Fine-Tuning Your Digitized Photo Painting in Photoshop

painting in photoshop

The last tutorial showed you how to set up your layers in Photoshop for transforming a photo into a “hand-drawn” style sketch painting. This tutorial will focus on how to take the layers you have and blend them into a cohesive, beautiful picture. In other words help you get better at painting in photoshop.

(Disclaimer: I’ve had people ask me complex questions about getting into the professional photography business. While I have friends in the profession and know that Photoshop is a necessary tool for the modern photographer, I’m not in the business, so I can’t answer related questions; I just have a knack for retouching the photos of friends and family and am familiar with the workings of the program.)

Let’s begin with the layer we labeled “hstroke”. Select it, then click on “Layer Mask” in the palette box. Next, hide every layer other than “hstroke” by clicking on the eye icon. Click on the “hstroke” layer’s mask to activate it.

Begin painting in photoshop by using the Brush Tool, make the foreground black. Black out any areas you want to cover up; conversely, use white to reveal a previously covered up spot. (In general, it’s always a good idea to set the foreground to black and the background to white so you can easily switch back and forth with X key. Whatever is painted with black will be hidden from view because of its low-scale opacity. Because white is its virtual opposite, it has a very high-scale opacity, which is why everything painted with it will be revealed. Using grey will produce half-scale opacity, which will be partially transparent. This is harder to control, so your best bet is to stick with black or white.

Okay, now shift the layer mask to your Layer Set by clicking “Layer Set”, then “Layer Mask”. You’ll be able to use the Layer Set’s mask in the same manner as the regular mask. Click on “Brush Tool” and select a big brush tip. Keeping the layer set’s mask in place, use black paint around the edge of your photo. For closer control you can always press “F” to switch to full screen. When you’re done, go to Filter/Artistic/Palette Knife to adjust the details of your stroke to satisfaction. To smooth it out, use a little Gaussian Blur.

Copy your layer set. In your “new” layer set, go to Layer/Merge Layer Set. Label the layer to “newsketch”. Go to Filter/Sketch/Chalk & Charcoal to adjust the Charcoal and Chalk area; also adjust the Stroke Layer to 2. Set your blending mode to “Multiply” close to 100%. Click on the “newsketch” mask. Call up the “curves” box and switch the black in the mask to grey; doing this will cause the area around the edges to be more visible.

If you’ve done all this and discover that your photo is still too dark, you’ll have to use the adjustment layer; this will adjust the colors you dictate across all layers without flattening them. The adjustment also acts as a fine tuner for the finished product by adjusting the contrast and saturation of your colors, allowing you greater control of the outcome. To use this option, select the top layer and click “Adjustment Layer” towards the bottom of the palette, then click “Curve”

You can change the curve by clicking and dragging the curve line. Your source point (or control point) will pop up when you click the middle of your curve, then just drag your mouse to adjust the curve the way you want it. When you’re done, click OK.

The adjustment layer also lets you modify your changes whenever you’d like by clicking it twice. To make it “hide” (disappear temporarily), click on the Eye icon; to get rid of it forever, drag it over to the “Trash” icon. If saturation is an issue, use the hue/saturation adjustment layer to fix any unwanted color problems. Just click “Create Adjustment Layer” , then “Hue/Saturation”. Moving the slidebar to the left will lessen the saturation effect, while sliding it to the right will have the opposite effect. If you only want to fix a certain color, click the Edit button and pick the color you want to concentrate on.

Now you’ve created all the layers necessary to make a perfect drawing/painting rendition of your photo. All that’s left is to create a final layer mask to blend everything together, and you should be all set. Enjoy your new digitized “painting”.

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

8 Tips to Apply a Faux Leather Painting Technique

faux leather painting

The faux leather painting technique is an extremely popular faux finish, especially on walls. A common use of the technique occurs when one utilizes the faux leather painting on the lower half of a wall in a darker color, contrasting it with a lighter color on the top half of the wall. It also works well on coffee table tops, desk drawers, and other accents on furniture pieces and decorative accents like frames.

