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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques! This week I am going to show you how to take this fellow here and turn him into an ink drawing, and it's so simple. It's just a matter of Gaussian Blur, Smart Blur, High Pass, Note Paper, another round of Gaussian Blur, a levels adjustment layer, the multiply blend mode, and a little bit of luminance blending and we end up getting this terrific effect. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here's how it's going to work. We are going to start with this guy here who comes to us from Warren Goldswain of the Fotolia Image Library, and notice that I have got him on an independent layer.
There is some notebook paper with an inky frame behind him. That also comes from Fotolia. I am going to turn him back on here. And we're going to ultimately convert him into this ink drawing here, and when I say ink drawing, I am using quote fingers, because it looks like a combo of a little bit of ink, maybe some photocopying, that kind of thing. But we do have some nice line elements going on inside of there, and I think this eyebrow treatment just rocks. You can see that it's a combination of Smart Filters working together and a few other effects as well. All right, so let's switch back to the image at hand.
Now the first step is to grab this guy here, right-click on him there inside the Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object, the reason being I want to apply editable Smart Filters. That way not only is he protected, but also at the end I can show you the contribution of those filters, how they work. All right, now I am going to press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on a Mac, to make a copy of that layer. It's linked to the exact same Smart Object, so if you decide to retouch this guy, just double-click on one of these thumbnails, make your modifications, and both layers will update.
All right, I am going to turn off the bottom portrait. We will come back to it in a moment. Now we're going to create our--again, in quote fingers--ink drawing here. I am going to go up to the Filter menu, and I am going to choose Blur, and I am going to choose Gaussian Blur, and that might seem like a strange place to start, but what we're going to be doing is telling Photoshop to trace all of the details inside of the image. And if we don't blur things upfront, we are going to end up tracing way too much, all kinds of pores and basically other blemishes on this guy's face. I mean we all have them. So I am going to go ahead and choose the command, and notice my radius value is one pixel.
That's all we need. Click OK. All right, the next step is to use a filter I never ever, ever, use. I don't really recommend it, but it works very well for this purpose here. I will go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur and choose Smart Blur. I experimented with the Surface Blur filter; it just didn't do the trick. So we're going with Smart Blur, which is hardly smart, by the way. It ends up creating these whacky effects. You can see this is hardly a blur effect that's going on inside the dialog box here. But again, it ends up reticulating the edges in such a way that the final effect works out pretty nicely.
I am going to set the Radius to 3.0, the Threshold to 10, so we're blurring inside of that threshold. In other words, we're leaving the better details in good shape, so we're not blurring them. And then the Quality should be set to High. By default it's set to Low, which is just screwy. Why would you want low quality? And then Mode should be Normal. Click OK in order to apply that filter. It's not going to look all that different, though it is going to take forever. It's very slow filter. Now, I'll go up to the Filter menu. This time around I am going to go ahead and choose Other and choose High Pass, and this is one of the really key filters for this effect.
Basically, you're going through and delineating details like crazy. If you're new to High Pass Filter, if you've never used it, it looks like it just makes the image entirely gray, but what it really does is make the non-details gray and keep the details in fairly good shape. I am going to set the Radius to 2.0. Now all these values you can monkey with as you're applying them to your own image, but this is what I came up with for this one. I'll click OK. Next, the fourth filter that we're going to apply here is another filter I never use. Oh, by the way, before you apply it, make sure to press the D key to establish your default colors of black for the foreground and white for the background; otherwise, you'll get a weird colored effect.
Then go up to the Filter menu, choose Sketch, and choose Note Paper. Now, Note Paper is basically simplifying this effect, and you can get the simplified effect that we're looking for here. Notice it's turning the image gray for me. For you, the Graininess and the Relief values are probably cranked up like this, which is great if you want to make the guy look like he's etched in bark or something. I don't know what. But I'm going to go ahead and take Relief down to 0 and take Graininess down to 0 as well. Leave Image Balance at 25. Just about any other setting will totally mess things up, but you can experiment with it, and see how it messes things up.
And then click OK in order to apply that effect, and we end up getting this weird sort of stark effect here that doesn't look anything like an ink drawing. It doesn't look like we're going down the right road at all, but you'll see in a moment; we are. And then finally what I like to do at this stage, because if you zoom in on your effect, you're going to see that you've got some very jagged edges, because the Note Paper filter applies a Threshold effect--that is to say either the pixels turn white or they turn gray in this case. What we need to do is soften things up a little bit, and we're going to do that by going to the Filter menu, choosing Blur, and again choosing Gaussian Blur, so right where we started. And I'm going to apply a Radius of 1 pixel, once again the exact same radius. Click OK.
