Van Gogh Style

I honestly don’t think that I have ever met anyone that isn’t a fan of Vincent Van Gogh. I’m sure that someone is out there, but where are you hiding at. Van Gogh never saw what he became or what he did to change the art world. He started painting at the age of 28 and died at 37, only selling one painting. That is so hard to believe. Anyhow, I’m not here to give you a lecture on Van Gogh but to teach how to re-create his style using Photoshop. Recreating his most famous still life painting,
Sunflowers with a little dab from Starry Night. Sounds fun right?

To get started, I had to find a nice picture with a sunflower. Here is the image that I will be using. You can use the same or find one of your own.

Step 1 – Separation

To do this, we are first going to have to erase the white background from the image so that we can put our own background behind it and make the sunflower look proper. As in my past tutorials, I will be using a "Quick Mask". Instead of telling how to do it here in this tutorial, I will refer you back to my "Quick Mask 101" tutorial.

Quick Mask 101

Once you have your "Quick Mask" completed create a new layer underneath it. Use ALT+BACKSPACE (win) / OPTION+DELETE (mac) to fill it with the colour #95C0BC. You don’t have to use the same colours that I do here. Van Gogh used blues, golds, mustards, browns, it’s up to you.

Step 2 – Twirl!

Click the "Eye" beside the sunflower layer to hide it. We won’t be needing it for awhile. Select your paintbrush "B". The size doesn’t matter here. I’m using a 13pt brush and the colour #B4DEE0. This is easy just paint some lines, like so…

Now use the "Marquee" tool "M" and make a small selection.


Filter > Distort > Twirl

I’m going to show you the settings that I use but feel free to play around.


You will notice in the preview that only the area that you selected is being affected. Once you hit OK, that area will be twirled. This process is going to be repeated all over for the background. Make sure that your "Marquee" tool is still selected in
the toolbar and move it around the palette.

Use CTRL (win) / COMMAND (mac)+ F to reapply the filter.


Repeat this over and over til you are happy with the background. You can use different selection sizes to make larger twirls, use different twirl settings & you can always paint more lines to get more coverage. Here is what mine looks like.

Step 3 – The Vase

Turn your layer containing the sunflower back on. In this step, we are going work on the vase. First things first, make it a selection. I’m going to use my "Polygonal Lasso" tool.

Once you have your selection use the shortcut CTRL+J (win) / COMMAND+J (mac). This will make a copy of the selection on put it on it’s own layer.

Step 4 – Turn It Into A Painting
Now that you have the vase on it’s own layer, it’s time to use a couple of filters to change the look of it. The first one that we are going to use is "Paint Daubs".

Filter > Artistic > Paint Daubs

Here are the settings that I used but feel free to use your own. The purpose of this filter is to create texture that will come out in the next step.

Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges

Depending on what you want your painting to looks like, vary the edge thickness & intensity here.

Now its coming along. Next we want to add a little colour to the vase, mainly because Van Gogh was a bold user of colour, so small we. We will be doing this painting on a separate layer so hold down your CTRL (win) / COMMAND (mac) and click on the layer with the vase. This will create a selection of the vase that we will use as an outline in the new layer, that we create above it.

Hit "I" to select the "Eye Dropper". Select one of the dark gold colours out of the sunflower. Now "B" to select your paintbrush. Make sure that you are on the new layer that you created and that your selection is still loaded. Start Brushing.

Now I went back into the sunflower and chose two other colours to help add some depth. All painted, you should be somewhere around here.

That certainly doesn’t look correct, does it? Easy fix. Simply change the layer style to "Multiply".
Now CTRL+E (win) / COMMAND+E to merge the new colour layer with the old and we are done with the vase part.

Step 5 – The Flower

Everything is looking good besides the flower. All that we need to here is run the "Poster Edge" filter



If you look closely at Van Gogh’s original, you’ll notice that the edges of the pedals are a little wavy looking. Much like we did for the background, we are going to make small twirls around the edges. Zoom into one of the pedals. With your "Marquee" tool ("M") make a small selection around one of the edges.
Filter > Distort > Twirl

After doing this, go around the edge of the flower and twirl the edges. Use the shortcut CTRL+F (win) / COMMAND+F (mac) to reapply the filter.

Step 6 – Finishing Touches
Currently we still have 2 layers. One containing the flower and vase and the other with our swirled background. Before all is said and done, the background needs to match the look of the rest of the image. So first off, select the background layer.

Filter > Artistic > Paint Daubs

This adds a bit of a paint brushed look to the background. One more filter, maybe you can guess it.

Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges

One last thing. How about we put this thing on canvas. To do this, first we have to create a new "Adjustment" Layer. At the bottom of the layers palette to the left of the "Create New Layer" icon, the "Adjustment Layer"
Click that and select "Pattern".

A "Pattern Fill" dialog will pop up. Beside the thumbnail of the pattern is an arrow pointing down. Click here to select a new pattern. A smaller box will pop up with thumbnails of textures. You’ll see another arrow with a circle around it in the top right hand corner of the window. Click on that and select the "Artist Surfaces" option and hit OK. Then select "Canvas (150 by 150 Grayscale Mode)". No need to scale it, so just hit ok.
On the canvas layer, change the layer style to "Multiply" and set the "Opacity" at 70%.

Completed. You now have created your very own Van Gogh-esque image. I recommend trying this again with a photo with a higher resolution and you will get much better results. Plus they all don’t have to be sunflowers. I think now that I’m going to do my own self portrait, except, I’m not going to cut my ear off.






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