Digital Pictorialism Tutorial

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

I’ll admit that I am an fan of pictorialism, which is more concerned with the aesthetics and the emotional impact of the image and that employed whatever handcrafted means from manipulating the negative to complex darkroom techniques to add artistic touches sometimes going to far as to emulate traditional disciplines such as painting and sketching. The advent of digital image manipulation let a lot of pictorialists out of the closet and into the daylight allowing us to create the kind of artistic images we’ve always dreamed of producing.

The original photograph was made in daylight at Mission San Juan Capistrano but later in the day at 5:19 PM so the colors are slightly warmer than if it had been made at midday but the drama and the long shadows would have been missing in the flat, harsh midday light.







Pencil FilterAfter 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.) One of the features I like about many of PSP’s filters is the resizable dialog box, the check box that lets you preview the effect on the image and a dice icon that randomizes the parameters. I keep clicking the dice until I got an effect I liked. Tip: Photoshop users might try the Colored Pencils filter for a similar look.

As you can see in the previous shot, the woman (actually my mother-in-law) is seen as an outline and I wanted her to have more weight in the image. I used PSP’s Eraser tool to erase part of the top layer—but not her shoulder bag—to allow her black outfit as well as her shadow show through from the bottom layer. To wrap up the package, I applied Kubota’s Sloppy Borders edge effects.


My book “Creative Monochrome Effects” is available from Amazon for a really low price right now. If you’ve been thinking about creating black and white images, you can pick up a new copy for less than five bucks with used copies available at virtually giveaway prices.

Author: Joe Farace

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