In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to take a photograph and turn it into a hand drawn distressed illustration. We will go through how to use effects to make your photo look hand drawn and then we will prepare the file so that it is a single color. I will show you how to cut a complex object from the main shape so you can easily place the object on any color background. Let’s get started.
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Step 1: To begin, you will want to prepare your image in Photoshop. This effect is going to look best with a simple, isolated object. I am going to start by isolating the image of my skull here.
Step 2: For my image, I have isolated the skull from the background and also removed the bottom jaw. When you are done isolating the image, make a copy of the layer.
Step 3: With the copy of your object selected, go to Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges. Your settings with vary. What you want to do is look at where the brightest lines are being generated. These will become the strokes of your final illustration, so make sure your image has enough lines… but not too many.
Step 4: Once you are happy, click OK. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Invert. Then Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. This will give you a better idea of what the lines are going to look like once imported into Illustrator.
Step 5: Open up Illustrator and create a new document. In Photoshop, press Ctrl + A to select the artboard, with the outlines layer selected, press Ctrl + C to copy. Go to Illustrator and press Ctrl + V to paste the image into Illustrator.
Step 6: Back to Photoshop. Select the original layer and cut from Photoshop and paste into Illustrator on a new layer. The images should line up fine with one another without having to do anything extra.
Step 7: Now we are done with the Photoshop portion. In Illustrator, select the unaltered image and go to Effect > Artistic > Poster Edges…
Step 8: Again, the settings here are going to depend on your image. As you adjust your sliders, you are going to shoot for getting a good solid outline around the main portions of the image, but remember that in the next step the darkest part of your image is going to be solid black, so make sure you don’t overdo it. For my image, the Edge Thickness at 5, Intensity at 8 and Posterization at 2 looks good.
Step 9: With the image still selected, Click on the Live Trace menu and then Tracing Options.
Step 10: For the Mode, select “Black and White”. Leave the defaults, but adjust the Threshold until you are happy. Again, this step will depend on your image, but you are looking to fill in the darkest area and have a bit of stipple shading in the mid-tone area. For my image, the Threshold at 100 looks good. Click on Trace, but don’t expand just yet.
Step 11: Turn on the layer that we used the Glowing edge filter on in Photoshop. Click on the Live Trace menu again and go to Tracing Options. This time, I am going to select “inked drawing” for the Mode. You can see where your lines are. Again, adjust the threshold, leaving everything else at default until you are happy with the lines.
Step 12: Expand both of the traces. The second one will have outlines, which you will also want to expand to fills. Go to Object > Expand Click OK.
Step 13: Select everything from both layers (Ctrl + A). Then, through the Pathfinder, click on Divide.
Step 14: With the direct select tool (A) click on one of the black objects, then go to Select > Same > Fill color. Then through the pathfinder again click on Unite.
Step 15: I’ve put a background behind the image so you can see that we still have a white box around the image. If you are lucky, your image’s outlines will have cut the box, however if it didn’t, that is an easy fix.
Step 16: Double clicking on the white border, I can see that some of the teeth didn’t get separated. So, I am going to draw an extra line here.
Step 17: Draw a new outline for any area that doesn’t cut through the white part. Expand your strokes and repeat steps 13 and 14 again.
Step 18: When you have successfully created a full outline, you will be able to click and delete the white border.
Step 19: Now for a little clean up. I am going to remove the bulk of the stippling, leaving just a bit. To do this, simply double click on one of the stipple bits to enter isolation mode and start removing. This is a good use for the Lasso Tool.
Step 20: Since I decided to do a clean up after I already cut out the white, you’ll find that you are left with little holes. Just double click the white area you have holes in, right click then select “Release Compound Path”. All the white parts will still be selected, so Unite them through the Pathfinder.
Step 21: Here I changed my background to #2B2B2B and the White parts to #DBCEBB. I have also changed the outlines to a bright pink so you can see that we want the background color to show through where the outlines are.
Step 22: Now, just to make sure everything is together, use the direct select tool (A) to select all of the outline bits (the pink bits in my example). With all of them selected, click on Unite in the pathfinder again. Do the same thing for the fill. With everything except the background selected, click on “Divide” again.
Step 23: With the direct select tool, click on one of the outline areas then go to Select > Same > Fill. This will select all of the outlines. Delete them! Now you have just the fill shape and the outlines are cut out. You can see that the pink square shows through, which shows we have a successful cut.
Step 24: Now I am going to distress the image even further by adding some cracks to it. For this I am going to use one of our seamless cracked paint textures for Illustrator. This bundle comes with a set of seamless textures you can load up right through the swatches panel. It also has full images in .Ai and .EPS. The set also includes Photoshop textures, brushes and PNG files.
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Step 25: Load up the seamless Illustrator crack patterns by clicking on the Swatches panel menu, then click on Open Swatch Library > Other Library… Navigate to where you saved the swatch file and open them up. Here I have drawn out a square and applied Swatch 6 to it.
Step 26: Once you are happy with the placement. Expand the pattern by going to Object > Expand > Fill. The bounds of these patterns will serve as a method of cropping the excess off the edges without having to expand anything, so after the first Fill Expand, simply click on “Crop” through the pathfinder.
Step 27: This will both crop and expand the texture. Select the texture as well as the Main image and click on “Divide” like we did in step 22. Since the pattern is black, it will be easy to remove, simply use the direct select to select one of the black parts, the go to Select > Same > Fill Color and delete like we did in step 23.
Step 28: All this dividing and cutting is going to leave some blank artifacts on your image. To find and remove them, all you have to do is draw out and unfilled, unstroked object, then go to Select > Same > Fill & Stroke and delete them. As you can see I have quite a few of those little rascals on my design.
Step 29: As you can see, all of that intricate detail is neatly cut out of the main object’s shape.
Step 30: And because this was done in Illustrator, it only take a few seconds to change the image’s color and background.
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