Technique Tip #1: Gather all of your supplies together before you begin your faux leather painting technique. You will need a primer, a base coat, a matching glaze, a flat paint brush and a stippling paint brush as well as a Fitch edge paint brush, painter’s tape and paper towels. If you would like to wear latex gloves or any other protective gear, then do that first.

Technique Tip #2: Before you begin your faux leather painting, tape off the edges of your project. Measure carefully and make sure your lines are straight if you’re doing a half wall or stripes.

Technique Tip #3: Start by priming the wall or the object you are decorating with a faux leather painting technique. Allow it to dry completely.

Technique Tip #4: Next, apply the base coat to the wall when your primer is completely dry. This is applied using a flat brush. Allow it to dry normally and completely before moving onto the next step.

Technique Tip #5: When the base coat is completely dry, it is time to apply the glaze. This is the most important part of the faux leather painting technique. If you are using this technique on a large area, consider doing this part in sections to make sure that it doesn’t dry before you have time to use the brushes to create the faux leather effect.

Technique Tip #6: After you apply the glaze, use the stipple brush randomly to soften the brush marks left by the flat blush during application.

Technique Tip #7: Use the Fitch edge brush along the edges and corners to blend the brush marks again and finish off the faux leather look.

Technique Tip #8: Allow the glaze to dry completely. If you would like, apply a clear and thin sealant on top to protect your work.


Tips for Faux Leather Painting

Paint Technique: Faux Leather Instructions

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

Art Book Review: Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor

drawing and painting

Drawing and painting can be very difficult, especially for beginners. There are many different art books to help people who are trying to improve their artistic talent, or just give people ideas when they don’t know what to draw. Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor is a great book for architectural type drawings. This book is great for beginners, and for those who are a little more experienced as well. This art how-to book can help anyone become a better artist. Here is a review and more information about the art book, Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor.

Review of Drawing and Painting Buildings- art materials
Drawing and Painting Buildings starts off with information about the different kinds of materials you can use to create your artwork. It covers all the most common supplies used to draw and paint buildings such as pencil, pen, watercolor, and more. Rather than listing the materials that can be used for your buildings, this art book has information about how to use each of the materials and different effects that can be achieved with them. If you are unsure about how to use a certain material or have been wanting to try one but don’t know what to do, Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor will surely help you.

Review of Drawing and Painting Buildings- perspective
Perspective is one of the most important parts of drawing or painting buildings, this is what makes them look realistic and three-dimensional. It’s not a very hard thing to learn and master, but if it hasn’t been taught to you, there’s a good chance you could be struggling with it. Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor goes over all the different perspective and explains them so that they are easy to understand and draw or paint.

Review of Drawing and Painting Buildings- building textures
There are so many different types of building and houses and that can be hard to recreate on paper. This art how-to book is great when it comes to teaching you how to do things such as brick, wood, stone, tiles, and even more. There are instructions and examples drawn out to help you make your building look realistic.

Review of Drawing and Painting Buildings- building types
Skyscrapers, cottages, town homes, Victorian houses, and other types of buildings are all discussed in the art book, Drawing and Painting Building by Richard Taylor. There are many examples provided, so you can practice by copying them or create your own using the same technique. There is also a written description that will help you better understand these techniques, so you can either go straight to the drawing or read the paragraph to get a better idea of what you’re doing, or both.

How to draw building books can be hard to find at the typical arts and crafts stores, and for this reason (among others), Drawing and Building Buildings by Richard Taylor is one of the best how to draw building books. It is very detailed, without being complicated, and there are lots of examples provided if you are a visual person. Another great thing about this art book is that there are so many examples, so if you’re out of ideas for what to draw or paint, this can be your inspiration.

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

Nail Painting: Perfectly Painted Nails

nail painting

To start nail painting, invest in a good nail polish, such as Revlon Colorstay (it runs between $3.00-4.00 a set) and a multi-step nail buffer, such as the 4-step one sold by Sephora (it runs about $5.00)

Start by cleaning any old nail polish off your nails with some nail polish remover and a cotton ball.

