How to Create Stunning Art From Photos

Ever wondered how to create stunning art from photos?

In this post you will learn how easy it is to do just that.

You probably have photos, including slightly out of focus or badly composed ones, that are just sitting on your computer.
Why not use them to do something that is fun and challenging and very likely lucrative too?

Why not turn your photography passion into an art passion?

In this post I aim to convince you to start creating stunning art from the photos you already have.

While photography is an art in itself, skilled processing, combined with imagination and artistic flair, can elevate photos to something quite outstanding.

If this is something that interests you – read on …


Taking Advantage of Covid Lockdowns

Having lots of down time during the Covid lockdowns I got to thinking about making art from my photos.

Making art from photos

But where to start?

I needed to do some research around:

  • What constitues art – is there a fixed formula or is art subjective?
  • My own personal tastes in art – with so many different styles I had no idea what I really liked.
  • My goals (intentions) for my art – why exactly was I doing this.
  • What are the current trends in art?
  • Learning how to actually create art from the numerous photos in my LightRoom catalogue

The Starting Point

The Internet – where else?

I did a ton of reading online which I found overwhelming jumping from one link to the next. I decided to do it the old fashioned way and took myself off to the library.

Armed with an armful of books I started reading about art through the ages. All new to me – some of it was boring but most was fascinating.

It is very impressive to see the sheer volume of work artists put out. Much of it done with limited tools and facilities and all with no promise of reward. That must be reassuring – if “they” could persevere then surely you can.

After all technology makes things so much easier and less expensive

Visit local art galleries (we have 2 in my little town). If you immerse yourself in art you will get a better feel for what appeals to you. Make a note of these.

You’ll likely first decide what you don’t like. That is not a bad thing because you can avoid that type of art and refine your research accordingly.

The main lesson from this research is simply to get started.

What You Will Need to Create Art from Photos

Art from photos - The long lost tourist showing two photos totally clashing to create an interesting image that is artistic
* The Long Lost Tourist. My favourite piece of art so far!

Like any artist you will need some basic tools.

Relax no need for a paint brush and easel – you will be using technology to create art from photos.

You probably already have most of what you need to get started immediately.

In fact you have the one thing you need right in front of you – the Internet

What you probably already have:

  • A camera or a phone (or both) and a scanner (if possible) to capture images.
  • A computer – to store all your images and on which you will create your art.
  • A good screen – it’s important your computer screen is the best you can get and one specifically designed for photo editing is ideal, but not essential.
  • Photos – they do not have to be your own. The internet has a lot of free photos sites that allow you to harvest images and of course you can purchase images too. To me there is more satisfaction in using my own images.
  • An thorough working knowledge of LightRoom and PhotoShop or similar programs. If your skills aren;t where you like them to be don’t let this put you off. You will learn and improve as you progress.
  • A scanner. Libraries usually have one for public use but your own is so much more convenient. And they are very inexpensive these days.

Tools That Make Life Much Easier

You can get started with the basics listed above but these tools will make life easier.

  • An Online Course – there are many out there. I highly recommend Andre Sebastian’s Shift Art course. And what’s more it is easy to follow and apply with a ton of free dowloads you can use in your art.
  • A journal. As you get started in your quest to create art your mind will be churning out ideas all day. Write them down in a journal as it is impossible to remember everything you think of. Carry your journal around with you every day. It can be a paper journal or an electronic one, such as can be found on most phones.
  • A Large “scrap book” (or shoe box) – journal notes are useful but limited. Old magazines with interesting images, newspaper cutting etc, can be kept in a scrap book. As can sketches of ideas.
    For example; let’s say one of your aims was to create a piece of art depicting a song title such as “Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree”. You may find it useful to draw your vision (stick-man is perfectly acceptable here) and list the elements (photos) you will need to complete your vision.
  • A Digital Graphic Drawing tablet. A tablet such as the Intuos Pro will greatly improve your workflow and, in particular, your accuracy. If you want more control and flexibility for all your cutting, masking and selections as well as flexibility and speed with all the PhotoShop tools, I strongly recommend you get one.
    Trust me on this, you will not regret it.
  • Books on art, subscriptions to art magazines and following other artists on social media. These are all very useful for getting some great ideas and keeping up with art while having fun!
  • Time and Patience. Chances are you are not going to produce a perfect piece of art straight off the bat. It’s going to take time to find your style, time to pratice it and time to put it all together.
  • A good imagination and an open mind. You have to start thinking like an artist and which means engaging your right brain more.
    Or does it?
    Here is an interesting article on the subject.

Create Your Art With Passion and Love

An art from photo piece depicting the work of a farrier
A more interesting version of a good photo

Stay focused and create with passion – keep your end goal in mind and remember The Mona Lisa was not completed in a day!

“Love what you do and the rest will follow” – said someone once.

Gettting started can be daunting – especially if you feel you haven’t got an artistic bone in your body.
Not only is that okay, it might be a good thing as you search to find what you like and how to go about creating it.
Continue to strive for improvement and enjoy the process, love what you are doing and be passionate about it.

Turn on music that helps the juices flow and improves your concentration.

At some point you are likely to get tired, possibly despondent and want to quit.

That’s ok – just save your work knowing you can come back to it at a later date.

The good news is as you try to uncover and apply your artistic “juices” your knowledge of art will improve as will your Photoshop skills.

You’re going to make a lot of mistakes, or create art that you think is “not acceptable”. That’s fantastic because while doing this you probably won’t realise that your PhotoShop skills are improving and that you are getting faster.

Final Word on Creating Art from Photos

When creating your art try to enjoy yourself. As soon as you are bored or feel it is a chore just pause. Go for a walk, have a coffee or a wine relax your mind totally.

Have fun and mess around – you cannot damage anything and if things turn to custard the “bin” awaits with no judgement.

*The image above entitled “The Long Lost Tourist” was a real fun one to create.
With no pre-conceived ideas of what I wanted to create but simply trying different techniques – one of which was cutting out difficult subjects, this was the end result.

The lady on the bike happens to be my sister and is partly the reason why I love this piece.

Another reason why I like it so much is because the photo was taken when she was on holiday in New Zealand in 2015. The setting is an urban environment.
The photo of the Zebra I took when I was on holiday in South Africa in 2017 visiting her and my other siblings.

It’s cool to have two photos, taken at different times, for different reasons, combined into a piece of art that means something personal to me. I don’t care if nobody else likes it.


So what do you think – is creating art from photos something that interests you?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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