Painting software for the digital artist

Not so long ago, turning a photograph into something that looked painterly required a lot of technical know-how with feature-rich, complicated software. New generations of photo editing software make the process both quick and fun.

The versions below are just a quick show and tell, with encouragement for you to check out the amazing variety of software on the market. If you have favourite apps, please feel free to list them in the comments. This is still new to me, and I’m feeling like the proverbial kid in the candy box. (These were all edited on a Mac laptop. Tablets and smartphones have a dizzying number of apps for doing similar things.)

The top photo looks almost exactly the way it did when it came out of the camera. I removed the haze, which greys the RAW photos from my old Nikon DSL 80. I bumped up the colour only slightly, as the sunny day had already turned the leaves vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow.

red/orange bushes frame a stone-filled waterfall


The edit below was done in Photoshop, with three different layers from the Filter Gallery (watercolor, accented edges, and dry brush). I could have played with it until I had a more painterly effect, but I wanted to compare what could be done in a matter of a few minutes, using three different applications.

The second one was edited in On1 Effects.

The last one was run through Topaz Impressions.


To my eyes, the Topaz edit looks most like a painting, but I also like the kind of mottled effect of the On1 edit. I’d be interested in what others think.

Using painterly edits opens so many possibilities for digital artistry. And that whole, enchanting field has captured my imagination since I’ve discovered artists such as Even Liu, Nicole Wild, August Naude, and Caroline Julia Moore.



  2 comments for “Painting software for the digital artist

  1. Sterling Haynes
    January 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm


Your comments keep me blogging!

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