If you are stuck wondering what should you give someone special for the holidays, or any special occasion for that matter, transform one of your photographs into a painting. It’s fast, easy and personal.

Photoshop has a range of painting options under the Filter Gallery. These work great but if you want to take the painting look to another level try the new Topaz Impression or Simplify plugins. Simplify produces more graphical art results and Impression creates more realistic brush strokes.art results. Experiment and see which looks better for a particular image. Once you create a look you like, save the settings as a preset. This can be used for future projects.

Before you Begin

Before you begin your digital painting, determine what size you want to print your image. Perfect Resize from onOne is a great choice. Chose a size that is easy to frame. Common ready made frames sizes are 8×10, 11×14, 16×20, 16×24, 24×30 and 24×36. Printing an image 17.254 x 11.169 will make it hard to find a ready made frame forcing you to take the expensive custom frame route.

Standalone or as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop

Topaz can be used as a stand alone program, you don’t need a host program such as Lightroom and Photoshop. I prefer to start in Lightroom to find my image, export it to Photoshop and change the layer to a smart object. This makes Topaz a smart filter, allowing me to make changes after I save the image.

Select an Effect

Browse through the selections and choose a starting point for your image. Use the edit tool to make fine adjustments. Sometimes it’s best to lower the strength of the effect bringing back details in the original image.


Choose the right paper for your final print. A pencil sketch looks great on Artist Rag and a painting effect looks great on canvas. Both can stand out on metal. If you have access to a photo quality printer, you can print the images yourself. If not, there are plenty of print labs you can turn to. Bay Photo, Mpix and Metal Mural are a few great labs.

It’s always best to plan ahead to save on shipping cost, but if you are stuck and need a quick memorable gift, turn your photo into a painting.

Note: If you need to prep an image for printing on canvas, be sure to check out onOne Software’s Perfect Resize which can create the mirrored edges automatically and output a the right dimensions and resolution,

Extra Resources

Scott's carAbout the feature image: The photo was taken by a good friend, Scott Larson for his father. I was asked to make the photo unique. Using Topaz’s Impression, I changed the photograph into a digital painting.