Orchid Painting

15 03 2010

No, I am not a painter. I did several fantasy doodles in my teen years but that’s all. Yet what you can see below is a painting of our blooming orchid. Well, it’s not a painting really, it’s a photo which I wanted to convert to something that would look like as much as a real oil painting as possible. Was I successful? Click on the photo to enlarge it and judge for yourself.

~ Phalaenopsis Twins ~
1/3 and 1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/11, ISO 100, 2 stacked images

Now I’d like to share some information about why and how it was done. If you are interested, read on 🙂

I took this photo of two orchid blossoms a month ago and made only basic processing – stacked 2 images, which I had to take to have both blossoms sharp, plus a series of common adjustments (saturation, contrast, retouching, cloning the unwanted part of stem out etc.) The problem was that the photo was taken against a black background and it was a bit, well, boring. You can see the enhanced original photo on the right side. I put the image aside as I didin’t exactly know how to make it more interesting. I was thinking about using some texture overlay but was not really striving for it. I posted some other photos, for example these from the same session, and I came back to this photo only couple days ago. I decided to browse flickr pages for some free textures and stuck on amazing painted textures by clive sax. Even before I saw them I was playing with a thought of converting this photo into a painting and when I saw clive’s outstanding golden texture I knew that I want to match the texture with this photo and produce something that will look as close to the real painting as possible.

After an hour of searching the net for some useful tutorial on converting photos into paintings and another appx. 6 hours of playing with filters and blending modes in photoshop I got it.

To sum the process up, I did following steps:

  1. complete post-processing of the original photo (contrast, levels, saturation, sharpness, cloning etc.) in Lightroom 2.5 and Photoshop CS 4 (PS),
  2. applying the Golden Texture 2 by clive sax (thanks Clive!) as a new layer over the photo in PS,
  3. carefully erasing the texture to uncover the photo behind it,
  4. aplying gaussian blur on the background layer to take DOF into play,
  5. flattening the image so the next processing will affect both the photo and the background, giving it a uniform look,
  6. following excellent tutorial on photoshopessentials.com (to make it short it consists of adding saturation, applying Glass filter [Filter/Distort/Glass], Paint Daubs filter [Filter/Artistic/Paint Daubs], Angled strokes filter [Filter/Brush Strokes/Angled Strokes], Texturizer filter [Filter/Texture/Texturzer] and applying emboss overlay to make the brush strokes more plastic). This was the most difficult part as I had to find out the set up of filters which will look best.

And that’s it. One important thing is that a photo processed this way can’t be resized much with awaiting that it will still look great. The best way is to resize the original photo before the step 6 and then do the step 6 on the resized image. You will very probably need to tweak the settings of filters again to match it resized image. You can see comparison of 100% cropped original photo after step 5 and after step 6 on the left side. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

I hope you liked this post and image.

Enjoy the early spring!

Technical information: the photo was taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens upon tripod, indoors, under natural light.




14 responses

16 03 2010
Anita Bower

i think you did a fantastic job with this image, which was really good to start with. beautiful result. thank you for detailed explanation of how you did this, and for links.

how did you deal with the blck bg?

17 03 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thank you, Anita. If you ask how I erased the black bg I used the flower photo as 1st layer in PS and texture as 2nd layer. Then I erased the texture over the flower very carefully, especially on the verge of the blossoms. I think that I worked with quite small brush size with 0% hardness and in cases where the bg was a bit visible I cloned it over with the texture. It’s the same technique you use, too. Is this the answer you were looking for?

Btw, how is your wrist? Is it better?

17 03 2010
Anita Bower

thanks for answer. i usually use a blending mode with textures that allows some of the bg to show. you were most patient in your work.

i go in thi morning for surgery to put in a metalplate to hold wrist bones together do they can heal. am doing well.

22 03 2010
Bernie Kasper

Beautiful Tomas, what a wonderful piece of art you have created here, and thanks for your work flow as well !!

22 03 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks, Bernie! I’m glad to see you here again. And I’m glad you like it.

23 03 2010
Barbara Kile

The image is gorgeous! You did an expert job of painting to reveal the orchids (especially considering you had a black background and normal blending mode.) Your painting technique reveals a work of art for sure! Thanks for the links and technique! You’re a real trooper! I rarely take flower portraits on black bg because I do texture &/or color work. Well done!

23 03 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks, Barbara! Such kind words are a big compliment to me 🙂

31 03 2010

Good morning Tomas,

First off, excellent post. I like the way you walked through the work flow. That is something I am incorporating in my new blog “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary!” (itsmynature.wordpress.com).

I been looking at this image and must say that I am still not 100% sold on the background. The yellow does pick up the little yellow in the orchid and I like that. But to me, the background overwhelms the delicate little yellow in the flower and seems to clash with the pink. But that may just be me. I would certainly defer to the opinions of Anita and Barbara here since this is much more representative of their style than mine.

2 04 2010
Tomas Turecek

Hi Ed. Thank you for your comment. I must admit that I found the background a bit overwhelming, too. It was my first attempt on this kind of processing and when I saw the result I was simply amazed. And I liked the vivid colours. When I look at it now I can see it a bit more realistically. Actually, I reworked this image using Alien Skin’s “Snap Art 2” plugin for Photoshop and using imapsto preset. The background saturation was decreased a bit and I think that the image looks more compactly. You can see it here. I know that what I create these days is more and more different from your techniques and the more I apreciate your visits and comments. Since the begining of this year I’m drawn to more artistic creations.

2 04 2010
White Hyacinth – oil on canvas « Close Nature

[…] processing. Right now I am intrigued by paintings made from photos such as the one I presented in previous post. The newest one, of white Hyacinth, is here (click to see it […]

11 04 2010

I think flowers always work nice with textures. I know Anita is a pro at this now. It looks pretty good for a first try – I think the key is the process that you go through to create it – as you work it more on other images, you begin to tune it in further and further.

15 04 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks for encouraging words, Mark. I hope that the dreadful weather that we have here in these days will get better and I’ll catch some flowers yet in bloom.

1 07 2010
Diehl Art Gallery

Beautiful work and colors. Keep up the great work!

6 07 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks John! I really appreciate it!

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