Portraits of your favorite pets are a great way to show your creative talent using a photo of your furry friend. Painted portraits can seem so complicated that only experienced artists can try to create such projects. However, the tool Finger (smudge) of Photoshop makes the process so simple that even a beginner can achieve amazing results. In this tutorial, I will show you the whole process of photo retouching, which is suitable for portraits of pets, and then I will show you how to turn an image into a painted picture. It’s easy and fun!
A simple transformation of any photo into a painted picture often leads to mediocre results. This is because photographs often contain the natural chaos of the real world, while the painted pictures, as a rule, depict an idealized version of reality.
And this border between realism and idealism is very thin, but important. The paintings are intentional, each brush stroke is applied with a specific purpose. Photos also reflect the reality that surrounds us, whether it is a picturesque reality or not.
To achieve the best results when transforming any photo into a painted picture, you need to take this into account. Therefore, before you start creating a picture, you must almost always edit the photo.
Download the original dog image from the link at the beginning of this lesson. Open this image in Photoshop and you will notice a number of things that are not suitable for creating a perfect pet portrait. These are the straps that hang from above, including the leg of the chair, which distracts attention from the focus.
Using tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), create a rough selection around the leg of the chair. Next, go Editing – Fill (Edit> Fill) and in the window that appears, select Fill based on content (Content-Aware).
Click OK and Photoshop fill the selected pixels with new pixels taken from the background to hide the chair on the image!
Using the same technique, also remove the straps at the top of the photo. When you finish editing, remember to cancel the active selection. Selection – Deselect Selection (Select> Deselect (Ctrl + D).
Next, with the tool Spot Healing Brush (Spot Healing Brush Tool (J), hide minor defects, spots that can spoil the picture when working with the tool Finger (smudge). In this case, in our photo, you can clean a few spots on the nose.
Create a new layer, name this layer. Black eye (Eye Black) and using the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), paint over the outer contour of the eyeballs. Perhaps this will confuse you, but the result of the correction will be worth it.
Using tool Pen (Pen Tool (P), draw a crescent shape on the iris. As a fill color, apply a soft brown tint (# c07c3e). The created shape will eventually be softened during the retouching process, so don’t worry too much about precision shape creation.
To the iris layer, we will add layer styles to give the iris a more natural look. To do this, double click on the layer Iris (Eye Shape) to apply the following layer styles.
Add a layer style Inner shadow (Inner Shadow) with the following settings:
- Uncheck the box Global coverage (Use Global Light)
- Angle(Angle): -79
- The size (Size): 10 px
Add a layer style Internal glow (Inner Glow) with the following settings:
- Opacity (Opacity): 53%
- A source (Source): From the center (Center)
- Tightening (Choke): 15%
- The size (Size): 8 px
Add a layer style Pattern overlay (Pattern Overlay) with the following settings:
- Blend mode (Blend Mode): Glow (Luminosity)
- Opacity (Opacity): 48%
- Pattern (Pattern): Streaks
- Scale (Scale): 65%
Finally, Add a layer style. Shadow (Drop Shadow) with the following settings:
- Blend mode (Blend Mode): Lightening (Screen)
- Colour: # d79356
- Uncheck the box Global coverage (Use Global Light)
- Angle (Angle): -119
- Bias (Distance): 4 px
- The size (Size): 4 px
Now the iris should look more vibrant.
Next, with the tool Move (Move Tool (V), hold the (Alt) key + drag the iris shape to the second eye.
In painted pictures, colors are usually richer than in photographs, therefore, we go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Vibration (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Vibrance). Set the value Vibrations (Vibrance) at +88 to add deep color saturation to our image.
You can add a bit of pink to your nose. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation). Tick in the box Toning (Colorize), and also set the following values:
- Color tone (Hue): 359
- Saturation (Saturation): 33
- Brightness (Lightness): -13
Next, go to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), just click on it. Now go Editing – Run Fill (Edit> Fill) and select Fill content (Contents) black color. Fill the layer mask of this adjustment layer with black to hide the effect of the correction.
Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Set the foreground color to white. In the brush settings, select a soft round brush, brush size 40 px, Rigidity (Hardness) brush 50%.
Now, using the selected brush, paint the dog’s nose on the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Color tone / Saturation(Hue / Saturation) so that the correction reappears in the nose area. Reduce the opacity of this adjustment layer to 68%.
