Making Digital Photo Art Using Snap Art

Docked Boats - Painting

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a software junkie.   I dare say that I love processing photos almost as much as I love taking them.  I enjoy playing with an assortment of plug-ins and filters and love the ease and creativity they can open up.  Instead of continuing to hack around on the artistic effects side, I decided to sign-up for a 4 week on-line course through  It is called Enhancing Images and Creating Works of Art by Deborah Sandidge.  I would highly recommend any of her courses.  I finishing up the last week of her course, and thought I would share some of my lessons learned.  This post features works created by Alien Skin’s Snap Art plug-in.  They offer a free-trial of the software, so it’s worth checking out if you’re interested.

Eye-opener #1 – You can create many interpretations of the same image.

I know this may sound obvious, but typically I look at a subject as either “fine-art”, “pop-art”, or with graphic possibilities.  During the class I would pick a favorite photo and try many different treatments to see the range of effects and feelings.  This photo below is of two teenager sisters sitting quietly watching a sunset (I know seemingly implausible).  One interpretation uses Snap Art’s oil painting preset, the other uses the Stylize preset.  One could be placed on a wall, the other a postcard.

Sisters- Original
Sisters - Painting
Sisters - Stylize

Eye-opener #2 – Use blending modes and opacity to adjust the effect

Sometimes the effect is too “heavy”; it can obscure the original image to the point of distraction.  The Sisters – Postcard image above is an example of where I applied the Stylize effect, changed the blending mode, and then reduced the opacity so the subject was not completely abstracted and obscured.

Eye-opener #3 – Takes a good photograph into a completely different direction.

We loved photographing this old barn with a field of red clover.  To be honest, Peter’s photos were a lot better than mine.  Realizing that competition becomes unhealthy in a marriage after a  point, I decided to take my barn image in a completely different direction and make it more painterly.  I used Snap Art’s Pastel Abstract preset to make the image below.  I took a good photograph and made it something unique.

Barn - Original
Barn- Painting

Eye-opener #4 – Add feeling to an image

The images below did not invoke any emotion for me.  I liked the subject and composition – but something was missing.  Snap Art helped me to create an image that invoked tranquility.

Docked boats - Original
Docked Boats - Painting

Eye-opener #5 – Identify what you wish your photo would convey and then try to create it.

Peter and I were hoping for a beautiful beach sunset – it was just not going to happen.  I loved this palm tree and the two people sitting on the beach hoping for the same thing we were.  It was cold, windy, and sometimes rainy.  I ran the photo through Topaz Adjust 5 to create the yellow vintage look (more to come on that software in a different post), and then took it into Snap Art and used an Oil Paint preset.  This was what I wish we had seen on the beach that night.

Tropical Sunset - Original
Tropical Sunset - Painting

You can see more of our digital art on

One Comment

  1. Najasila

    Wow! The Tropical Sunset – Painting blows my mind. Now when I look at images I’ll wonder if it’s real or if it’s in the finishing.

    Great technique for photographers who have a vision for a specific photo, but don’t have the conditions to bring it to life! Glad you shared.

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