The Oil Paint Filter can be Great with some tweaking.
As a former painter, I wanted the Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop to be incredible. As it stands, by itself, it is less than desirable. It looks like someone just threw a filter on a photo and called it a day. Some words come to mind, kitsch, contrived, automated, and crap.
There are lots of great photo painting plugins on the market like Topaz Impression or Rebelle. These plugins use various algorithms for highlights and shadows to make the image look like a more natural painted photograph. So if you think like these programs, you can make the Photoshop filter work wonders.
In a recent tutorial, Luminosity Masking versus Blend If, I showed you how to break your image into three distinct regions using two different approaches. The first approach was with Luminosity Masking, which is a very powerful approach to photo editing, but it makes a static selection. The second approach was using Blend If, which adapts its selection based on the underlying tones. After thinking about the second selection method and the Oil Paint filter, a little light bulb kicked on and I developed a unique technique for creating an oil painted effect in Photoshop.
In today’s tutorial, I will show you how to separate your image into three distinct regions using Blend If. We will then go into the Oil Paint filter and a create different settings for each region. This technique will simulate different brush strokes for the various regions of the photo. It yields a much more natural painted look.
There is a lot going on in this tutorial. Try to follow along on an image of your own. If you are struggling, no worries, I created an Action for you that does all the work. Just be sure to install the appropriate Action for your version of Photoshop (CC or CS6).