Next, let’s enhance the blue shades of the carpet. Add another adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). In the drop-down menu shades, select a shade Blue (Blues), and also apply the following settings:
- Color tone (Hue): -29
- Saturation (Saturation): +60
- Brightness(Lightness): +21
Now select all the layers, for this we go Allotment – Everything layers(Select> All Layers) or press the keys (Alt + Ctrl + A), and then convert the selected layers into a smart object, for this we go Layer– Smart-Objects – convert at Smart-an object(Layer> Smart Objects> Convert to Smart Objects). Name the new layer ‘Pet Portrait Retouch’.
The picture after processing with your finger will look great if at first you hide all the small details in the image. Let’s go Filter – Blur – Smart Blur (Filter> Blur> Smart Blur). Apply the following settings.
- Radius (Radius): 2.0
- Threshold (Threshold): 50.0
- Quality(Quality): High(High)
Next, go Filter – Plastic (Filter> Liquify) and use the tool Bloating (Bloat Tool). Set the brush size slightly larger than the dog’s eye and just click a few times to slightly enlarge the eyeball. Do the same for the second eye.
At the moment, the nose looks slightly distorted. While we are in the filter window Plastics (Liquify), apply the tool Deformation (Forward Warp Tool (W) to correct the shape of the nose. Try to deform the nose into a more upright position.
2. Basics of Working with the Finger Tool (Smudge Tool)
So, we have prepared a photo, now we are ready to transform our photo into a painted picture, now we need to adjust the tool Finger (Smudge Tool) to properly blur pixels. I want to share with you one interesting detail about the tool. Finger ( smudge brush), this tool tends to ignore low opacity layer settings. Someone sees a glitch in this program, but we use this feature that will help us create the effect of a painted picture.
Reduce the opacity of the Портрет Pet Portrait Retouch ’layer to 15%. The image of the dog should be barely visible. Next, create a new layer on top of the dog image, name this layer Base smear (Basic Smudge).
Choose a tool Finger (Smudge Tool). If in the toolbar, you do not see this tool, then click on the tool icon Blur (Blur Tool) + hold the mouse button until the tool menu appears. In the menu that appears, select the tool Finger (Smudge Tool). Next, in the brush settings, click on the icon in the upper right corner and in the window that appears, select the ‘My Brushes’ brushes.
In the window that appears, click To add (Append). This way you add brushes to your standard brush set.
In the brush set window, scroll down the entire list of brushes to the very end where the added brushes will be located. Choose a brush Soft Oil Pastel, brush size 36 px. Next, go to the settings panel of the brush (F5). Select an option Dynamics forms(Shape Dynamics). Set the following values.
Size fluctuation (Size Jitter) Control (Control): Pen pressure (Pen Pressure) (if you are using a graphics tablet, if not, just ignore this setting)
Angle swings (Angle Jitter) Control (Control): Initial direction (Initial Direction)
Next, select the option Broadcast(Transfer). Set the following values.
Intensity fluctuation (Strength Jitter) Control (Control: Pen pressure (Pen Pressure) (if you are using a graphics tablet, if not, just ignore this setting).
This is a truly magical technique. Choose a tool Finger (Smudge Tool), in the settings of this tool, select the mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layers), this means that the tool will use pixel information from the underlying layer, even if this layer is almost invisible. The tool does not pay attention to the opacity settings and “sees” the layer in full.
So, brushing the image, we will create smeared brush strokes that extract color pixels from the photo, without actually processing the brush on the photo!
Observe the natural direction of the wool, catching the main features of the four-pet. Be attentive to the natural contours, do not paint over them with a brush.
Create a new layer right on top of the photo layer, name this layer. Smearing background (Background Smudge). We use this layer to stain areas that are out of focus.
The only difference when painting the background is the size of the brush. The size of the brush should be significantly larger in order to apply brush strokes containing less details. I suggest setting a brush size somewhere between 200 px and 250 px.
Spread the background with your finger. Along the edges of the main strokes, be careful, brush with the brush towards the edge, and not to the side, or further, you may accidentally smudge the basic original strokes.
3. Detailing at Work with the Finger Tool (Smudge Tool)
So, the basic work with smearing with a finger is completed, the time has come to switch attention to the fine details. This is what really helps to transform the image, so that the image looks like a picture, and not just like a filter. Some details, such as the nose and eyes, may need less attention to improve the details.
Disable layer visibility Base smear (Basic Smudge) and Smearing background (Background Smudge layers). Create a new layer on top of all other layers, name this layer. Smearing details (Smudge Details). Set the opacity for the photo layer to 75%. For tool Finger (Smudge Tool), install Intensity (Strength) 75%, and also reduce the size to about 20 px. Next, gently circle the small details of the nose to create a more contrast version of the blur.