Next, trim your nails to the length you desire (shorter nails work because they can accommodate even some of the wildest colors with out looking gaudy or tacky)

Use the filing side on you buffer to smooth out any rough edges on your nails, then find the side that smoothes out your nail bed and rub it across the top of your nail until it is smooth to the touch. (This gives the nail polish an even surface to adhere too)

Now, gently shake your polish a few times to make sure the color is even mixed. Open the bottle and wipe off any excess from your brush on the side of the bottle.

Starting from your cuticle, use long, even strokes to reach the end of your nail. Apply more color to the brush as needed. (Remember it’s easier to add more polish to your nail than to take away. Keep this in mind to prevent getting polish all over your finger. If you do get some on your finger, dip the end of a Q-tip in some nail polish remover and gently rub off the smudge)

Once you have finished applying your color, let it air dry for approximately 5-10 minutes. (I know it’s tempting, but do not blow on your nails to dry them. This actually prolongs the drying time because the water vapor in your breath transfers to the polish, keeping it wet. If you are in a hurry, set your hair dryer on the lowest setting and gently sweep it back and forth over your nails. Be careful not to burn yourself, your hair dryer can get hot on your hands)

Repeat the previous few steps until you have the desired depth and intensity of the color.

Once your nails have dried, apply a top coat and let it set.

There you go! All finished. Your nails should look like you just stepped out of the salon (For a fraction of the price of course….but no one needs to know that. It’s our little secret!)

All of the products I mentioned can be found at most local stores or on

Thank you for reading this article about nail painting! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

How to Choose the Right Brush for Your Painting

types of paint brushes

Different Types of Paint Brushes

So you’re feeling inspired and gathered your paints and painting surfaces together. Maybe you have a competition you’re entering or are just making a gift for a friend. Knowing what the right kind of brush is to use can make all the difference in your final product. This article will help you get to know different types of paint brushes so you know which to choose in future for different kinds of projects.

Different brushes work best with different kinds of paints and its critical to chose the right one. As an artist, teacher and former art store manager, I have a lot of knowledge on brush types. Follow this easy guide to determine what type of brush is right for your project.

Natural Bristle

Natural bristle brushes are brushes made from animal hair such as horse, ox or squirrel hair. They vary in price from the quality and rarity of the brush hair. Most inexpensive natural bristle brushes are made from ox hair. There are varying textures in natural bristle brushes from soft to coarse. Natural bristle brushes show brush marks as you paint, and are suited well for oils or acrylic paints. They soak up some of the paint as you work and can help you layer paint thickly.

A disadvantage to animal hair is that it is not animal friendly, so that may discourage you from using natural bristle brushes. I prefer to not use natural bristle brushes whenever possible, but do use them for some projects. They can tend to be a bit pricier if you want a higher quality brush as compared to higher quality synthetics.


Synthetic brushes are made from nylon made into fibers. They are suitable for all types of paint and watercolors do especially well with synthetic brushes. Synthetic brushes are usually soft and typically inexpensive. They work great for moving fluid paint along your surface and mixing colors easily. They do not tend to show brush strokes and can be easier to clean. Synthetics also tend to be relatively inexpensive, even for high quality brushes.

However, synthetic brushes are not the best for layering paints thickly and sometimes have a lot of splitting of the fibers. I avoid using synthetics when I need to build those layers or am trying to achieve texture. They are good, however for when using mixing mediums in acrylic paint, because they do not tend to hold onto tiny particles that add texture.

With any brush, keeping it clean is the best way to improve longevity. Use a brush soap to clean your brushes and if using oils, an appropriate paint thinner to remove excess paint. Always dry brushes with the bristles facing upward to keep them from getting smashed and bent. I always recommend to my students to have a selection of both synthetics and natural bristle brushes so that no matter the project they are always prepared for their best work. The right brush can take your project from boring to truly breathtaking. And as always, make sure you practice and have fun as you create art.

