of just open and then that gives me some more choices on how how I want to apply this filter. A little window is gong to open up. Soon. (laughs) There it is. And I can choose to paint this selection on. That would mean just taking a brush and adding it just where I want. I can choose to fill which would mean everything you just saw on that other screen, and then I can erase parts of it off. I generally like to paint because I like to build up the color. I don't want it over the center. I only want it on those small areas. So I'll click paint and come up here and choose an opacity of about 50%. And then I'm just painting it on. And over the heavier parts. This is a bug in, the new Photoshop 2015. with Nik, so this should've opened in, I had it set to open in just 2015. It will just keep telling you you're in the selective editing mode like you didn't know 'cause you clicked brush. But anyway you just brush it on the edges instead. Or you could hoose to fill to add it all in and just erase it off the parts in the center that you want it. But that will give you that Vignette effect and it comes in really handy if you have a scene that's a little busier in the background then you wanted. You can just add a light Vignette of color like we did with the tulle and the lace. But you can do it in Photoshop. (beeping) Yes? So, Kathleen I just want to clarify for people we are, of course we have here at Creative Live many many many Photoshop classes and many Right. amazing Photoshop classes so for some of what we're dong here we are assuming a basic knowledge of Photoshop. Yep. But these are all things that are very easy to do in Photoshop. Right. So we're not gonna go through every little thing. Right. That being said, I know you mentioned that Nik software if free, however some people might not be familiar with how you can use plugins along with Photoshop. So, can you explain that Right. a little bit? Right. You can see that when I have the image, I just went up to filter and then my plugins are all listed and then I would just choose one and that plugin will open up in Photoshop. You can use this in Lightroom too but you don't have the option of using a brush because Lightroom doesn't have layers. So I prefer to do it in Photoshop. And the Nik Collection also has a black and white. It has Viveza 2 which is amazing and powerful for selective edits. You just put one control point on and it will only effect a certain area of your image, which is great. There's noise reduction filter as well, Analog Pro. But it used to be quite expensive. And then the whole collection went for $149 I think and then suddenly it's free. So for all of us who paid individually, we're like well thanks. But the problem with it now is that because it's free they don't seem to be doing the updates and when Photoshop CC was just updated, the brush isn't working in any of their software. So we're hoping that they will maintain it but there's no guarantee so I've kept the regular version of Photoshop on my computer and when I wanted to use Nik, then I'm opening photos in that because then I know I can still use the brush because I very rarely will do selective, I mean I will very rarely do global editing in Nik, because of the fact that I can do it with a brush and do it selectively is what I want to do. So, definitely and there's, there are a lot of free tutorials on Youtube for Nik and there's one on my website where I show you how to use Viveza 2 for the selective edits as well as how to do this Vignette filter as well and go through the whole program a little bit more if you want more information on how I use Nik. So. Okay. There's a link for that. I just want to, take a moment to ask some questions that came in from these last techniques Yeah. that you've already been showing us before we Sure. get too much further ahead. First of all Danielle Cooper says, "The dancing flower technique is just incredible. "Thank you so much for sharing." Oh good. "Cannot wait to try it." So a question about the dancing flower technique, Yeah? from Zingrid or Z Ingrid. Let's see. "Do you have a favorite type of flower "when applying the dancing flower technique?" Ah. And then several of your examples were the long petaled flowers, so is that a particular reason? That is an excellent question. I mean, this wouldn't work really well with a rose. You want something with outstretched petals. And a simple flower. You notice that that was the only flower in the frame. Because it's, you want to draw attention to that. That's gonna be the star of your image. I would want background answers. (laughs) with my dancing flower. So you want something simple. And I like to get down low with the flower so that I'm, the petals are coming toward me and outstretched. Not so much a view of the center. It's the petals that are my main focus. But that is a great question. That's why I like Magnolias are great for it. Daisies, Rudbeckia, something with a long flowing petal, is going to look more like a dancer. Because you have the outstretched arms and the outstretched petals. Great. Wonderful. Thank you. Another question was could you, would you be able to show us and maybe in your next one, Yeah? how again, how you put a texture on the background? So the textures are coming up at the end. Oh okay. Yeah. Great. (laughs) Then, Yeah. Another question from Photo Maker. The twisting that you're doing for the double exposure effect, something that you could create a Photoshop action from to automate it? You could but I'm not doing them always the same. And sometimes I'm only at 25% opacity and you could if you knew that you were going to be doing the same thing with each layer. Definitely. Actions are fabulous. Great. And then just clarifying again on Nik. Mary Thomas has said, "Is the only the brush effected in Nik?" That's the only thing I have found so far. Okay. (Kathleen laughs) I stopped using it for anything that I thought I might want to use Nik for. So I'm not positive but I know that the brush is effected and it's been a few weeks, and there's been no fix. And we were kinda worried about that with it being free if the support would disappear. So. Got ya. Got ya. