Painting with the Pattern Stamp in Photoshop

Photoshop Elements’ Filter Gallery does an OK job of making a photo look like a painting– but if you really want to turn a photo into a hand-painted piece of art, look no further than the Pattern Stamp Tool.


We’ll start by setting up the pattern. Open your photo (in this example, we’ll use a red pepper, courtesy of Go to Edit > Define Pattern…, and name the new pattern “red pepper”. (By creating a pattern this way, the new pattern will be the exact same size as the document– very important when we start to paint with the Pattern Stamp tool.)


Select the Pattern Stamp tool. If it’s hidden under the Clone Stamp tool, click and hold on the Clone Stamp, and slide down to select the Pattern Stamp. Choose a 21 pixel soft-edged brush, and turn on Aligned and Impressionist in the options bar. If you’re using a Wacom tablet, you’ll see that the stroke profile is telling you the brush will react to pressure with size. Firm pressure gives you a large stroke, light pressure a small one.


Now that the pattern’s set, we’ll get the layers ready to draw on. Start by adding a new layer by clicking on the More button on the Layers palette and clicking on New Layer. Name the new layer “Black”, and turn the opacity to 80%.


Go to Edit > Fill layer, and fill the layer with black. The 80% opacity you set the layer for in the last step makes the Black layer like a piece of tracing paper, letting you see the red pepper underneath the Black layer.


Add another layer on top of the Black layer, and name this layer “Art”. Keep the opacity for the Art layer at 100%.


Now we’re ready to paint. Paint in the red pepper with the Pattern Stamp tool, using long strokes to outline the pepper, and shorter strokes to fill in. Since the art is on its own layer, you can easily erase any mistakes with the Eraser tool.


Reduce the size of your brush to 9 pixels to paint in the delicate areas where the stem meets the pepper.


Finish the painting by pulling the opacity of the Black layer back up to 100%, and then sign your name with a 3 pixel paintbrush.