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

The 5 Most Common Exterior Painting Mistakes

exterior painting mistakes

Exterior Painting Mistakes #1: Using the wrong paint

Making exterior painting mistakes can hugely affect the look of your property or personal outdoor items. A bad exterior paint job is easy to spot. You can see the paint peeling off the walls or blistering up in certain areas. Sometimes the color is not uniform or appears to have run. The first step is always to choose the right paint. The Home Depot website guides you in purchasing the right kind of paint. Use a water-based paint to paint the exterior of a mason home or a home with siding. Use an oil-based paint on wooden or metal exteriors. And, of course, don’t forget to always apply a primer first.

Mistake #2: Using the wrong painting tools

Ever notice a stained wooden door covered in white paint along the edges or a different color paint along the roof line of a home? Getting the job done as quickly as possible is just as important as getting it done right. You can find all the right tools at your nearest Home Depot. Painter’s tape and plastic sheeting are a must in order to cover areas that are not to be painted. Be sure to have a roller tray, roller frame, high density roller brush cover, a brush set of various widths and styles, and plenty of shop towels.

Mistake #3: Painting under inappropriate weather conditions

Watch the weather before painting the exterior of your home. Painting in direct sunlight or with strong wind will cause your paint to dry too quickly. Cold weather will not allow your paint to dry properly, and humid or wet conditions will also delay your paint from drying and may cause it to streak or run.

Mistake #4: Not preparing the surface to be painted

Be sure that the surface that you are going to paint is not peeling or blistering. If this is the case, be sure to scrape these areas. If the house has more than four coats of paint, you may want to consider sandblasting it before reapplying any additional paint. Sherwin Williams has some excellent tips on preparing exterior surfaces for painting.

Mistake #5: Overworking your paint

Finally, when painting with a roller, apply your strokes evenly and in the same direction. When reloading your roller, be sure to continue painting in the adjacent area while working your way back to the painted area. This prevents extra paint from building up and causing streaks. These tips should help you resolve many exterior painting mistakes before you make them!

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

Famous Paintings

famous paintings

Well-Known Paintings

A certain number of famous paintings are recognized by almost everyone, even people who have had no formal exposure to art. Think of the Mona Lisa, for example. That face with the mysterious smile appears on coffee mugs, t-shirts and cocktail napkins. Nat King Cole sang of her, and New Yorker cartoonists riff on her. This portrait, and other famous paintings such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Monet’s Waterlilies, are universally known and loved.

That may not make them the best choice when you’re purchasing artwork for yourself. Before you decide on a piece of art that you’ve seen enough to feel familiar and comfortable with, browse through the online galleries to look at less well known works. You might even find an original painting that speaks to you, and which you won’t see everywhere you go.

Look Beyond Famous Paintings

When people buy artwork for their homes and offices, they tend to choose from the same handful of paintings all the time. One reason for this is that these famous paintings are always available, and it takes little effort to find them. Another may be that the buyer is insecure about his or her taste. Everyone knows that Waterlilies is a great painting, so it’s a safer choice than the one you may like better but which is unknown.

Buy What You Love

It’s my belief that you should buy what you love. You live with it, you look at it every day, and it should please you every time you see it. The problem, of course, is that when you fall in love with an obscure painting, it may be hard to find a reproduction. Fortunately, internet shopping makes it much more likely that you’ll be able to find exactly what you want.

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

SketchUp Makes 3D Drawing and Modelling Easy For Beginners


Google Sketch-Up is a free 3D drawing program for creating polygon models quickly and easily. While lacking the sophisticated toolset and advanced features of the 3D software used by professional modelers and animators in both the gaming and film industries, such as those found in Autodesk Maya or Cinema 4D, SketchUp has a comparatively simple learning curve.

Google are masters of interface design, and Sketchup benefits from its uncluttered, easy to navigate layout. Unlike more complex 3D software, the Sketchup interface makes all of the programs intuitive modeling tools instantly accessible. Sketchup is comprehensively documented, and is further supported by an active and enthusiastic community and a variety of Google Sketch-Up tutorial videos.

