Some of the most fun paintings are those that are stylized.That is, they are not photorealistic. Photoshop is obviously excellently equipped to take on such challenges, but it is impossible to cover every situation. Although most stylized matte paintings either have a source painting or line art from which the matte painter works, some stylized looks can be derived from a photo, thereby simplifying and speeding up the process
Pen and Ink
I can give you one example from my past. A long time ago, I did some work for a company that was trying to create an Edward Gorey series. If you are familiar with Gorey’s work, it is a dark, moody, and meticulous ink-drawn style. The look was accurately portrayed—in 3D. To get the look for the textures and backgrounds that I worked on, I drew in ink and scanned it. At the time, I thought that was the fastest way. Let me show you what I wish I’d had back then.
Start by assuming there is a picture that the art director asks you to render in an ink-etch style. Figure shows the image you start out with.
The inspiration image
Apply a filter to a duplicated layer
Don’t worry about the color artifacts showing on the preview. You switch this to grayscale anyway
If you have already pressed OK and closed the Filter Gallery, you can just go to Filter > Brush Strokes > Angled Strokes.
Again, don’t worry about color artifacts. See Figure. Now it’s time to get rid of the color.
Use the angled strokes filter over the crosshatch to break up the uniformity of the previous filter.
You can get this done alternate ways:
Figure shows the slight differences between the different options.
The leftmost image is a straight desaturate and isn’t bad. I decided to use the green channel, however, because of the sky tone balance and the etchy style.
As you can see, the crosshatch and angled strokes still look like a processed photo and can’t pass as an ink illustration.
Notice that the filter’s actual effect is more detailed than the preview. It might take a bit of undoing and retrying to get a look that you like. Even with all the different settings that you try, it may not be enough to get the look you want. I chose Figure.
In this case, I liked the setting I chose, but wanted to have dark windows. That’s why you created a copy of the desaturated image.
I chose this setting because I like the way the sky came in.
To merge the two images I have created, I set the top layer (the one with the dark sky that I liked) to the Darken Layer Blend mode. Since the images are black and white, the white doesn’t affect anything and the dark “ink” is layered on top. The effect was a bit too much, so I brought the opacity down to 57 percent. Last but not least, I touched up the image with a few small brushstrokes on a new layer. Figure is the original and Figure shows the finished product.
I played with the setting to give me the dark windows I wanted.
Your final image’s picture source.
Your final image
I have a picture of where I was sitting in my local Starbucks, and I think it would be perfect for a contemporary cartoon type of look.
You keep swatches of colors used in this image in a custom set. To do that, you have to first clean off the current palette. Unfortunately there is no New Swatch Palette button(don’t ask me why), so you have to delete everything that is there to get a clean slate.
The standard way of deleting a single swatch color is to simply drag the swatch to the trash icon. But that can be a drag(no pun intended) if you have to do that to each and every swatch. Here is the secret shortcut.
Remember, I’m a proponent of laziness:
You see the cursor become a pair of scissors; each click cuts away the swatch. As far as I know, you can’t select them all and cut once, but this way is pretty fast.
The empty Swatches palette
You can go through the palette menu or simply click an empty section of the Swatches palette.
Add the current foreground color as a new swatch
Name the color swatch with a descriptive moniker.
The Pen Tool
Now that you have the color of the coffee cup, define the area in which the color is used.
The moment you start, you see a new Shape layer appear. The mask reflects the path you are creating. Figure shows the cup.
Starting to create the cup shape.
These handles are tangent to the point. You can adjust one or both of them to change the curvature of the lines coming in and out of that point. If you want a hard corner, click without dragging; the lines come into that point at a hard/straight angle.
Continue tracing around the cup until you reach your starting point. Because you are doing this as a filled shape layer, you can see your outline filling in with the color you chose for the cup.
You see an O appear near the tip of the pen. This indicates that clicking that point closes the curve.
This is just the beginning.
Have Photoshop do the shadow for you.
It’s getting there.
Transforming a selection.
Your work in progress.
Now you get the basic idea and can do this for the chair and its shadows, saving colors and making paths. The process is pretty forgiving. You can choose which details contribute toward your painting and which ones you can gloss over. I left some of the edges rough; they did not follow the outline of an object exactly. It adds to the contemporary print feel. Your image should look similar to Figure.
When you have taken care of each element, give your setting a background.
All that remains to be done is the background; the image on the right is the same as the left, but with the source photo hidden.
Creating a gradient backdrop.
The final product is an interesting modern graphic shown in Figure.
These stylized images are just examples of the possibilities that Photoshop offers. It shows what a little ingenuity can do. Your imagination is your palette, and the world is your canvas. Don’t you feel so empowered?
Fit for a poster!
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Adobe Photoshop Tutorial
Preferences And Settings
Customizing Your Workspace
Starting With Color Maps
Tiling And Transformations
Matte Paintings From Pictures
Quick Fixes For Common Problems
Masks And Mattes
Noise And Grain
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