Turn a photo into an illustration from a comic book in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to add a comic effect to your photo using halftones, outline paths and solid colors. As a result, you get a retro-style image of pop art.


I recently returned from Comic Con, and it inspired me for today’s lesson. I’m going to show you how to create a comic from a regular image. This Photoshop lesson consists of three steps.

  1. Dotted halftones
  2. Contour stroke
  3. Solid colors to convey comic style

This step-by-step video tutorial explains everything simply and in detail.

Step 1. Make colors dimmer

Start with the original photo. Double duplicate the background layer by clicking Ctrl+ J. Alternatively, you can drag it to the icon New layer (New Layer). As a result, we should have two new copies.

Step 2

Now let’s group these two layers. Select them, right-click, and then select Group layers (Group from Layers) or click Ctrl + G. The reason why we needed to do this – we need to apply Blend mode (Blend Mode) only for these two layers, without affecting the rest.

Select the top layer, change its blending mode to Hard mix (Hard Mix).

If you want to learn more about Blending Modes, check out the free book. I also have a video in which I talk about this Photoshop tool.

Step 3

Cut down Opacity (Opacity) up to 40%. This will give a good result. Please note that as soon as we reduce the opacity, the number of colors is also quickly reduced, giving the photo a comic effect.

Step 4. Points

The next necessary step is to use dotted halftone to make the photo look as if printed with a low linear raster. Highlight the group, right-click and select Convert to smart object (Smart Object).

Step 5

Now we can apply filters to it. Let’s add tiny dots, creating the effect of printing on a printer. Go to menu Filter> Appearance> Halftones (Filter> Pixelize> Color Halftone). This filter has no preview. You cannot see the result before applying it, but now the radius is set to 8 pixels. This means that the largest pixel will be equal to 8. Let’s raise this value to 12.

Step 6

The only problem is that we are losing a lot of details because the semitone is too strong. It can be mixed with the original image using the created Smart Filter (Smart Filter).

See this little smart filter icon in the panel Layers (Layers)? If you double click on it, the overlay settings window opens. Cut down Opacity (Opacity) up to 42%, then click OK.

Step 7. Stroke the contours.

Everything is fine, we are almost done. Now we really do not have enough stroke, which will emphasize the details of our superhero.

Return to the background layer. Click Ctrl + J, making another copy, then drag it up.

Step 8

We will create a linear pattern from this particular layer. Go to menu Filter> Styling> Edge selection (Filter> Stylize> Find Edges).

At the beginning, the effect will look strange because of the many colors and details, so we need to adjust it a little, it’s not difficult.

Step 9. Clear the Stroke

Now we need levels. Click Ctrl +L, we will apply them to the layer. You can create levels as an adjustment layer, but I can do without it. Drag the black triangle to the right and notice how the stroke became thicker or more pronounced.

Of course, there is still something to work on. To remove too much, drag the white slider to the left.

See how we cleaned the shades of white. Select the small gray slider and drag it to the left. You will notice how the details have shrunk dramatically. We will get a great stroke, just have to click OK.

Step 10

Convert layer to black and white by clicking Ctrl + Shift + U. We got a stroke, which remains only to mix with the points below it.

Step 11

Blending modes come to the rescue. Will work best Overlap (Overlay).

Notice how the black and white lines blend into our dots and now we get the comic effect.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Share this article on social networks, and if you have any questions, write them in the comments!

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