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Artwork Created From A Photograph

Do you have as much trouble as I do finding nice artwork? Everything these days just looks so mass-produced. That’s probably because it IS mass-produced.

I had a heck of a time finding artwork for Julia’s kitchen.

After searching and searching, I only found two possibilities, and both were from Hobby Lobby.  The problem was that both possibilities were sets of two pictures, and I really had my heart set on finding a set of three pictures.   Also, my reaction to both of them was, “Well, this will do, I guess,” instead of, “Wow, this is perfect!!”  I hated having to settle for mediocre.

Oh and one more issue I had was that both possibilities, interestingly enough, had a 1950’s theme.  That scared me a little, as I’ve said from the beginning that I wanted to avoid any “theme decorating” in this kitchen.  I wanted it to be a kitchen that just so happened to have a 1950s table and chairs in it, that just so happened to look wonderful in the kitchen.  But I didn’t want it to be a 1950s kitchen or diner.  Does that make sense?

I finally gave up and decided that if I wanted a set of three pictures, I would have to make my own.  So armed with my computer and Paint Shop Pro, I made my very own artwork for this wall in Julia’s kitchen.

I’m leaving the little plastic corners on the frames until they arrive safely at Julia’s house.


Making your own artwork on your computer is incredibly simple and affordable.  Of course, there are a million things you can do with a photo editing program like Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop.  But let me show you how I did these particular pictures.

First, I searched for three photos with the search term “red poppy”.  Google is a great place to look for photos.  Simply search the topic, and then click “images” so that it only displays pictures for your search term.  Another great resource for photos is Flickr.  And if you can’t find what you from Google or Flickr, you can always check Istockphoto.  You’ll have to pay for those, but the cost is very reasonable…especially considering what you would have to pay for mediocre “artwork” at Hobby Lobby.

When I found a photo that I liked, I copied and pasted it to Paint Shop Pro.  If you don’t have Paint Shop Pro, then I’m sure you can use another photo editing program.  The main function you need is the ability to create layers on your photo.

Also, if the photo you want to use won’t let you right click to “copy” for some reason, you can use your “print screen” button on your computer keyboard, and then in your photo editing program, right click and “paste”.  It will paste the entire screen that you captured, and then you can use the “crop” tool in your editing program to crop the photo.  Another option is to use a screen capture program like Screenhunter (free download) or the Snipping Tool that comes with Windows Vista.

Anyway…I pasted the photo to Paint Shop Pro.

I then pasted the exact same picture a second time.  So I had two identical pictures.

On the second picture, I used the “grayscale” feature to change the photo to black and white.

So I had two identical photos, but one was in color, and the other in black and white.

Next I right-clicked on the black and white photo to “copy”, and then right-clicked on the original photo and chose “paste as new layer”.  This added the black and white photo as a separate layer on top of the original full-color photo.

Again, it looks just like a black and white photo, but the layer with the color is just underneath.

Using the “eraser” tool, I erased the black and white layer just on the flower.  This exposed the red on the colored layer beneath the black and white layer.

I could have left it just like this, but I decided to tweak it just a bit more.  The gray on Julia’s walls has just a touch of green in it, so I wanted to bring that into the artwork as well.

So using the “color balance” option…

I increased the green just a tad.  I also increased the yellow (which shows as a negative number since it’s on a continuum from yellow to blue).  You can preview the change in the boxes…the left is the original color, and the right is the color with the green increased.

Perfect!  That was just what I wanted.  And again, because I was just working on the top black and white layer, adjusting the green and yellow didn’t affect the red flower at all.

After I had the photo looking exactly how I wanted it, I cropped it and resized it.  I needed it to be 8″ x 10″.

Here are the ones I used:

I bought three matching black frames on sale (50% off!!) at Michael’s.  And instead of using regular mats, I used these signature mats.

The reason I chose these mats is because standard 16″ x 20″ mats require 11″ x 14″ pictures.  But I personally prefer a gallery mat look, with more substantial mats and smaller pictures.  Because this 16″ x 20″ mat is intended for signatures, the mat is larger, and it only requires an 8″ x 10″ picture–exactly what I wanted.

Now see?  That’s not too hard, is it?  The total cost per picture was about $37, not including the photo paper and the ink.  That’s cheaper than any of that mass-produced stuff at Hobby Lobby!!