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And we have a question. First of all using that blur background in Nik, the Vignette with color? Yeah? Blew me away on that. Now I never used Nik before 15.5 CC and I didn't know what the problem was but I just do and apply, go back to Photoshop and add my mask And add it. and work that way. Yep. That's kind of the work around. But I definitely know Yes, yeah. how it worked before so that's what I did. Yeah. But that blurring Vignette was fantastic. Oh good. Thank you for that. Good. I'm glad you liked it. Yeah that would definitely be a good work around to just instead of using the brush, apply it to the whole thing and then go in and make a layer mask and reduce it from, take it off of where you don't have it. But I'm just used to using the brush because it's so simple and quick and easy and then, I thought something was wrong with my computer. Googled it and it's all over the place on the internet of people complaining about it. So, I'm hoping that it will be fixed. If not, I'm going to be keeping my older version of Photoshop for a very long time. So that I can still use it. So here's another example. These were two roses and, I'm not a fan of dark backgrounds especially with light colored subjects. So, I'd use the Vignette, to just soften that up. And then I thought well why not a texture? And I put a texture just on the parts of the Vignette. That Vignette sets down a lovely base for a texture. It's very soft and even. Just that veil of color. So, let's go back from, so I was at this, to that. I just think that's much prettier. Alright. The oil paint filter was missing for awhile in Photoshop and it's back. It's a little harder to find. So let me show you where it is and what we can do with it. So let's open this leaf that I found in a cemetery gate. And now filter used to be in the filters. Now it's hidden down here in stylize. Oops. Lost it. So, go to oil paint. You get this lovely little window which at 100% is a little too much effect. Okay. So, you have six sliders to deal with. I really only deal with four. And I'll show you why. So, you have stylize which is your brush strokes from short to long. So just by sliding this you can go from shorter brush strokes to longer brush strokes. Let's leave that somewhere in the middle. Cleanliness is the amount of detail. It really should be detail rather than cleanliness. So from realistic to very soft. So we'll put that somewhere in the middle. Scale is the size of your brush, from small to large. And bristle detail is the sharpness from soft edges to hard edges. So let's pull that down. Bristle detail I don't use a whole lot because I like softness. So I'm gonna pull that down. The lighting is the one that I use the least. You can change the lighting direction, and shine. If you pull these up, you sort of get, is it showing in my preview? Hmm. It's not showing in my preview. You get sort of what looks to me like a, there. Like a, (laughs) I don't even know how to describe it. Like a paint my number embossed look. Which I don't like at all. So I am leaving shine completely down and I don't play with the angle of light for most of my photos. But I like a decent amount of blur and brush stroke and distortion. So let's open that. Let's see how that looks. So if we go to, my history. To that. There it is. And I forgot to make a new layer for this which I would so that I could take a little bit off the leaf. But let's just deal with that and go to the history so I can show you that way. So, on that little plain, to a painterly effect. Let me show you on another photo that will show the effect a little bit more. This one's a little bit small for your screen. So. That's... (beeping) Okay. This is a tower that I photographed in Ireland. So let's open it. Let's remember to make a new layer. Let's go to filter and down to stylize. Oil paint. And let's paint this one right up, with some big brush strokes. There. I think you can see the effect a lot more in this one. Let's, go to my layers. (clicking) You turn it off. (clicking) Okay. Won't let me turn it off. Oh the joys of Photoshop. Okay. I'll pull these back for you so that you can see. (clicking) And again I'm not touching shine. (chuckles) So, let's get some long brush strokes. (clicking) And scale the size of the brush. Probably a pretty large brush. (clicking) And then let's say okay. So now look at the effect especially down here. You can see that this looks very painterly. The flowers are. If that effect is too much, I can pull that back with a layer mask. If I think the effect on the building is too much, I can pull that back. Let's show you how I do that. And my opacity would be low, if I wanted to bring out more natural texture of the