Download Google Sketchup Free or Buy Sketchup Pro

Available for both the Mac and Windows, Google Sketch-Up comes in 2 editions. Sketchup itself is free, and can be downloaded from the Google Sketch-Up website. The free version of the software has certain limitations that are unlocked in the professional version of the program, Sketchup Pro, which retails for $495. The Pro version includes the following features not available in the free version of Google Sketch-Up:

  • Extended export capabilities, including saving out to the OBJ, FBX, 3DS and XSI formats.
  • Inclusion of LayOut, the 2D documentation design tool.
  • The ability to add attribute data to 3D models using Dynamic Components.
  • Use Solid Tools for additive and subtractive modeling.
  • Create 2D drawings and sketches from 3D geometry using Style Builder.

However, the 3D modeler using the personal edition of Sketchup for free can still make 3D models, export them to 3D formats such as KMZ and DAE and create limited scene-based animations. Free users can also upload their creations to the Google 3D warehouse to share with other Sketchup users, and make 3D buildings to upload to Google Earth.

Easy 3D Modeling in Free Sketchup Software

Making 3D models in Sketchup is a quick, intuitive process, that can be thought of as 3D drawing. Geometry in Sketchup is sketched out in 2D by drawing straight lines that, when linked together, form flat planes, such as triangles, squares and rectangles.

These 2D planes are then extruded into 3D using the Sketchup Push/Pull tool. This tool adds the third dimension to the sketch, creating 3D depth. This tool can also be used to cut holes through existing geometry. More complex extrusions can be achieved using the Follow-Me tool, which creates sweeps and lathes from 2D faces along a predetermined path sketched out by the 3D modeler.

The Paint Bucket tool, common to most 2D drawing applications, is used in Sketchup to add color to the flat faces of 3D models, or to add imported materials and textures to geometry. Textured 3D models can also benefit from the extra realism provided by the softwares Shadows Engine, which provides realistic real-time shadow effects to objects created in Sketchup.

Google Sketch-Up is Superior 3D Drawing Software

While the free version of Google Sketch-Up would be considered feature-light by most professional 3D digital artists, its simplicity is its strength. Learning all of the capabilities of market-leading 3D software creation tools such as Autodesk Maya, or the more advanced free 3D programs such as Blender or 3D DAZ Studio, can take weeks, months, or even years. In contrast, Sketchup enables a newcomer to 3D to be modeling effectively within minutes of downloading and installing the program.

The ease of use of the Sketchup modeling toolset can even be useful to the more experienced 3D artist, as rapid prototyping in this program is remarkably quick, with 3D geometry extruded from 2D sketches all but jumping off the screen. With the additional functionality offered by Google Sketch-Up Pro, it is little wonder that both the free and commercial versions of this superior 3D drawing software are so vastly popular, with millions of users worldwide.

We hope this article was inspiring for you! Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Teaching Young Children How to Paint

pallete of watercolors

With so many types of paint available, it may seem overwhelming when choosing what to buy for children. A boxed palette of watercolors can teach a child about mixing colors as well as how to take care of their arts and crafts supplies. Tempera paints offer more intense colors that work on paper as well as other surfaces

Materials for Young Painters Ages 2 to 12

Even a toddler can use a palette of watercolors. A palette of eight-to-ten colors is actually better for children than a palette twice that size because then the child has to mix colors to get lighter and darker colors than the kit offers. Children ages nine or ten and up might want to try using tube watercolors that require they squeeze a small amount of paint onto a plate or palette. Kids can try a variety of techniques with watercolors.

Tube paints are easier to mix and are good for children who like mixing colors and creating seventeen shades of green. Children eight and up may also enjoy exploring watercolor pencils since they can create a precision drawing with a pencil but soften the look with a brush and water.

Tempera paints are used directly as opposed to being mixed with water. Washable tempera paints are okay for painting on paper but if used on other surfaces and they get wet then the project is ruined. Use acrylics with children who possess the dexterity to manipulate a paintbrush and keep a neat work area.

Paintbrushes for Artwork

Purchase some inexpensive paintbrushes that are a better quality than the short, stiff-bristle brushes that come with watercolor palettes. Soft-bristled brushes require more control but they cover a surface (whether paper or wood) more smoothly.

Look for flat-edged brushes, pointed brushes, angled tip brushes, and even fan brushes. Quite often, sets of five brushes with different tips are sold in inexpensive sets. These brushes give more flexibility in creating different results and should be purchased for kids ages seven and up.

