Replicate traditional artistic landscape styles using step-by-step walkthroughs. Turn your photos into realistic looking paintings in the style of Turner, Canaletto and the Impressionists. Part one - the Italian Landscape.

The Italian landscape

By the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th Century, secular themes had become increasingly popular, even in southern Europe. Canaletto was the most famous Venetian painter of the era and worked mostly in Venice, but also in England.

His images are luminous and meticulously detailed, thought to be the result of his use of a camera obscura – a darkened box or tent featuring a lens and mirrors that projected the intended subject of the painting onto a sheet of paper, allowing the draughtsman to trace the object.

Canaletto’s paintings always seem rather dark. They show remarkably bright scenes with full sunlight bouncing off canals or rivers, but they appear a bit dull, with obvious cracks. It may be a deliberate tonal choice on the part of the artist, or that his soft colours just show the signs of aging more than earlier, darker paintings.

Whatever the cause, these qualities can be imitated in Photoshop and are easy to apply to all types of “Old Masters”.



This Las Vegas casino seemed a good substitute for Canaletto’s Venice. Why waste time creating artificial textures when you can just scan in a real one such as this envelope, apply a Hue/Saturation or Levels adjustment, and then drag it into your image?


1. Open the original image. To add some clouds, hold down the Alt/Opt key and click the “Create a new layer” icon in the Layers palette. From the Mode drop- down menu, pick Lighten – anything painted on this layer will only be visible if it is lighter than the underlying image.


2. Set Photoshop’s foreground colour to a pale yellow that is noticeably lighter than the sky.


3. The background colour should be a shade of blue similar to the sky, but a shade darker. Click the background colour on Photoshop’s Toolbar and use the Eyedropper to sample a pixel. Then, in the Colour Picker, move the marker directly down.


4. Use the Lasso tool to make a cloud- shaped selection and soften its edges by pressing Alt/Opt + Ctrl/Cmd + D. In the Feather Selection dialog box, enter a radius of at least 20.


5. Go to Filter > Render > Clouds and review the result. If you don’t like it, simply press Ctrl/ Cmd + F to run the filter again.


6. Feel free to allow clouds to go over a building, then create a layer mask for the Cloud layer. Temporarily switch back to the background layer, pick the Magic Wand tool and use it to select the sky, then activate the Clouds layer again and click the “Add layer mask” icon.


7. One way to add some aging cracks to the picture is to use the Craquelure filter. Hold the Alt/Opt and click the “Create a new layer” icon, this time with its blending mode set to Darken and with “Fill with Overlay-neutral Color” ticked.


8. Select an area to damage but don’t feather the selection’s edges. Reset Photoshop’s foreground and background colours (shortcut D) and choose Select > Texture > Craquelure and experiment with the sliders.



9. The crack effect is probably too strong, so reduce the layer’s opacity. Other ways to make it less regular are to use the Eraser tool randomly, or distort it with Filter > Distort > Wave, or Edit > Transform > Warp.


10. To give the painting an underlying texture, double-click the image layer so it is no longer a locked background, drag the envelope texture image (or other texture file) into the picture, and reduce the image layer’s opacity.


11. At the top of the layer stack, add a new Curves adjustment layer to reduce the picture’s contrast. Drag the bottom-left point up a little so there won’t be true blacks in the picture, and drag the top-right point down to take out the highlights.


12. To colour the picture in the style of Canaletto, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. You should aim for strong yellows and cyans, so examine each colour separately. Here, I selected Cyan and increased its Saturation.



13. Finally, make the image look more like a painting. First, merge the layers, holding down the Alt/Opt key, clicking the small black arrow at the top of the Layers palette, and selecting Merge Visible from the drop-down menu. Then apply Filter > Artistic > Paint Daubs. Don’t use settings that are too high, unless you want the picture to appear Impressionistic. A small brush size combined with a higher Sharpness setting works best.


The Las Vegas casino will probably be demolished and replaced before it has time to grow old, but aging this photograph is easy in Photoshop.


This article was extracted from Photoshop Fine Art Cookbook by John Beardsworth. This book is highly recommended by Digit, and is available, now, at a retail price of £14.35 from ILEX, the digital creative’s publisher of choice.

Photoshop Fine Art Cookbook reveals all you need to know to turn your original digital photographs into stunning images that emulate the styles of great photographers and painters. It’s an essential guide to becoming a master of image manipulation and offers scores of detailed workthroughs.

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