By the way, if you don’t happen to have a photo-editing program on your computer that will do layers, you can purchase Paint Shop Pro (the program I use) on Ebay for around $20.  Of course, it doesn’t do all of the fancy-schmancy things that you can do with Photoshop, but you can do quite a bit with it.  For just a little more (around $50) you can upgrade to Photoshop Elements.  Now of course, if you want the full Photoshop version, that will set you back a few hundred dollars.  I would leave that for the pros, as most of us who just want to tinker around a bit with photos will probably never need most of the functions on the high-dollar version.

So, what do you think?  Is this something you’d try for your own home?

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  1. WOW.WOW.WOW!!!

    How perfect is that? I have Elements 7 and know how to do just a very few things. I need to learn more. These were so great & the colors were JUST RIGHT!

  2. I have Elements 8 & this is one of my favorite tricks! katskraps4kids, if you go to you tube, there are a ton of photoshop tutorials on there that will teach you how to do these color pops. That's where I learned since I dont have time to go anywhere for a class!


  3. Wow, I love that!! I've been trying to find a very large piece of work for above my sofa and hate all the mass-produced stuff. This is a great idea!

  4. BT, if you need a very large piece, I would highly suggest going to a site like Istockphoto.com. That way you can purchase a high-resolution picture. If you try to use a regular photo that you find on the internet, it will become very pixelated if you blow it up too big.

    Another idea, though, is that you can use a series of six or nine (or however many) photos to fill a large space. That might end up costing more, though, because you have to purchase that many mats and frames, and those add up!!

  5. This is exactly what I need to do in my dining room. I have about the same layout as Julia has, and I didn't know what to do. I wanted to add some color, as I did my walls "dark truffle" from Behr. What color do you suggest I accent with? Thanks!

  6. I have also used Photoshop and, using pictures we had taken in Italy, made them look like watercolors. I softened the colors, then used another filter to outline it on another layer. I erased the lines I didn't want. They turned out great.

    While visiting Kristi in Turkey several years ago, I took a picture of people sitting under blue umbrellas selling flowers. It was a beautiful scene. I used photoshop and made it look like a painting, then had it printed in a 20×24. It turned out great, too.

  7. Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but are you saying you just grabbed someone else's pictures from the Internet and used them without permission? It's possible (likely, in fact, if you weren't able to right click and copy) that those people had prints available to sell, and/or copyrights on those pictures.

    I'm not trying to be critical or accusatory (and I think the work you did on them is beautiful) but it sounds to me as though you just hadn't considered that aspect of it.

  8. Great tutorial! I typically think black and white with color images look gimmicky, but yours are beautiful – you've changed my mind! I'll have to give it a try.

    A free downloadable image editing program I've been using is Paint.NET http://www.getpaint.net/

  9. This is a GREAT idea…. and thanks for the detailed steps. I have PhotoShop Elements but it is SOOOOOO above my head.. I need to really get into it to learn it.

  10. Fantastic idea! I have the full-blown edition of Photoshop, but every time I sit down to try to learn it my eyes glaze over and my cursor finds its way to another game of Solitaire. You've inspired me to play around and (maybe) learn a bit more. Thanks!

  11. Zevhonith, to answer your question…yes, I used these pictures without asking permission.

    I did not get them off of a site where the person was selling the photos, and as I am not reproducing them for sale or distribution, there is no copyright infringement. Julia will reimburse me for the cost of the frame, mat, and glass…nothing more.

    Copyright law does not prohibit a person from printing something on their computer and hanging it on their wall.

  12. Oh, you're right of course, I overreacted a bit. I was just surprised you didn't credit the original photographer! But yes, of course you can print something and hang it on your wall, sorry if I seemed harsh.

  13. This is exactly what I need to do in my dining room. I have about the same layout as Julia has, and I didn't know what to do. I wanted to add some color, as I did my walls "dark truffle" from Behr. What color do you suggest I accent with? Thanks!

  14. As a commercial photographer, I can assure you that photos are copyrighted the moment they are created.  When you use them without express permission of the artist, this is a copyright infringement.  Your photograph of these photos, and the post processing you performed, are also infringements. You did in fact profit from using somebody else's artistic property when you accepted payment from the client whose home you used these in.  Please refer to http://www.photolaw.net/faq.html.
    I'm certain you would not want someone to print off part of your blog and use it for another purpose without at least giving you credit.

  15. And by the way, my mom is also a professional photographer.  I got her opinion on the matter, and she disagrees with you.  Yes, if I were SELLING these, they would be a copyright infringement, BUT I'M NOT SELLING THEM.