Turn a pic into a work of art
Convert pixels into paint-like strokes with Painter Essentials 7

1 Source Choose a suitable photo to convert into paint-like strokes. Here we’ve gone for a pet portrait.

2 Style Choose an artistic media from the Auto-Paint menu and Painter will then paint the photo in that style.

3 Go manual When the auto-painting has finished, you can reveal details by painting over the photo by hand.

4 Brush tips Click here to access brushes. We’ve chosen an Oil tip to smear our photo’s pixels in a realistic way.

Some artists use photographs as the reference point for their paintings. Indeed, it takes artistic skill to capture a good photograph; photographers need to carefully compose an image that captures the beauty of a scenic landscape or produces a flattering portrait of a person or pet. However, while you may have mastered the art of photography you may not be so skilled at recreating a scene by applying paint to canvas. Fortunately, Painter Essentials 7 enables you to convert your artfully composed photo’s original colours, tones and details into paint-like strokes that render your subject as a convincing painting.

Painter enables you to automatically render large areas using broad strokes then paint in key details manually.

Media mimic

Painter can mimic a range of artistic media such as watercolour or oils. Painter also offers an auto-painting mode to convert a photo into a painting using a particular style. You can then use a range of brush tips to manually paint in key details. Painter’s digital brush tips behave like physical brushes so you can place painted strokes that follow your subject’s shape and add that all-important human touch to your work.

We’ll show you how to automatically convert a photo into an oil-painting, add detail with manual strokes and then use filters to add a 3D texture that mimics the thick edges of smeared oil-paint. We’ll also demonstrate how to use layers to mix oil-paint strokes on one layer with finer pencil details on another.

HOW TO Create a painting from a photo

1 Open source image

Choose File > Open and browse to a shot that would suit a painting makeover. Click Open. In the Photo Painting panel, click Use Open Image. Go to the Auto-Painting menu and choose a style such as Oil Painting.

2 Auto-paint it

Click Start. A message appears saying ‘Now Preparing Auto-painting…’. Painter automatically places brush tips that smear the picture’s pixels into paint-like strokes. When you’re happy with the look, click Stop.

3 Paint by hand

Select the Brush tool. Click on the Photo Painting Brushes icon. Go to the Photo Painting Brushes category and choose Camel Oil Cloner. Paint over key features, such as the subject’s eyes to reveal important detail.

4 Mix your media

Go to the Layers panel and click New Layer. Go to the Auto-Paint section and choose AI Colored Pencil. Click Start. Painter will add pencil strokes to the new layer. Click Stop when enough strokes have been added.

5 Add surface texture

Click on the Canvas layer. Click on Effects > Surface Control > Apply Surface Texture. Set Using to 3D Brush Strokes. By modifying properties such as Softness, you can add an embossed edge to your 2D paint strokes.

6 Fine-tune layers

You can reduce the Opacity of the AI Colored Pencil layer to produce more subtle-looking pencil strokes. Use the Eraser tool to remove any automatically placed pencil strokes that don’t work or are too distracting.

Genius tip!

After ticking Show Tracing Paper, you can adjust the Opacity to mix the original photo with the painted layer. This helps you apply brush tips more accurately to reveal details.

Genius tip!

By choosing File > Save, you can save your painting as a Painter RIFF (the Corel Painter file format) which preserves all layers. To share the painting online, choose File > Save As and set the format to JPEG.


15 minutes


How to combine auto painting with manual brush strokes


Painter Essentials 7, macOS 10.13 or later

Convert your photo’s original colours, tones and details into paint-like strokes