I am trying to make pictures look like paintings. I am interested about reaching a similar color grading.

This is an example: link

I'm asking an opinion about what kind of techniques should I use. It is not simply about saturation an vibrance. My opinion is that a more complex color grading process must be applied, but I cannot really get a similar effect.

I am not asking what should I do in PS or LR. Just conceptually, what would need to be done.


2 Answers 2


As Matt Grum nicely proposed, warm tones are the key elements in the "soft painting" look of this beautiful photo. Indeed, if you revert the "bump" in reds and greens, the picture would look like (with auto white balance and levels in photoshop) :

flat levels version

If you look carefully, you can discover another element which contributes to the painting-like effect, for example let's take the details in the hand :

hand details

There is a nice job on lights here ! The shadows are deep, but really soft. I suspect the use of a large single softbox above the subject. To give an opposite example, let's take a look on this hand picture with a very hard light, leading to high local contrasts, which non naturally emphases the details. Finally, when trying revert this and thus to enhance local contrasts to revert this soft light, I got this more "usual" picture :

enhance local details


Conceptually you need to boost the reds and greens to produce a very warm overall tone. There are dozens of ways to do this, the main ones would be:

  • White balance during RAW conversion
  • Colour balance tool in Photoshop
  • Photo filter tool in Photoshop
  • Curves tool in Photoshop

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