I have blogged about this before, but I wanted to write a little supplement to my previous post. The “painted” look (as I call it) has been made very popular by photographers like David Hill. I’m sure the way I’m going about making my own images look like this is nowhere close to what he does, but I still get great results. I learned this method from reading Scott Kelby’s blog, but I have added a couple of my own tweaks to taste. I’ll show you my methods and then feel free to do the same with your own images.
The look I created with the photo above I accomplished solely in Lightroom. I didn’t have to go to Photoshop at all. When you read it and see how simple it is, you’re going to be blown away. One of the key elements to making this look work for your images is lots of contrast in the lighting. This won’t work for every single image you have, but it works great for most of them.
First you have to crank Recovery and Fill Light all the way to 100. Second, bring up Blacks to balance out the exposure. (Recovery brings down the highlights and Fill Light opens up the shadows.) Next, increase Contrast to 100. Going good so far? Good.
Now move down to the Presence section and move Clarity and Vibrance to 100. You photo will now look EXTREMELY colorful. After that, dial back the Saturation until you are happy with the color and tone of the image. This adjustment probably affects your image the most and you can choose to go with a little more color or a little less, whichever looks best to you.
Now, the steps above are all that you really HAVE to do to give your image that “painted” and contrasty look. However, I like to take it one step further because I prefer a lot of contrast in my images. I move down to the Tone Curve palette and adjust my Point Curve to Strong Contrast. This really makes the color in my photos pop and I am crazy about color! You can try your own tweaks to the Tone Curve as well and come up with something that you really like. For me, it’s quick and easy and I’m very satisfied with the results.
And there you have it, the method behind my madness for getting that “painted”, gritty look with my images. I love the look (so do a lot of other people). Try it out with your own images and see what you can come up with. Remember that you don’t have to use Lightroom to do perform this little trick. You can also this little feat with Photoshop using Camera Raw. It works exactly the same way.