One of the new features included in Adobe Photoshop CS6 is the oil painting filter which transforms a photograph into an oil painting look-alike.  The changes don’t actually involve oil paints or pigments, just simulated brush strokes which can be added in lots of different sizes, angles, and degrees of heavy-handedness.

Recently I’ve written here about my experiments with what I called the “Monet Effect” in which I filmed surface reflections of new spring foliage in Heart Lake under the influence of gentle breezes which caused the slightest rippling of the water surface.  This example was rotated 180 degrees so that the reflection now seems right-side-up, and the slight rippling gives the image a “painterly” look because of the slight rippling of the water surface.

I decided to apply the oil painting filter from Adobe Photoshop CS6 to this painting to see how the enhanced brush stroke effect would compare to the “Monet Effect” created by the ripples.  The effect is striking, particularly in the foliage area of the photo.  Discussion of this new feature in CS6 suggests that areas with greater detail respond more pleasingly to this filter than do large monochrome areas which have little detail, such as the reflection of the sky in this example.

I also applied the filter to another photograph, a sunrise shot I took last Saturday morning from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain.  This sunrise shot is one I like a great deal, and I wanted to see whether the oil painting filter would improve the artistic quality of the shot.

The photograph has large sky areas with little detail as well as areas with detailed foliage, so this photo offers a challenge for the filter.  The effect of the oil painting filter is to render the image as if it were printed or painted on canvas with visible brush strokes.  One can adjust the various parameters in the CS6 filter to give different brush stroke sizes and angles and different reflectivity of the simulated oil paint layers so that a number of different effects can be generated.  This new feature of Adobe Photoshop CS6 provides the tools to create a variety of wall art with many different simulated oil painting effects.

About Tom

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Appalachian State University.
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