How to Use a Paintbrush with Watercolors

Dip the tip of the brush in the water and then in the paint. Rinse the brush thoroughly when switching colors. Change the rinse water frequently (which isn’t the same thing as providing a larger container of water). Have a rag or a stack of paper towels nearby to dab excess water off the brush. If using the same color, it isn’t necessary to dip the brush in the water between strokes.

At the end of a project, dip a clean paper towel over each cake of paint to absorb the excess water and mop up any dirty water. This way the paints will be clean for their next use. Show children how to clean up their paints at the end of a project. By age seven or eight, most children should be able to connect the act of cleaning up to the benefits of finding their supplies in the condition they wish to use them.

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.

Mona Lisa as Leonardo Painted Her: New Louvre-approved Images of Painting in CA Exhibition: An Overview

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa by Italian High Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is arguably the most recognizable image in the history of Western art. But did you know that the portrait originally had eyebrows? Mona Lisa Secrets Revealed (October 17-December 31, 2007), a new component of Da Vinci: An Exhibition of Genius (August 4-December 31, 2007) at San Francisco, California’s Metreon, reveals facts about the artist’s mysterious masterpiece heretofore unknown. Recent scientific studies sanctioned by France’s National Laboratory and Paris’ Musée du Louvre, the painting’s keeper, irrefutably confirm 25 discoveries about the composition’s original appearance.

Da Vinci: An Exhibition of Genius

This breathtaking interactive presentation, a decade in the making, surveys the wondrous accomplishments of painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist, anatomist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. The intellectual interests of this quintessential polymath included: fauna and flora; mathematics and geometry; physics and mechanics; civil, military and hydraulic machinery; flight; musical instruments; and philosophy. Taken from designs in some 6000 intact pages from his personal codices (notebooks), 65 of 120 full-scale modern recreations of Leonardo’s inventions are on display, many fabricated by Rome’s Anthropos Association using 15th-century Italian techniques and materials. Among those on view are da Vinci’s glider, parachute, ball bearing and gear systems, early helicopter and military tank, bicycle, automobile and submarine.

Also exhibited are remarkable color reproductions of many of Leonardo’s famous works of art: the Litta Madonna (ca. 1481-97); anatomical drawings; and preparatory sketches for the Battle of Anghiari (ca. 1503). They’re joined by interactive presentations on the Last Supper (ca. 1492/94-98), Vitruvian Man (ca. 1490) and Equestrian Monument to Francesco Sforza (1493), explaining the artist’s experiments and achievements in painting, drawing and sculpture.

Mona Lisa Secrets Revealed

This recent installation illustrates the work of Pascal Cotte for the first time in the United States. The passionate French engineer invented the 240-megapixel Multi-spectral Imaging Camera to take multiple photographs of Mona Lisa using patented infrared technology and intense illumination. Over an almost three-hour period, Cotte photographed the portrait, his session resulting in 13 original images. Two years of technical analysis allowed Cotte to document precisely what pigments Leonardo actually used, where the artist made changes to his composition and where restoration efforts have occurred. This innovative kind of photography permits the viewer to see Mona Lisa as it originally appeared. The show features a high-definition color recreation of Cotte’s work alongside an accurate replica of how the painting appears today. Oversized copies of the portrait and its various sections, enabling one to examine the painting better, are also on display. Its original blue sky, vibrant mountains, green trees and Mona Lisa’s pinkish face are now visible to the human eye.

Some of the verifiable revelations about the painting’s composition are startling.

  • The painting was never cut to be framed.
  • The top of the sky, sitter’s eyes and lips were restored.
  • Mona Lisa had eyebrows.
  • Glazes or glacis (semi-transparent layers of paint) in Mona Lisa’s veil reveal the order in which Leonardo painted the portrait.
  • The artist changed the position of the left hand’s index and middle fingers.
  • Her dress had lace that has vanished over time.
  • A blanket, rising above the wrist of Mona Lisa’s left hand that holds it, covers both her knees and stomach.

Thank you for reading this article! If you have any further questions about this topic please contact us.