Posted by: Julie Duell | February 26, 2009





In an earlier post I covered  ‘Exploring an image with options’  and this Post is an extension to that – with some fresh images rendered in a number of ways, some physically and some using Photoshop Elements program.

It is so exciting to share the artistic journey and look at some of the options open to us in expressing a subject.

I will start with some original paintings I did some time ago of the Australian bush, then altering them to show different approaches.

Here’s the first, painted in oils from a quick reference photo on a campout with my late husband John along Mooney Creek on the Central Coast.  It had been raining and the bark was wet, accentuating its colour and the creek was like a mirror – so beautiful.  One could ideally imagine sitting there near the creek bank painting in situ – but not so, as there were numerous leeches ready to suck our blood!  Just a quick admiring “oohh” and “aahh”, a snapped photo – and we had to keep moving!  At home in the comfort of my studio however, the scene fresh in my mind, I was able to depict a bit of the magic…


Now lets look at a couple of other alternatives for portraying this scene…other directions I could have taken to depict it.

Maybe it would make a nice diptych (2 complementary panels) using simplified areas of tone. To try this out I scanned the photo of the painting into a file, then opened it in Adobe Photoshop Elements programme on the computer and opened an image altering bar called “FILTER”.  I then used an artistic tool called “Cutout”. All of the tools used to create the images below can be found in the ‘Filter’ menu, apart from colour changes which I altered in “Quickfix”.   My version of Photoshop is 3.0 so current versions may be different.

Anyway, I press a few buttons  and hey presto! A dyptich…

b1  c

Once again, I made a copy of the original, cropped it and played with it, turning it into a pointellism approach…


Next time I cropped the image only slightly, then applied the Photoshop “Cross hatch” tool to it. These tools give you lots of option like the direction and length of the strokes. Its a great way to try out an idea to see how it looks before you actually choose to create your artwork that way.  We might as well put this technology to good artistic use!!! Of course I don’t feel I would have to follow these options exactly – just use them as guides to bounce off.


Next I try a Photoshop tool called “Ink Outlines” to see what that does to the original image…going to black, white & grey tones really tests a composition!  Here the play of light and shade is strong.


Yet another option would be to go semi-graphic with it, using a tool called “Poster edges”.  If you like black you may like this…


Right – now there are lots of different approaches and of course, there would be countless more!


Here is another painting of an afterburn in Bouddi National Park as I chose to portray it at the time. It was quite a large oil painting and I was taken by the red revealed under the burnt bark of the angopheras (or Sydney red gums).  It seemed as though the saplings had captured something of the fire itself!  I popped in a magpie to “go with” the black and white in the painting – can you find him?



My painting above was based on realism with a bit of exaggeration – but what if I decided to stylise it more…using say “Cutout” in the artistic tools.  Would it be more exciting? What do you think?


Yes, I like that very much. How would it look with more greens to contrast the reds?


Wow! I really like that dramatisation, do you? This is the advantage of Photoshop – you can try things out before putting paint to canvas!

I wonder how it would look if I were to crop it and apply “Watercolour” in the Artistic tools…


Gosh! That’s exciting too.  I could mount a whole exhibition based on versions of this one painting!!!

This next trial version is using a Photoshop artistic tool called “Colured Pencil”… Hmmm. what do you think? It’s different! Very subtle.


Now how about getting a general idea how this composition would look in black and white…


Ah! Now I think this style below has possibilities. It  is called “rough pastels” in the Photoshop artistic tools. I think I would like to print this out and use it as reference to do a pastel study. I’m very fond of directional shading.  This angle is usually comfortable for right handers to render – left handers may need to slant the pastel strokes the opposite way.



OK – now next, let’s look  at one of my rather plain unfinished landscapes and see if we can render it in some more exciting ways…



Below, I tried using perpendicular pastel strokes on a dark brown paper…


Then I decided to try things out on Photoshop again. The version below is using the “Watercolour” tool…


Hmmm. I like it, but I think it’s a bit busy. What if I simplified it a bit more to strengthen the drama? I can do this by adjusting the slider rule in the “Watercolour” tool…


Yes, I think that is much better, do you?  Sometimes “less is more” and makes for a stronger composition.

OK – now for a few more fun possibilities to try… what if I make the trees dance? This is using a tool called “Liquify”.


Then I go for a kind of jigsaw shape effect…using the “Cutout” tool…


Well! That’s different isn’t it?  Somehow the shapes seem to represent Northern Hemisphere disiduous trees though rather than Australian Eucalypts.

Now I think I will try altering the colouring of the original image I scanned in, to cool colours – moonlit perhaps?


That’s a new slant!  I wonder how that would look with ink outlines…


or rendered with ink in directionsl shading…


Gosh, one could go on and one, opening up to choices.  Here is one last one playing with little islands of shape in light outlines…


Finally, here is an interesting approach used by my partner, Tony, in painting a local bush scene…


Did you enjoy that?  I hope you found it as exciting as I did and when you next look at a subject, maybe pause a while and imagine how it would look in some of these renderings before you choose to depict it.   By looking at options like this, you come to know what you gravitate to and understand more deeply your own preferences and taste.

Anyway, happy creating – however you do it!

Don’t forget – the joy in painting is to do what you love and love what you do!

Cheers,   Julie


  1. Hi Julie great site u have and its good to see other artists using the digital tools we have at hand these days , im self taught and am loving digi art also love the messy stuff lol and guess what im at Bateau Bay so we are sort of neighbours in this great cyber world lol

    cheers bev

    • Hi Bev Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you are enjoying digi art as well as the nice juicy messy paint! Bateau Bay is a great place to live. Enjoy! Julie

  2. Julie you challenge us all to probe the imagination by presenting some examples of the many options available to explore.

    This can liberate us all from the humdrum, the boring the cheerless concept of the crude blue sky, the green folliage and brown tree trunk.

    Nature presents us wifh endless variety, constant change and wonder, once we start to really observe and tune in to her many moods.

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