I'll be recording my next lynda.com title, Transforming a Photograph into a Painting with Photoshop CS6, in a couple of weeks. I'm dividing the content into 2 sections: Image Preparation and Expressive Painting. The above image represents the finished result of the example I'll be using.
A key difference between traditional and digital painting technique is centered on the marriage of image content and brushstroke expressivity.
In traditional painting, these two interrelated functions are simultaneously accomplished: the artist is largely describing the image content while at the same time expressing himself through the manner in which he brush applies paint to the canvas.
In digital expressive interpretation, the image content —typically a photograph— is prepared as a separate function apart from the brushstrokes. Once the image content is constructed according to the artist's wishes, expressive brushwork is applied by utilizing the prepared photo as the color palette. In other words, the image flows through the brush as the artist focuses on expressivity.
By separating the image content and brushwork, the artist is free to focus exclusively on each function. This presents a workflow by which image elements like color, composition, and story-telling are initially portrayed via a thoughtfully prepared image and personal emotional expression is later communicated via hand-wrought brushwork.
Below is the initial photograph prior to crafting it into cohesive story-telling content.