How To – Digital Art Alterations

Acquire digital art alterations knowledge for a different look to fine art paintings.
Learn additional Photoshop steps to change your artwork.

Digital art alterations to Golden Gate Bridge painting.

Getting An Opinion

I ask my children which one of my paintings they thought would be most interesting to do a digital art alteration on. The answer was, either Encroaching Falls or Favorite End. I did both. In this post I’ll give some general pointers to my digital approach to “Favorite End”.

First here’s a glance at the “Encroaching Fall” painting image which I made a digital art alteration to for a “Happy Thanksgiving” post I shared with friends and family on my social media pages.

Before, After art of "Encroaching Fall" painting

The Required Challenge In These Digital Art Alterations

The concept given was to bring a minimalist approach to the painting “Favorite End”.  The challenge being, make it foggy to drop out more details, remove the tree branches on the left hand side, remove the flowers to simplify the look, show as little information as possible and still allow it to be a working painting.

Removing The Tree Branches

  • Removing The Unwanted

    I started the process by isolating out the tree branches and using “Content Aware” as I deleted them. “Content Aware” replaces deleted material with surrounding color information. In this case, some of the sky area that is in the painting itself.

Art painting "Favorite End" with digitally removed branches.

  • Repairing Replacement Info

    Then I used the “Healing Brush Tool” to clean up patches of the sky that “Content Aware” filled in that did not work quite as well for me. There are times I use the brush tool to paint over areas for a better look. Content Aware and Healing Brush are wonderful tools for digital art alterations.

Painting image showing Photoshop healing brush tool.

Adding The Fog

  • Finding My Way With Layer Mask

    Because I’m not quite sure where I want to take this. I’m simply experimenting with different possibilities, using different “Layer Masks”. Of course, I use “Levels Layer Mask” to give it a foggy look. I’m using “Photo Filters” to try and get a feeling of color I may want. “Selective Color” as well, and “Hue Saturation” to desaturate the color in certain areas to aid the fogginess.

image showing Photoshop layer mask>

  • Gaining Some Clarity As I Go

    I decided to play off a bit of the warm against cools to help give a certain look. Because the fog lessen some cloud detail, I’m painting a white edge to the clouds to help with some of the form lost. I painted in extra fog creeping over the mountains to help solidify the foggy look. 

Painting of clouds.

  • One Method To Approach Painting

    Digital painting lends itself to positive and negative painting. When using a “Layer Mask” I will generally fill an area with the mask, then erase out a certain unwanted percentage of it. Because of the fog effect, I approach most of this painting in that manner.

Removing the Flowers?

  • Playing It Safe

    Now rather than painting out the flowers, I simply try to turn them more greenish and yellow in flavor by using a “Selective Color” layer mask to help me do that. This way I can determine whether I really want to get rid of the flowers or not. After doing this, I decided to leave the flower colors to maintain a certain color balance to the picture. But I keep them toned down (or desaturate in color) by the foggy effect.

Digitally altered flowers in painting.

  • Visual Balance

    Without the tree branches, the picture falls visually heavy to the right side to me. Because of this I felt it was important to put the tree branches back in to give it balance. I played around with it to push it more towards the left, not quite as far into the picture as I had it before, and kept it tone down as well. I copied and pasted branches from the original image, which means I had to erase out the old sky color around the branches in order for the new sky color to show through. Then did similar digital art alterations to shift the color to fit the new environment.

Painted image showing digital fix the tree branches

  • Finalizing The Look

    I continue to play back and forth with various “Photo Filter” layer masks both warm and cool filters, to help me determine what range of color I wanted in this picture.

    Painting showing digital filter alterations.
    Once I finalize me decision, I cleaned up my Chinese name stamp to fit the new environment.

Painted image of signature stamp.

Here’s a comparison of the old and the new. Send me a note, tell me what you think, and happy painting.

Before, After painting "Favorite End".

You might find “The Painting Advantages of Digital vs Traditional”, “How To Paint Digitally With Photoshop”, or “How To Paint Digitally With Photoshop”