How to Make a Print Look Like a Painting

Recently, a customer came in the store with a really rich, relatively large print of a Rembrandt painting, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. It was unusually commanding for a reproduction on paper. As such, it was asking for something a little different than the typical mat/glass/frame treatment.

Mike got the idea to frame it like an original painting- just a big, chunky frame around it with no glass or mat. Granted, a sheet of paper alone won’t fool anybody, so we revived a seldom-used, nearly forgotten technique to enhance the illusion.

It’s a really simple technique, mostly sleight of hand. All you need is a glossy acrylic gel medium and a variety of brushes. After applying a coat of gel medium, the picture will possess the texture, depth, and sheen of an original.

Now, don’t lose your mind and do this to every print you own. It’s seldom-used because it is most appropriate in very particular scenarios.

This print is a great example of when to employ this technique. First, it’s a 15th century painting, and a Rembrandt at that. Most of us have to opt for the next best thing when it comes to art worth millions. Secondly, it was stolen. So, if you’re a snob like me and accept no substitutes, the original can’t even be seen in museums anymore. Thirdly, there’s just something about the image. It works.

If you do choose to try this technique out for yourself, here’s a couple pointers to make the whole enterprise more convincing:

-The old masters would apply darks in thin glazes and lights thickly. So, the whitest part of the image would have the thickest paint most likely. Apply the gel thickly where the highlights are strong, and thinly in the dark and middle tones.

-Follow the strokes in the painting. Apply the gel as though you were actually making the painting. Don’t apply huge, sweeping strokes in highly detailed areas and vice versa.


Thanks for reading, and good luck if you try this out.

4 thoughts on “How to Make a Print Look Like a Painting

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