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Digital Painting from Poser Renders

Author: momodot

Tools Needed

* Poser and an image editing program such as Photoshop.


The essence of making a digital painting from a photo or Poser render is to separate the contours, color, and values of an image in order to manipulate and abstract them; then creative brush strokes are used to make the image more “painterly”. These methods work best with images where the most important element is over 300 pixels to a side but here is a render where I have scaled up a figure with a 40 pixel wide face, created the drawing layer which was somewhat thick and lacking in detail, and used a small brush with black and white to refine the detail and create drawing-like strokes. For the beginner it is best to work with a render of something like a face that is 300 or 400 pixels wide.


Step 1: Setting-up


Open your render in Photoshop and create the following layers:

  1. Duplicate “background” layer, re-name “drawing”, set to 100% opacity “normal”.
  2. Select background layer and create a new blank layer above it. Name this layer “color” and set 70% opacity “overlay”.
  3. Select background layer and create a new blank layer above it. Name this layer “paint” and set 100% opacity “normal”.
  4. Select background layer and create a duplicate layer above it. Name this layer “cut-out” and set 100% opacity “luminosity”.

Step 2: "Drawing"


We will begin on the uppermost layer by extracting the contours of the scene; otherwise known as creating a drawing…

  1. Image/Adjustments/De-saturate the “drawing” layer and run the Filter/Texture/Grain.
  2. Apply Filter/Stylize/Diffuse/Anisotropic. You may want to adjust the levels at this point.
  3. Set layer method to “darken”.

Step 3: Simplify


We will use the Photoshop Artistic/Cutout filter to abstract the image before starting to paint. Play with the sliders but try to get big flat areas, it may look best if the planes of color don't stay in the lines. You might want to play with the smudge tool on this layer.

Step 4: "Painting"


Now go to the paint layer and create a nice brush, I would choose a mid-sized spatter brush with the settings shown in the image here, and begin painting.

A nice effect is obtained by clicking the “alt” key to pick up color from the layer below (this can be done without switching layers) and if you have your color picker set to Hue/Saturation/Brightness it is easy to make small changes to the sampled color.

When you have something you like you can start to paint more broadly with colors from the picker swatches and use the smudge tool set to 'use all layer' if you like.

If you feel you are losing important shading from your original render go back to the background layer and make a duplicate. Drag this to the top of the layers and apply Filter/Stylize/Diffuse/Anisotropic. Now turn down the opacity until you have just the amount of the original render that you want to re-establish.

Step 5: Glaze


On your “glaze” layer you can change your colors by applying color washes over it. This can change the mood and give a sense of depth to the image. Remember you can adjust the opacity of the brush while you are working by using the number keys.

Step 6: Flatten


Go to each layer and erase anything you don't like, smudge any shapes or edges that don't look right and add any paint that might be needed. Flatten your painting.

Step 7: Texture


You can add brush texture by

  1. Making a duplicate of your file, de-saturating it, saving it to your desktop as a .PSD file.
  2. Going back to your flattened painting and duplicating the background layer.
  3. Applying the Filter/Textures/Texture filter to the new layer selecting the .PSD from the desktop as the texture and using a relief setting of maybe 20 or more depending on the scale of your image.
  4. You can run the filter again to increase the texture and you can change the opacity of the textured layer to reduce it. A soft eraser brush can be used on the texture layer to remove texture selectively; important in places where it just looks wrong or seems to be pressed down into the images rather than embossed in it. The healing brush can fix bad transitions between smooth and raised or depressed texture.
  5. Flatten the image.

Step 8: Touch-up


Create a new empty layer above the texture layer and do any last minute fixes and touch up with the paint brush. Flatten the image. Run Filter/Sharpen/Sharpen and then use the fade command on it to get it just right, nice and subtle, fading to “darken” method might be appropriate. Run Filter/texture/Texturizer with the burlap texture scaled down as far as it will go then use the fade command at about 50%.

Step 9: Results


Hopefully you have something nice but expect the process to take some practice.

Above are several “paintings” from the same render.

Step 10: Make Art