Creating a Monet from a photo

I just recently had the great fortune of visiting Claude Monet’s very famous home and garden in Giverny, France. Considered the father of impressionistic painting, Monet actually retired in this estate and started a school for younger artists eager to learn from the master.  Several of Monet’s greatest pieces were his attempt to capture the beauty of these grounds.

So when we went to Giverny (by a short train ride from Paris), I had a very simple goal of capturing at least one image that I could then treat in Photoshop to appear as a painting that Monet would have painted. And, I was determined to have a piece that could be printed on canvas and hung up in our new office expansion.   I’ve used a great app before called Snap Art that converts photos to “paintings” of various types.  It’s easy to dial in brush sizes, canvas types, etc. to acquire the style of “painting” you’d like.  I thought I’d show you the steps I took to complete the piece.

I took several images around the grounds, but I settled on this image of his Japanese foot bridge and water lily pond.  There are many famous paintings of this little scene. Here’s the original image I selected:


As you can see there are quite a few problems. Namely, the gawking tourists weren’t originally present in Monet’s garden. I can’t imagine Claude would have been copacetic with that.  Also, the overall picture is washed out and pretty bland. So, I started out by taking it into Photoshop and removing the unwanted guests.  This was where the bulk of my time went.  Mostly, I used the clone stamp tool and sampled the vegetation around the guest to fill in what was presumably behind them.  I knew that I didn’t have to be perfect with it, because the final product would be an impressionist painting and that would cover some of the smaller detail shortcuts I was planning to take.  When you’re using the clone stamp, the biggest issue you have is repetitive patterns.  it’s important to keep re-sampling areas and to be very erratic about it.  Nature is erratic and doesn’t use a clone stamp.

When I rid myself of the tourists, then it was time to do some image enhancement.  I added some contrast, and vibrancy (in Lightroom) and worked with the highlights and shadows to get them into a good, balanced image. When I finished with that, I looked back and realized that the photo needed just a tiny hint of color on the water lilies so I cloned one of the colorful water lilies and placed it on several different lily pads.  I knew that the broad brush strokes would just barely pick up the color when it was converted so I didn’t have to get it perfect, but close.  Here’s what the completed photo looked like, ready for the painting conversion….



Then it was time to take it to Snap Art.  I selected a default called Impasto – Abstract Impressionist.  At that point, it was just a matter of playing with the brush details and color till I dialed in something that was close to what he would have painted, but with my own style.  Here’s the final image, ready to be framed and hung on the wall.  Thank you, Mr. Monet, for the indelible mark you left on the world.


Donlope - July 26, 2012 - 2:26 am

Great tutorial and the final result is really amazing! It really looks like one of Monet’s painting.
Thanks for sharing that!

Kevin Hail Photography - August 11, 2012 - 10:11 pm

Finally added a Facebook comment engine to my website. Very exciting, in a nerdy UX/UI kind of way.

Amanda Rude Hail - August 11, 2012 - 10:12 pm

Very nice!

Amelia Hood Dement - September 4, 2012 - 3:32 pm

Very cool!

Verne Varona - October 4, 2014 - 6:07 am

You can actually do Money-like renditions all in-camera: – go to “Aqua-Impressionism.”

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