Tutorial – Illustrative style technique

Here is the first post in the tutorial category, which I will use to go through tutorials step by step that my tutor showed our group and have helped me to increase my knowledge of how in this case, Adobe Photoshop can be used. This style can be great for making a photo look like a painting or to change the properties of an illustration that has been scanned in.

  1. I downloaded the relevant files I needed from Moodle, the online Virtual Learning Environment used by K College.
  2. Open the ‘Buildings’ image in Photoshop. 
  3. Double click on padlock in the layers palette on the ‘background’ layer to bring up a dialog box. Clicking OK unlocks it and makes it Layer 0. Now it can be edited.
  4. As the canvas is a bit restricted in size, go to Image > Canvas Size, and enter the new dimensions you want the canvas to be. There is a centre box, with arrows around it. For this tutorial, click the centre box, but if you wanted the canvas expanded in a particular dimension, click on the relevant arrow. Click OK when decided.
  5. Go to Filter > Artistic > Cutout, where a dialog box with the image in will be prepared. Here settings can be altered; Number of Levels determines how detailed the image looks from 0 (very abstract) to 8 (vector style). I went for 8. Edge Simplicity determines how crisp or blurred it looks from 0 (crisp) to 8 (blurred). I wanted it to be rather crisp so I chose 1 for that. Click OK to confirm. 
  6. From Finder on a Apple or Windows Explorer for PC drag in the ‘palm tree’ photo. Fit to size and hit enter to confirm its place (it automatically goes to a new layer)
  7. This layer needs rasterizing so Photoshop recognises it. In the layers palette there is a small white rectangle over the preview image for that layer. Right clicking on that layer (or Cmd + click for some Mac users) brings up a list where Rasterize Layer can be selected. 
  8. Next the blue background needs to be removed from the ‘palm tree’ image. This is a quick method, the Pen Tool would do a better job but take far far longer, not necessary for this tutorial. To do this, select the Magic Wand, and click on an area of blue. Then go to Select > Similar and do this three or four times until all the blue is selected. Then hit the backspace key to remove it. 
  9. Apply Step 5 to the ‘palm tree’ image.
  10. Press Cmd + T to transform the image, allowing you to move it around the canvas, and position where the large palm tree looks best.
  11. Select the Lasso Tool, draw around the smaller palm tree loosely, then go to the Move Tool, and move it to wherever is best in terms of composition. I moved it to the left of the canvas. Press Cmd + D to deselect.
  12. Drag the ‘Cuban car’ file into Photoshop (this will automatically be in a new layer) and use the Transform shortcut mentioned earlier to size it to suit and position it where it looks best.
  13. Apply Step 5 to the ‘Cuban car’ image.

So that gets us to the stage where the image is done. Now we need to create a custom brush to ‘decorate the image.

  1. Open a new Photoshop document of a size large enough to contain a letter.
  2. Type one character in any typeface. I went for ‘O’. This will be the brush used to ‘decorate’ the image.
  3. Select the character using the Magic Wand Tool, then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Give the brush a recognisable name.

Now we can go back to the other document and make the changes to the settings before using the brush to decorate the image.

  1. Select the Brush tool.
  2. Go to Window > Brush Presets, to bring up that palette and select the new brush. 
  3. I then bought up the Brush palette, and from there can change settings. I personally ticked the Shape Dynamics box to alter tip variation of the brush, selected the sub-palette and slid the Angle Jitter to 25% which randomly rotates the angle of the brush strokes and the Size Jitter to 40% to vary the size. I then ticked the Scattering box and selected that sub-palette and ticked the Both Axes box to allow variation along the X and Y axes and slid the slider to around 460%. 
  4. From there, I used the [ and ] keys to decrease and increase the size of the brush and selected the Eyedropper Tool and clicked on the colour I wanted the brush to take on. Then I went back to the Brush Tool and brushed away.

That should be it! You should have an image something like this: