I conducted a Photoshop workshop in my home recently and in demonstrating the many techniques I love to work with I often come up with new images.
One of my favorite Photoshop plugins is Snap Art made by Alien Skin. It is a quick and easy way to turn photos into paintings. The horse portrait you see below was done with one of the many oil brushes that are part of the program. I embellished the colors using Image > adjustments > hue/saturation in CS4, but the basic abstraction was created simply by moving the sliders within Snap Art. When you print something like this on canvas, it looks exactly like a painting done with oils or acrylics.
A second image I created was a composite of a tall ship taken in terrible lighting (because the "Parade of Ships"occurred near noon) with a sunset seascape ... see small "before" photo at lower left.
I demonstrated to the students how the blend modes within the layers palette (accessed by the submenu that has the word "normal" on it) allow you to combine images without the necessity of using selection tools to cut out the subject from the original environment. Study the unmanipulated shot of the ship and you can see that it would be impossible to cut this out of the background.
To create the final image (see below), I first increased the contrast in the shot of the ship so the bluish sky became white (Image > adjustments > levels) and then I pasted the whole image into seascape. Using the "multiply" blend mode, the light sky was eliminated but all the rigging on the ship was still there. Using several of the tools in the tools palette, I then put the finishing touches on the scene.
The next Photoshop workshop in my home is scheduled for Feb. 20, 21, 2010. Also, check out my online photography tutorials, including Creative Techniques in Photoshop and Advanced Creative Techniques in Photoshop, which I teach through BetterPhoto's digital school of photography.