A Digital Pictorialism Tutorial

by | Oct 24, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Pictorialism was an aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There’s no standard definition of the term but in general it refers to a style where the photographer has manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of creating an image rather than merely recording one.

I’ll admit to being a fan of a pictorialism that’s more concerned with the aesthetics and emotional impact of the image and  employs whatever means from manipulating the negative including darkroom techniques that add artistic touches sometimes emulating painting and sketching.

The advent of digital image manipulation brought a lot of pictorialists into the daylight allowing us to create the kind of artistic images we’ve always dreamed of producing.

How I made the original shot: The photograph was made at Mission San Juan Capistrano late in the day, around 5:19 PM ,so the colors are slightly warmer than if it had been made at midday but the drama and long shadows would have been missing in the flat, harsh midday light. Camera was a Canon EOS 50D with EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 41mm) with an exposure of 1/640 sec at f/16 and ISO 200.

After opening the image in Corel’s Paintshop Pro, I created a duplicate layer (Layer > Duplicate) then applied the Pencil effect (Effects > Art Media Effects > Pencil.) The check box that lets you preview the effect on the image includes a dice icon that randomizes the parameters. I keep clicking the dice until I got an effect that I liked. Tip: Photoshop users might try the Colored Pencils filter for a similar look.

As you can see in the manipulated shot, the woman (actually my mother-in-law) is seen as an outline but I wanted her to have more weight in the finished image.

To do that, I used PSP’s Eraser tool to erase part of the top (manipulated) layer but not her shoulder bag to allow her black outfit as well as her shadow to show through from the bottom layer.











My book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is currently out-of-print but is available from Amazon with, as I write this, used copies selling for $2.45. That’s cheaper than a Starbucks latte, so get’em while you can.