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Transform Pictures Into Illustrations

Have you ever thought of designing a wallpaper for your beloved pet? Or have you encountered a time where you wish to change a picture into illustration? That’s what we are going to show you in this tutorial.

Before & After:

Step 1

Dog Image ID: 774262 © Eric Isselée To begin with, open an image of your favourite animal or pet dog and move it to a 300 Resolution file size with Width 1680 pixels and Height 1050 pixels. Check your computer screen resolution to help you decide on the appropriate size. Setting the right image size at the beginning of this project is crucial as it could influence the whole image composition to change it in later stage. Set the Background Contents to Transparent if you want to be able to track the effects easily.

Step 2

Use your preferred masking method to mask out your object. For this tutorial, I’m going to use the Channel Mask.

Go to Channels Window > Blue Channel > duplicate Blue Channel. Go to Image > Adjustments > Curves or press Ctrl + M to turn the object black. Use the Brush Tool to cover up any grey areas/holes and make sure the dog is completely black before moving on to the next step.

Step 3

Hold Ctrl + Click on the Blue Channel copy to make your selection.

Step 4

Click on the Layers Window and go to Select > Inverse (press Ctrl + Shift + I) to invert the selection.

Step 5

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection or press the icon shown below in the Layers Window to add a layer mask to the selection. Step 6

Whenever you are trying to create an illustration pattern, always remember that the first thing you’ll need to do is to simplified the object’s edges. Go to Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges. The setting is entirely up to your preference. But I’ve set mine to Edge Thickness: 6, Edge Intensity: 0, Posterization: 6. Once you are done with it, this is what you should be getting.

Step 7

The second thing you’ll need to do is to make the object lose more details and become somewhat ‘graphical’. Go to Filter > Artistic > Cutout. Set the Number of levels: 8, Edge Simplicity: 0, Edge Fidelity: 3. You might feel that the sharpness and contrast is not strong enough. This can be solved in the following steps.

Step 8

Go to Layer > Duplicate Layers to duplicate another dog copy.

Step 9

Go to Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges again to enhance the edges of the dog. Set it to Edge Thickness: 3, Edge Intensity: 0, Posterization: 2.

Step 10

When I’ve completed the Poster Edges effect, set this dog copy layer to Soft Light mode and Opacity 75%.

Step 11

Hold Shift, select both dog layers and Merge them (Ctrl + E).

Step 12

We’ll now move on to the background. Find a nice scenery picture and paste it to the bottom of the dog layer. Here, you can remove the transparent Layer 1 which we won’t be needing anymore.

Background Image ID: 3219389 © Ewan Chesser Step 13

In the following steps, apply the same Poster Edges effect on this scenery image. Go toFilter > Artistic > Poster Edges. Set the background to Edge Thickness: 6, Edge Intensity: 0, Posterization: 6.

Step 14

Then, go to Filter > Artistic > Cutout and set Number of levels: 6, Edge Simplicity: 1, Edge Fidelity: 1. Once completed, the background should have the same matching concept as the object which I’ve just created.

Step 15 For better results, I’ve also added some birds and dogs at the background. You may skip this if you think it is unnecessary for your artwork.


Birds Image ID: 3227420 © Anatoli Dubkov

Dogs Image ID: 2059777 © beardean

Next, flatten the background and dog layer in the Layers Window. Go to Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges and follow these settings – Edge Thickness: 6, Edge Intensity: 1, Posterization: 6.

Whenever I combine different objects together, I’ll usually flatten the layer first before moving on to the next set of filters or effects. By doing so, you’ll ensure that the image is similar and unified. This is an important aspect for any artwork because we should never let the viewer feel that there are two different objects joining together. Everything should be done as delicate as possible.

Step 16

Go to Layers > Duplicate Layer (press Ctrl + J) to make new copy. Use your favorite tools toadjust the color or atmosphere until you are satisfied with the outcome.

Step 17

We are almost done with the illustration effect. The final step is to make the whole image look more illustrative. Go to Filter > Artistic > Paint Daubs and set Brush Size: 4, Sharpness: 4, Brush Type: Simple.

Step 18

If you feel that the color and effect is too strong, change the Lighten mode to opacity 68%. After that, go to Layer > Flatten Image to combine the background and layer 1 together.

Step 19

I tried to create a depth of field for the background that will make the artwork more realistic and soft. To do this, press Ctrl + J to duplicate another layer. Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blureffect to create a blurry background. Settings should be based on your background and how much depth of field you want to achieve. Always feel free to experience the settings to get better results.

Go back to Blue copy in the Channel Window and hold Ctrl + Click to make a selection for the background. Next, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to apply the masking. When you are done, change this layer 1 opacity to 25%. This should help create a more subtle blur effect.

Step 20

Once you’re satisfied with the results, flatten the image again to get your final artwork. Hope you enjoy the tutorial.

Note from editor: Poster Edges, Cut Out and Paint Daubs are the main tools to use if one wish to create similar illustration effects. They can always be used on images that you wish to change from picture format to illustration. Experience a combination of these filters and be surprised by the final outcome.

If you liked our tutorial, feel free to share it with your friends or even bookmark it! Also, do check out our affordable credit prices to get images where you can create stunning works of art.

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