The first steps are pretty obvious, I first opened Van Gogh's The Starry Night and then opened an image of Superman, copied it and pasted it onto it's own layer. I then masked out the parts of the Superman image I didn't need leaving just his figure. Good news for those who hate masking-you don't have to be super precise (pardon the pun) as you do on some images.
Your next step is to apply an artistic filter. If you're thinking-"Ah-that's the trick" you're wrong. There is no Van Gogh filter. We will be actually painting much the way he did if he had a computer. The purpose of this step is to simplify the colors and to act as an "underpainting" for our next step. So, go to "Filter" then "Artistic" then "smudge stick". You can play around with the numbers or even find another artistic filter that suits you better. Again, we'll be painting over most of it-in this piece, the eyes were pretty much all that showed through.
Now we are going to create a new layer above the Superman layer where we'll do most of the painting. You are first going to apply a layer style as shown in the screen captures:
[Edited by User on 2/22/2011 7:55:11 PM]
Now that your layer style is applied-let the fun begin. Pick a round brush at 100% hardness and opacity in normal blending mode. You will want one about the size of the brush stokes in the original Van Gogh painting. You will want to zoom in pretty tight as you work. Then click the eyedropper tool and sample some color from Superman and then switch back to your brush and paint a short brush stroke. As I am on a Macintosh, I have my left thumb on the apple or command key and by pressing it, it toggles it back to the eyedropper-then a quick click release and it's back to my brush with the new color selected. I am Windows illiterate but I guess the key for you would be Alt. You'll quickly get in a rhythm and you may paint a few strokes between clicks. Keep them close together if not touching. Here I've started on the face:
[Edited by User on 2/28/2011 12:58:09 PM]
Continue on with the body. I did all my painting on a single layer but for this tutorial I'm just focusing on the face as I'm doing it over from scratch. Now you have kind of a mosaic looking thing which is kind of cool but not quite there yet. Once you have all your strokes done, you'll want to switch to the smudge tool. You'll use a brush the same size or slightly larger than what you were painting with but change its strength to 45% and its hardness to 50%. You'll then start to smudge your strokes together. The idea is to not completely destroy what you've done but to keep it from looking to uniform. You want to keep some of the highlights and shadows that are caused by your layer effect but not make it too obvious. You're aiming for something like this:
Here's a shot from my original document after I finished all the strokes and subsequent smudging (I added a black background for clarity only)
At this point, I wasn't quite satisfied. I looked at some of Van Gogh's self portraits to get an idea of how he applied highlights and for more insight into his rendering style. I created a new layer, set it's blending mode to overlay, sampled some of the yellow from the stars in the painting and with a round brush painted in some highlights. I picked up some purple from the sky and did the same thing on another layer. Having separate layers allowed me to play with the opacity of each individually. Finally I created a third layer set to normal in which I did a semi outline based on the way Van Gogh rendered the buildings in the background. Here are those 3 layers.
Here is where we are with it all put together. To be honest, at this point I didn't know whether to submit it or throw it in the trash-something was just not right to me. A good tip is to get a second pair of eyes on it so I sent what I had to fellow Worthian SteveRS for his feedback. He immediately pointed out that it seemed to blurry, needed some contrast and color adjustments. For once in his life, he was right!! (Just kidding-he's been right at least once before)[Edited by User on 3/2/2011 12:56:40 PM]
So the next step is to do just that. Got to image-adjustments-brightness/contrast and bump the contrast up a bit(move slider to the right). Then image-adjustments-Hue/Saturation then I lowered the saturation a bit as the colors were just too vibrant for the rest of the painting. I'm not giving you values as those numbers are variable but dependent on the image you are using. The last step was to sharpen the image so filter then sharpen. Repeat the sharpen 2-3 times. You'll begin to see a little bit of a pixelar distortion (I don't know if that's a real term but I just made it up) around some of your edges. This actually helps bring out the individual strokes and gives it a 3D pallet knife look to it. If the distortion gets too bad-you can just back up one sharpen or if it's just a few spots, you can smudge or blur those a bit with a small brush.
OK. There you have it. Here's the finished product. Have fun painting.
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