building. Let's get the white reflected. I can start to pull that back a little bit. And then one flower right there bug me a little bit. (laughs) probably would be pulling that back as well. It's a simple oil paint program to use and I'm gonna show you a much better one but you don't have to buy this one because it comes with Photoshop and since it's back I did want to include it. So let's go back to my slideshow. I don't know why I keep doing that. Okay. This is a dahlia that a friend gave to me and I want to show you how I use Topaz Impression in this. A lot of people call it Impressions. It's Topaz Impression. And it is a really really powerful painting program. So let's open this one up. Can go over here. Now Topaz does not open in a new, it won't do the effect on a new layer so you're always going to want to make your own new layer so that you can reduce the effect or you can paint it off certain areas. So, let's go into filter, Topaz Labs. And they just came out with a new version which is Topaz Impression 2. And it does have some new features that I like very much. And no I don't want to see updates. Okay. So right away it has started painting for me. And it usually opens with a default of featured, which I would really like to be able to control what it opens in because I would open it in painting and since I was there last it seems to have opened in painting. So you can see right away it has chosen a preset and it has painted my photo. I mean here's my original. And that's the Topaz version. But each one of these categories has presets in it. So you can go through all of them, or you can go through the ones that are your favorites, or just impressionistic ones. Just pencil sketches. But it's pretty darn amazing and pretty fast. And you can just scroll through, and try all these different effects of different painting styles and remember in the beginning we talked about what sort of painting styles you like? So you will develop your favorites. Now there's one coming up that I know you will not be surprised that is my favorite. And guess what it's called? Georgia O'Keeffe. Correct. (audience laughing) And there are two. There's Georgia O'Keeffe 1 and Georgia O'Keeffe 2. And Georgia O'Keeffe one is a little bit lighter. There's Georgia O'Keeffe one coming. Let's go back to that original. See the difference? Now I never ever leave this at 100% opacity. Because I don't want the effect to be the subject. I want my flower to be the subject but shown with a little bit of a painterly look. So, you can choose to close it and then reduce the opacity back in your layers palette. Or you can pull it back right here. So that I'm generally under 50% with this program. But that's just my personal taste. If you love a really really painterly effect, then do a little higher. But here's the original. (clicking) And there's my edit. And it's just a little softening. The colors are blended a little more. It's just a soft beautiful, beautiful look. And in the new Topaz 2, you can visit a lot more different painting filters. This would be really great if you broke your leg and (laughs) you were stuck in bed and then you could explore all of these. And each one of these filters, let's say I choose this water color filter. I can customize. I can click there. I can change the type of brush, the paint volume. I can, the stroke width. I can smudge it. I can deal with the color. I can add a texture to it. I can mask it which is in Impression 2. You couldn't do masking in Impression 1. But you can do a little here, and do it simply or you can get into a very complex type job. That's depends how much you want to do, how much time you have and you don't have to. Because I think sometimes really powerful software can get overwhelming for people. But this doesn't have to be. You could just click on the preset, play with the opacity and move on. So let's cancel out of that. Don't want to save it. (clicking) And let's do another. (beeping) (clicking) Okay. This is the only wedding I have ever shot and hope probably to ever shoot. I did it for love, this is family. This is my nephew Nathan and his lovely bride Lauren, and I thought how nice it would be to be able to if you did weddings to give the couple a painting of their wedding. I thought that would just be such a beautiful, beautiful thing to do. So, you can take this into Impression. So first thing I want to do is a new layer. To be sure it actually took this time. It did (laughs). And then I'm gonna go to filter. Topaz Labs. Topaz Impression 2. Okay. And here too, I could go through until the cows come home, with all these different effects. But I played with this already and the one that I liked, was called Jim LaSala. I couldn't do Georgia O'Keeffe but, we're gonna shake it up a little bit. So let's find Jim LaSala. I think he's in the paintings. Perhaps not. Let's see. Let's go to impressionistic as well. How 'bout a Susanne? Yeah. I like that one pretty much too. So we went from this, with sharp detailing. You can see that this filter warmed their skin tones up quite a bit. And you of course would pull down the opacity. 