Now, that blurs the pixels in and out. I just want to blur outward, and I want to darken things up as well obviously. So I am going to double-click on this little slider icon over here on the right-hand side that's next to the words Gaussian Blur. That's going to bring up the Blending Options dialog box, and I'm going to change the Mode from Normal to Multiply. So we're multiplying that blur into the background. We still have some jagged edges this way, but we have a little bit of bleed into that "paper" that's behind there.
All right, I'll click OK. And just because we're cluttering up this Layers panel like crazy here, I am going to right- click inside this little Filter Mask and I am going to choose Delete Filter Mask, just to tidy things up. All right! The next step is to darken up to this grayness here and make it black. So I am going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, click and hold that Black/White icon down there at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose the Levels command, and that's going to bring up the New Layer dialog box, because I have the Alt or Option key down. And I am going to go ahead and call this new layer Contrast and turn on Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, very important. Click OK.
Then you'll find yourself inside the Adjustments panel. I want you to drag that black point right there, that Black slider triangle, to the beginning of the histogram--so in other words, the beginning of these lumps here. And for me, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of let's say 130, just to round things off. And then I'm going to click inside this Gamma value right there, the one that says 1.00, and I'm going to press Shift+Down Arrow three times in order to darken the mid tones. So we're darkening the effect overall, and I'll go ahead and hide the Adjustments panel, because we're done with it.
Now let's go and zoom out to check out what we've done. I want to multiply him into the background, in other words burn him into the background, lose that white and keep the black. So I'll click on the Portrait layer to make it active, then I'll go up to the Blend Mode pop-up menu and change it from Normal to Multiply, and I end up getting this effect. Now if you look at it, you might figure it kind of passes for an ink drawing at this point, but who on earth would draw an image like this? Why would you draw basically trace around the mouth and not fill it in, trace around the eyes, and not fill them in, trace around the hair like this and make it look like he's got a bald patch or something and not fill it in? You wouldn't.
You'd fill those areas in, so we need to do so as well, and that's why I've got this other layer sitting around here, this other copy of that Smart Object. I am going to go ahead and turn it on by obviously clicking its eyeball, and then I will click on the Portrait layer in order to make it active. And I am going to go ahead and change this guy to the Multiply blend mode as well, by going up here to Blend Mode pop-up menu, choosing Multiply. And then finally, I want to draw up out the light details, just keep the dark details there, and so I will double- click on the empty portion of that layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog box, and then I'll go to the This Layers slider bar right there, and I will drag this white slider triangle all the way down, in my case to about 95. See that value that's changing right there? So what this is saying is anything with a Luminance level of 95 or lighter is now invisible on this layer.
That gives us some very harsh transitions, so let's soften things up by pressing the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and dragging the right half of that white triangle to 180. So you can see 180 after the slash, and we end up getting this effect here. I will click OK in order to accept that modification, and that is the final version of the effect. But I want you to have a sense for why we did the things we did. Now, I think both the final Gaussian Blur filter, I think that makes perfect sense, and Note Paper, you saw how it worked, so why don't we see the contribution of the other three? I am going to click on this eyeball here, and drag down to turn off those three first filters we applied, and you can see, without High Pass, Smart Blur, or Gaussian Blur, we end up getting this pretty darn cool effect right here.
So this is a little meta-technique for you. If you want to get this effect, you just need to apply those two filters, and of course, run through the other steps as well. But you end up getting this high contrast photocopy effect. If you want to trace the lines, that's what High Pass is there for. I'll go ahead and turn it on so you can get a sense. But if it was just up to High Pass, we would have way too much detail. This guy looks like I drew him with an Etch-a-Sketch. I'm just that good. Then in order to simplify things, so we don't have quite this degree of granularity of the iron filings on this guy's face, I use Smart Blur.
So if you turn that on, you're going to see that smoothes out some of the details inside of his face. It also gives us some of these etched details as well. So it does these sort of strange horizontal carvings in different places, which are pretty cool. Actually, I think that's pretty nice, ultimately, where this effect is concerned anyway. And then finally, Gaussian Blur, that very first application of Gaussian Blur, just helped to simplify the details that much more, so that he doesn't have too much in a way of sort of pockmarks inside of his face. And that's going to help you out as well. It doesn't matter what kind of person you're trying to trace, whether the young or old or what have you, this technique is going to produce some pretty nice effects.
So I am going to go ahead and press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with this guy, and that is how you create an ink drawing, in quote fingers, here inside Photoshop.
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