Markthal, Katendrecht and other Rotterdam Paintifications

Rotterdam, as you may know, is packed with tall buildings. But unfortunately most of those buildings are not accessible if you don’t live or work there. And that’s a pity because the city is at its most beautiful and surprising when viewing it from a higher point of view.

Digital painting of railway bridge De Hef in Rotterdam in a golden frame
The Hef from a higher point of view

Higher ground

Fortunately, in every year there are those days when you suddenly can get to places that are otherwise off-limits: Architecture Day, Construction Day, Heritage Day. Over the years, I ‘ve been able to look at my city from above many times.

The photographs I made on those occasions now provide a basis for a new series of paintifications I’m working on. Here is the first one: Katendrecht and the former cruiseship SS Rotterdam as seen from the World Port Center on Wilhelminapier:

Paintification SS Rotterdam
Katendrecht and the SS Rotterdam

Filtered photographs

Paintifications are manipulated photographs. Photoshop has a large number of “filters” that transform a photograph into, for example, a watercolor within a few seconds. But after a while that becomes a little boring.

I therefore combine a number of filters (colored pencil, cutout, spatter and palette knife), putting them in layers with different blending modes. Then I adjust for each layer the color and brightness. Using the filter “glowing borders”, I also put a line drawing on top of the package. Then I add a canvas or paper texture and a suggestion of the relief that a physical painting has.

Finally, I try to make certain elements in the composition stand out better, for example by making the environment less saturated; in the image of the SS Rotterdam I did that with the ship itself, at the expense of the background.

The result probably is appreciated best if we look at it from a little closer:

Zooming in on the SS Rotterdam


The whole process has a certain unpredictability: colors are enhanced, shapes stand out more than in the original photo. Beforehand it is difficult to say what will work and what won’t. Sometimes the result looks great, sometimes it doesn’t.

Of course I only show the good results. Below, for example, we see the view from the top floor of the new building of Erasmus Medical Centre. Lloyd Quarter is in the foreground, in the background are Waalhaven and other harbours:

Paintification Lloyd Quarter
Lloyd Quarter and Waalhaven


Finally a picture with two Rotterdam icons. From left to right: Saint Lawrence Church and the Market Hall; with also some other landmarks like the Pencil and the Willems Bridge, and a prominent role for the green-white-green Rotterdam flag:

Paintification Saint Lawrence Church and Market Hall
Saint Lawrence Church and Markthal


These, and other, paintifications can also be admired, and if desired, purchased, in the online gallery below, powered by Werk aan de Muur

Digital painting of Blaak Forest, a.k.a. the Cube Houses, in Rotterdam, in a classic frame
The Cube Houses, in a classic frame

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