'Cause you want a little bit of a painterly look. You don't want an in your face painterly look. I think this is beautiful and I'd be happy to give it to them. Could also do this with the cake or the rings or the flowers. Just something special to give your couple beyond just the basic photo. So, something to think about definitely beyond flowers. So I'm gonna cancel that. Close it out. Gonna try and cancel it. (clicking) Do not want to save it. Go back to Bridge. Alright here are a couple of more examples of images that I have done with the software. These are daisies in Ireland and I thought they looked like they were dancing but they needed a little more, a little softness. A little more of a painterly look to really carry that off. This is Portland, Oregon. I went on a wine tasting tour. (laughs) And shot some of the vineyards and wanted to add a painterly look to that. And you can leave a strong effect. This is with Susanne. It's a window in my husbands shop where he works and I left this one heavier than I generally do, because I loved the look. And it was just a plain window with some red leaves on it. I thought it was a beautiful, beautiful effect. And this is my friend Megan riding her bicycle and I did Impression on this photo, but I masked it off Megan so that Megan wasn't as painterly but she was bicycling in a painterly environment. So that's something you can do. You don't have to leave the effect all over the image. And it works on boats! These are boats from Ireland. It was a busy shot and I wanted to make it a little different. I loved the red, green and blue of the boats and so I took it into Impressions and turned it in a painting. And this is the blueberry fields, the other side of the blueberry fields that I showed you earlier. And now they're a painting of those blueberry fields. And now it's time to talk about textures. So do we have questions about the other parts before we do textures? Check in with folks. We'll check in with folks at home as well. Let's see. A question form Reema. Just a clarification. When you're working with Topaz, Yeah? Are you working on a new layer before you open Topaz Labs plugin? Yep. Great. Always try to remember. Nik makes a layer for you so I'm used to software that is automatically putting the effect on a new software and Topaz doesn't do that. So I'm trying to train myself to always do a new layer.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Make yourself stand out among nature photographers by adding a new dimension to your images. Painterly techniques draw attention to the delicate patterns, lines, textures, and designs that we often overlook in the natural world.

Kathleen Clemons is an experienced nature photographer, known for her creative techniques and her unique, stunning compositions. 

Join Kathleen for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to achieve the painterly look in-camera with slow shutter, selective focus, Lensbaby, and multiple exposures.
  • How to evoke the painterly look in Photoshop with panning.
  • How to use Topaz Impression and NIK software to make painterly photos.
In this class, you’ll learn how to create painterly images by using a wide variety of techniques. Kathleen will show you how to apply effects using in-camera settings, different lenses, Adobe Photoshop®, and low-tech tricks like applying vaseline to filters. Capture the magic of nature and turn your photography into remarkable impressionistic art. 



Wow. I really loved this class. I took her other class, "The Art of Flower Photography" as well. She is very thorough, explains concepts clearly and is professional, yet kind. I have been doing photography for decades, but flower photography is a little bit of a different animal. I have found it to be extraordinarily challenging - which is also invigorating! At the same time, using Kathleen's principles, I feel like I now have basic rules and tools under my belt which I did not have before. This is a little humbling as I have been doing photography for so long and was surprised there were a few basic concepts I didn't "get the memo" on. haha. This class will save me heaps of trial and error time. I will be much better able to zero in on what I really need to work on. I actually recommend taking both her Creative Live courses. Yes, there is a bit of overlap - but that little bit of repetition is actually helpful. They are not the same class. Oh, and one more "perk" get to view some of the most stunning flower photography ever created. Masterful. Thank you, Kathleen.

Donna Macri Stevens

As I've been watching this class, I have literally been sitting at my computer and saying aloud, "Wow....WOW!" This is an absolutely amazing class!!! I began watching it while it streamed, but had to buy it. Kathleen is an amazing instructor, and she is SO generous with her tips and techniques. I love that she supplemented her instruction with on-site videos, in class photo manipulation and so much more. If you love flower photography or want amazing tips on how to make your photos more painterly, CLICK BUY NOW! I'm just blown away! This is a GREAT, GREAT class!


Kathleen's images have a very artistic and painterly character, so she is a great presenter for this subject. In this class she openly shares many of her methods of shooting to create in-camera artistic images (even with your phone) as well as post-processing techniques. She presents this material with her open, calm, strong and passionate manner that gives you an "artistic license" to experiment and discover "What happens if?" I have admired her work for a long time and am so excited that she shares the secrets of creating her enchanting images here. If you are interested in capturing images that go beyond what you see to incorporate how you feel about a subject, you will love this class!