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Using the Smudge Tool to Paint Impasto style in Photoshop

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  • Using the Smudge Tool to Paint Impasto style in Photoshop

    Here's a nifty method of "painting" in photoshop.

    Start off with what ever pic floats yer boat.

    Create a Pattern fill layer(Layer>New Fill Layer>Pattern...)preferably using a noise pattern(you can experiment). If you don't have , no prob, make your own as follows:
    Create a new 100*100*72 dpi file filled w/ medium gray(R=125,G=125,B=125) and a noise filter(gaussian monochrome) at 15% applied. Select>All, Edit>Define Pattern...)
    Then set the blend mode to overlay.

    Next you make ground layer which will "act" as your canvas. Fill it with a white or any other neutral color of your choice. Then turn the visibility off on the layer.

    Now we make the painting layer. You create a new layer and...nothing that's it no fills no nothing.

    So we have 4 layers now:
    1. Your original boat floatin pic.
    2 A noised pattern fill layer set to overlay mode
    3. A neutral color filled layer w/ visibility turned off
    4 A completely empty layer

    Your painting tool:
    What you'll use here is the smudge tool. Here are the settings
    Brush: Any of the natural media brushes work great so feel free to experiment
    Mode: Normal
    Strength: 100%
    Make sure "use all layers" is on and "fingerpainting" is off.

    Now stroke away. You'll find it a little tricky at first because the color is on the canvas and not your brush So you'll frquently find your colors "smushed together". Remember though you can erase any serious smushes with no effect ton the bottom 3 layers.

    Turn on the the ground(white filled) layer everyonce in awhile to check your progress(don't forget to turn it off again ). You don't have to worry about filling all the gaps either , you can use the regular paintbrush to paint in highlights, contrasting colors etc. directly on the ground layer.

    When you've got it to where you're happy we're now gonna give it some texture.

    With your painting layer selected create a new layer, then make a merged copy (Ctrl-Shift-Alt-E) of you painting. Desaturate it and run the emboss filter with the Amount slider topped out and the height slider around 3-5. Finally change the blend mode to Overlay.

    And there you have it. At hope some you out there get as much enjoyment out of this as I did the first time I did it. I've also included one of my first which happens to be the first Photo Art Challenge.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Thanks Etienne. I'll have to give that a try. It looks pretty good!



    • #3

      Results, technique and description are -- in a word -- AWESOME. And here I thought I was going to get something productive done today... Call me a moth drawn to the flickering flame of a killer new (to me) technique to try out!

      May I suggest / request you submit your results and technique (just copy/paste the text... it's fine) HERE, so they will be posted in the 'official' challenge gallery. This is too good to keep buried in a forum thread.

      Though you've only made a couple posts in your brief RetouchPro career, you've certainly made them blockbusters.

      Speaking for many, I'm sure...

      BIG THANKS. Don't stop.



      • #4

        To give credit where credit is due I got the technique out of the Photoshop 6 WOW book but I'm glad I could share it with the forum. As well I looking forward to some education as well, I seem to have stumbled on a slew fellow PS diehards.

        Cheers again,


        • #5
          OK... I'm a believer


          RE: Citing your info source
          A good thing to do and I appreciate you doing so. Found a pretty good Art History brush tutorial in that same book recently while browsing at Barnes and Noble. I've found the Photoshop and Painter WOW series to be worthy of the "WOW" in their names.


          Here's my first attempt at using this technique. Given I have no "real" artistic talent whatsoever (I can barely do realistic looking stick figures), this gives me a lot of hope!

          Frankly I got a little impatient with all the brush strokes (patience isn't one of my strong suits), and I fudged a little by not stroking over every square inch...but the potential for this technique is awesome.

          Most folks (myself included) poke around here to pickup tips here and there. This method is among the best I've seen anywhere. Conceptually it was as much a 'breakthrough' for me as when the layer mask light finally came on.

          Last and definitely least... after using PS for over a year, I've finally found a practical use for the Smudge tool!

          Again, thanks for sharing.

          Attached Files


          • #6

            Looks good Danny. Hey and Iknow what you mean about not being artistically inclined. The beauty of digital art is you "take back" almost every stroke you make. Unfortunately this can lead to somewhat obssesive behaviour heh heh.