Disable mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layers), but turn on mode Finger drawing (Finger Painting). This mode initially puts paint on the canvas, and then spreads this paint. Set the brush color to black, reduce the brush size to 10 px. Strengthen the dark areas around the iris. (Translator’s Note: the author slightly increases the area of the black pupil). Change the brush color to a light orange tint # a86f2d. Add a bright area to the crescent of the iris in the lower left.
Disable mode Finger drawing (Finger Painting) and re-enable mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layers). Reduce the brush size to 5 px. Apply short strokes, radiating from the pupil to create a small texture in the area of the iris.
Re-enable mode Finger drawing (Finger Painting) to add some white dots reflected from the light source. These small highlights create the feeling that the eyes are wet and alive.
Translator’s Note: do not forget to turn off mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layers).
To complete the second eye, use the same technique. Be attentive to the direction of the light, so that the same light source is reflected in the eyes.
To give the wool a more realistic fur texture, for this purpose, let’s create our own brush. Let’s go File – New (File> New) to create a new document. Set the following sizes to 100 px across the width (Width) and 100 px by height (Height) resolution (resolution) 300 dpi.
Using a soft round brush, brush size 5 px, apply a few small dots, creating a dense but arbitrary pattern.
Next, go Editing – Define a brush (Edit> Define Brush). Name our brush ‘Fur’. This brush will now appear in the brush set at the very end of the list. You can close a document with drawn dots without saving.
Go back to our working paper and select the tool. Finger (Smudge Tool). In the settings of this tool, now specify the ‘Fur’ brush that we created. Reduce the brush size to about 25 px. set the value Intensity (Strength) 75%. Turn on mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layer). Disable mode Finger drawing (Finger Painting). Create a new layer to create a fur texture. Carefully apply strokes on the transition areas to create small tufts of wool.
During the smearing of wool, you can change the angle of the brush. The easiest way to change the angle is to simply right-click on the document and, in the brush settings window that appears, set the angle you need.
Next, create a new layer for individual strands of wool. Name this layer Separate wool strands (Single Strands). Using a soft round brush, brush size 4 px, turn off mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layers), and turn on the mode Finger drawing (Finger Painting). Set the value Intensity (Strength) 95%. Brush color is light gray # dfdbd8. Very thin and smooth strokes, draw individual hairs for the whiskers, separate hair strands on the eyebrows, as well as separate tufts of hair in the ears.
4. Final Strokes
At this stage, the main work of the brush is completed. We are almost done! The only thing left is to hold a series of final touches. They are not mandatory, but they will transform the final look of our picture!
Create a new layer on top of the photo layer, name this layer. White (White). To fill with white, go Editing – Run Fill (Edit> Fill), fill the new layer with white.
Create a new layer on top of all other layers, name this layer. Edge smearing (Edge Smudge). Select brush again Soft Oil Pastel, set the brush size to 150 px, turn on the mode Sample of all layers (Sample All Layers). Do not forget to turn off the mode Finger drawing (Finger Painting). Brush the edge of the image along the transition between the drawn image and the white background.
As a result, we soften the edges of the image, and the image will look more like a painted picture.
Create a merged layer, while on the topmost layer, press the keys (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E). Name the merged layer Combined (Merge). Change the blending mode for the merged layer to Soft light (Soft Light) to highlight colors and lower the layer opacity to 50% to soften the effect a little.
Create a new layer on top of the merged layer, name this layer. Canvas (Canvas). Go again Editing – Run Fill (Edit> Fill) and select the fill. gray 50% (50% Gray). Next, change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), so gray fill will become invisible.
Next, go Filter– Gallery of filters(Filter> Filter Gallery) and select the folder Textures(Texture). Choose a filter Texturizer (Texturizer) and apply the following settings:
- Texture(Texture): Canvas(Canvas)
- Scale(Scaling): 132%
- Relief(Relief): 4
- Shine(Light): Top(Top)
With the help of this filter, we will add a light canvas texture to our picture, this will reinforce the feeling that the picture was drawn, and not the filter was applied to the photo.
To make the canvas look more realistic, it should not be white. Double click on the layer Canvas (Canvas) to apply layer styles. Add a layer style Color overlay (Color Overlay). Set the following settings for this layer style.
- Blend mode (Blend Mode): Multiplication (Multiply)
- Colour: # fff9e8
You can see the final result in the screenshot below!
Congratulations! We have completed the lesson!
Thank you for being with me until the end of the lesson. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.