Blur shadows, sharpen highlights, and add texture for a “painterly” effect.
- Open a copy of your image as a Smart Object.
Choose File => Open as Smart Object or, if the image is already open, choose Layer => Smart Objects => Convert to Smart Object. When working with Smart Filters, you can later – if necessary – reopen the filter and change the settings.
- Select the shadows and blur. Open the Channels palette and Ctrl+click the channel at the top (RGB or CMYK or Lab) to make a selection according to the brightness of each pixel. Use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection (select shadows rather than highlights). Apply a slight Gaussian Blur, perhaps 1 or 2 pixels, to blur detail in the darker areas. (Remember that you can use the shortcut Ctrl+H to hide the “marching ants” and make the selection border disappear)
- Select the highlights and sharpen. You need to reselect the highlights, so again Ctrl+click the channel at the top (RGB or CMYK or Lab). Apply the Sharpen => Smart Sharpen filter with initial settings of Amount: 200% and Radius: 2 pixels. (Adjust the values to match the content of your image and your artistic vision.)
- Add a canvas texture to the image. Do not deselect (so that the texture will be applied a bit more prominently to the image’s highlights than to the shadows). Use the Texture => Texturizer filter to add a slight canvas texture, enhancing the painterly effect.