How to Create Smudge Painting Effect in Photoshop

How to Create Smudge Painting Effect in Photoshop:

Creating a smudge painting effect in Photoshop involves using the Smudge tool to blend and smear colors, giving the image a painterly appearance. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Open Your Image:

  1. Launch Photoshop and open the image you want to turn into a smudge painting.

2. Duplicate the Layer:

  1. Right-click on the background layer in the Layers panel and choose “Duplicate Layer.”

3. Convert to Smart Object:

  1. With the duplicated layer selected, right-click, and choose “Convert to Smart Object.” This step allows for non-destructive editing.

4. Apply a Gaussian Blur:

  1. With the Smart Object layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  2. Apply a subtle blur to smooth out details. Adjust the radius until you achieve a balance between softness and clarity.

5. Create a New Layer for Smudging:

  1. Create a new layer above the blurred layer.

6. Select the Smudge Tool:

  1. Choose the Smudge tool from the toolbar. It looks like a pointing hand.

7. Adjust Smudge Tool Settings:

  1. In the options bar at the top, adjust the settings such as Strength, Mode, and Brush options.
  2. Experiment with different brush shapes and sizes to achieve the desired smudging effect.

8. Smudge the Image:

  1. With the new layer selected, start smudging the image by dragging the tool over areas you want to blend and soften.
  2. Use varying pressure and strokes to create different effects.

9. Fine-Tune Details:

  1. Zoom in and use a smaller brush for fine details, such as facial features or intricate areas.

10. Add Color (Optional):

  1. Create new layers if you want to add additional colors to the smudged areas. Use the Brush tool to paint over the image with various colors.
  2. Set the blending mode of the color layers to “Overlay” or “Color” for a more natural blend.

11. Adjust Opacity (Optional):

  1. Adjust the opacity of the smudge and color layers to control the intensity of the effect.

12. Add Texture (Optional):

  1. Create a new layer and fill it with a texture or pattern.
  2. Set the blending mode to “Overlay” or “Soft Light” to add texture to the painting.

13. Final Adjustments:

  1. Make any final adjustments using adjustment layers (Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation) to enhance colors and contrast.

14. Save Your Smudge Painting:

  1. Save your work in Photoshop format (File > Save or File > Save As).
  2. Export the image for sharing or printing (File > Export > Export As).


  • Experiment with Brushes: Try different brush shapes and sizes for unique smudging effects.
  • Control Opacity: Adjust the opacity of the Smudge tool for more control over the blending.
  • Combine Techniques: Combine smudging with painting and other effects for a more complex and artistic result.

Creating a smudge painting requires experimentation and artistic interpretation. Feel free to explore different brushes, settings, and additional elements to achieve a unique and personalized smudge painting effect.

How to Create Smudge Painting Effect in Photoshop
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