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Painting tips from Karen Sperling

200506bc_sperling01_1 Traditional art concepts
If you want to give your photos a painterly touch, whether you use Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter, or both, knowing some traditional art concepts can help.

For instance, there are millions of random colors in an average photo, so the more you limit the colors, the more your image will look like a painting.

That’s why just cloning an image, where you paint brush strokes using the colors from the photo, really doesn't make the photo look painterly.

Instead, choose a color scheme in which the colors are related to one another and repeat throughout the painting, creating what's called color harmony.

A simple rule for choosing colors is to pick one color and its complement, meaning the color opposite it on the color wheel. If you want to add more colors, I find including the complement pairings gives the image a pleasing look.

200506bc_sperling02_1 In this painting, I used varying shades of blue-green and red-orange, opposites on the color wheel. Notice I chose blue-green for the shadows, like on the girl's arm and in the guy's jacket, creating color harmony.

When adding painterly touches to your photos, sometimes knowing a few art concepts can get you further than knowing a zillion software tools!

Artist, author and photographer Karen Sperling is the original Painter expert. She wrote the manuals for the first several versions of Painter and authored several Painter books and many Painter magazine tutorials. Sperling teaches Painter to artists and photographers at movie companies, design firms, universities and professional photography organizations. She currently publishes Artistry Corel Painter tutorials and Artistry Tips and Tricks newsletter, and leads Artistry Corel Painter Retreats, all of which include information about art concepts in addition to Painter instructions. She paints commissioned portraits, and her Painter art has been displayed in several group shows. Karen's art, and information about her tutorials and classes, can be found at