Before and After Forum; Hand Painted Photo

The Before and After forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

Last weekend I went to Odyseja Historyczna in Kutno Poland, which is a military re-enactment event. I took quite a few photos, including the one I am editing today. The shot looked perfect to be replicated as one of those 1930-40 hand painted images that you sometimes in documentaries of the Second World War.

In the past I have shared how you can hand paint an image in Adobe Camera Raw but this time I am going to do it in Photoshop.


The starting image is pretty good the only thing I want to do is remove the modern signage on the tarp in the back ground. I did this using the clone and patch tool


The first step in colouring is removing colour, I choose to use the black and white adjustment layer and used my own present that replicates the Daguerreotype tones.


This produced a dark effect so I lightened it with a curves adjustment.
Colouring the image is simple but time consuming. Using the Eyedropper tool, I select colours from the original image (you have to turn off the black and white layer to do this each time). Using the paint bucket tool, I fill a new layer with picked colour and then set the blending mode to color. To paint the colour on the image I use layer masks, I add a hide all layer mask to the layer (Layer – layer mask –hide all) and the paint white with a medium opacity.  I repeat this for each colour I pick. When painting you can make broad strokes with large brushes but you also need to zoom in to paint around smaller objects and make it seem real.


I now wanted to age the image a little; I added two textures one for paper and one to replicate the fading of a photograph.


The image I felt needed a little bit of contrast and I also added a vignette to finish off the process.


This image is one of those that I really love to edit. When shooting I had a pre-visualization of what I wanted and it turned out great with not much fuss. The image has a nice faux vintage feel and could possibly be a frame from the Second World War in colour.
The overall edit took about 90 mins

Let me know what you think, be it positive or negative using the comment box below.

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13 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Hand Painted Photo

  1. I really like the look of the final image and I appreciate your willingness to share the step-by-step process with us. That’s a lot of work, but it’s nice when you have a certain look in mind and you are able to achieve it.

    • Thanks for your comment Mike, I really like to share how I make images so others can take inspiration from and learn, I also like how a plan comes together with images.

  2. Very interesting discussion, especially the premise of the editing which is to replicate techniques that were used in the past. Thank you for sharing the details on how you go about this. I learned a lot.

    • I think replicated techniques are ok as long as you are honest with them.I think people can recognize a faux vintage image but not not replicated film stocks which are sold and shared in presets and plugins.

    • There are some images when I just edit what is there to improve the image. I do though like to have an end goal in place and sometimes they don’t work.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Kind of two ways edition Ben. I mean, it works the way you did or the other one; easily, the after version could be before one and viceversa. Excellent and interesting job!

  4. Ben, great submission for ABFriday. I am always so impressed with your knowledge and application of post-processing techniques. Thanks for discussing in detail how you colored the photo. I am going to go into PS and play around with an image to see if I can get the hang of what you describe (I’ll probably be back with questions!). As always, glad to have you part of the Forum!

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