Make Your Own Norman Rockwells With Photoshop

Norman Rockwells

Norman Rockwell was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His meticulously detailed paintings appeared as illustrations in various publications over the years, and the subject matter, style and arrangement exemplified Americana. A rough approximation can be done by almost anyone using the tools of Photoshop.

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Step 1

Set up a Rockwell type scene. This will require models (family and friends will do). You will also need props and clothing typical of the 40s or 50s to match the time period Rockwell is best known for. Take a photo of the scene. Rockwell himself based his works on photos he took in carefully arranged studio shots. Then load the photo from your digital camera onto your computer.

Step 2

Start the Photoshop application. Select “File” from the menu and choose “Open.” In the dialog that appears, locate and open the photo you loaded.

Step 3

Go to the “Layers” panel, right-click on the background layer and choose “Duplicate Layer.” Do this again.

Step 4

With the new top layer selected, select “Filter” from the menu and choose “Blur.” From the options, choose “Smart Blur.” Make all the numerical settings 50, set the “Quality” to “High” and click “OK.”

Step 5

Select the “Eraser” tool from the toolbar, setting it to a 50 percent “Opacity” and “Flow.” Go back to the canvas and very carefully add a bit of detail by erasing in areas where you need more after the blur. Don’t go too far, since you don’t want to completely under the blur effect.

Step 6

Right-click on the top layer and choose “Merge Down.” Duplicate the top layer.

Step 7

Select “Filter” from the menu and choose “Stylize.” From the options, choose “Glowing Edges.” In the dialog, play with the settings until you like the result. The exact numbers will vary with the photo, but the goal it to get a detailed sketch. Click “OK.”

Step 8

Click “CTRL + I” to invert the image. Then hit “Shift + CTRL + U” to desaturate the image.

Step 9

Go to the “Layers” panel and change the “Blend Mode” to “Multiply.” Then drop the “Opacity” to 75 percent.

Step 10

Duplicate the middle layer and invert it. Then drag it to the top of the layers and change the “Blend Mode” to “Color Dodge.”

Step 11

Select the “Brush” tool from the toolbar and choose one of the dry brushes. Set the brush “Opacity” and “Flow” to about 50.

Step 12

Paint over background sections of the canvas. For things like people and similar detailed items, drop the brush settings to about 25. Use the “Eraser” tool to remove the edges of the painting to give it a more watercolor appearance. Save your work.

The degree to which this process results in a picture that looks like a Rockwell depends on how much effort and time you can devote to it. A great deal of the artistry involved relies on creating a balance between the effects. The last step in particular makes an enormous difference in how the final product looks.