I'd like to get into photography. I don't know a lot about it but it seems very interesting. Something I'm also interested in are vintage pinups drawings/paintings.

Because I'm really no good at painting, I'd like to know if it's possible to add a filter to my photos so that they look like vintage pinup paintings, for example like this :

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


Unless you just mean the overall yellow/brown tone, no, you can't do this by adding a filter. You need three things: a model, setup, and lighting.

"A model" might seem obvious, but: posing like this isn't innate. It takes skill and practice. You probably need to hire a professional model — or else someone you work well with and a lot of patience.

By setup, I mean: the backdrop and costume, but especially hair and makeup. Again, you might want to look for a professional here.

And finally, with those elements in place, you'll need the lighting. A large softbox for the main light, plus some fill lights.

After the shoot, you may want to do some retouching to get the doll-like perfection (or, more accurately, doll-like representation of a certain ideal of perfection) — but that in itself is a skilled operation, not something you can just call up a filter to accomplish.

It's interesting to note that many (or most?) vintage pinups were in fact made from photographs staged first. However, the paintings are very clearly fantastical reinterpretations rather than anything like applying a layer of paint over the real shapes in the image. Take a look at this gallery of photographs and pinups by artist Gil Elvgren to see what I mean.

Or just look at your example — even if we assume some perspective distortion, no human being has proportions like that. To get that kind of look starting with a pure photograph — or even a similar look within the realm of actual real women (or men) — is actually going to take as much or more skill and talent as learning to paint.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So you're certain that the "painting effect" can't be simulated with Photoshop, for example ? \$\endgroup\$
    – tomfl
    Jul 9, 2016 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tomfl it can, but you will need to follow suggestions by mattdm to get a good starting point and then an experienced retoucher. No filter in photoshop will create infinite background, 50's style makeup and dress or replace lights. Garbage in - garbage out, they say... \$\endgroup\$
    – MirekE
    Jul 9, 2016 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tomfl Oh! That's why describing what you mean by "look like this" is so important. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jul 9, 2016 at 19:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may be able to find some "painting effect" filter that approximates what you want, if that's all you want, but since none of these have any real understanding of the three dimensional nature of the scene and the lighting, they tend to look pretty cheesy (in a bad way — no "cheesecake" pun intended). You can do better with manual digital painting, but that will take skill (to which there really is no shortcut). \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jul 9, 2016 at 19:10

My two cents:

You are new in photography and you are not very good in painting... Do not push yourself too much, but make a real effort to learn.

1) The photo.

Here is a greeeeeeat photoshooot of a coca-cola pinup style session.


If your photo is good, the result is good... so you need to learn photography, ilumination, and work (as already sayed) with profesionals in clothing, makeup, hair and props.

2) The paint.

Painter http://www.painterartist.com/en/product/painter/ is the leader in "paint" software. You can put a photo (the better the photo, the better the result) and paint over it. But again, you need what to look for. Thoose pinups ilustrations was tipically done in acrylic.

This one, filterforge: https://filterforge.com/ also gives interesting results. There are a ton of filters, because it is a comunity feedback system. I like some of the watercolour look (but again, start with a good photo)

From time to time they make an "agressive discount (80%) probably it is the normal price with marketing, but take a look.

3) The "vintage" look

Again, you need what to look for. Low saturation, some overall coloration, etc.


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