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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 we are going to take this portrait photograph and we are going to convert it into a high-contrast line drawing. Now, in part, it's a function of this filter called Photocopy, but you can see that's a far cry from what we ultimately end up with. It's largely a matter of helping the image draw itself. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right! Starting with your portrait shot--and mine comes to us from Joseph JR Dube-- I want you to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac, call the new layer photocopy and click OK.
Now, the Photocopy filter that we are about to apply replaces all the colors in the image with the foreground and background colors. We want our colors to be black and white, so go ahead and press the D key in order to reset the foreground and background colors to their defaults. Then go up to the Filter menu, choose Sketch, and choose the Photocopy command. Now, depending on the resolution of your image, you probably want to zoom out a little bit here, inside the big Filter Gallery dialog box. By default, your Detail value is going to be 5 and your Darkness will be 50.
A Darkness of 50 is exactly what we want. But we want thicker lines, so I suggest you take that Detail value up to 9 or 10, something in that range-- I am going to stick with 9--and then click OK. Now, this ends up delivering a pretty gritty result, but it's not necessarily very flattering, which is fairly remarkable, because if I turn this photocopy layer off, you can see this is a young woman with very smooth skin, and yet her skin turns into this after the Photocopy command.
So we are going to clean up these facial details in a couple of different ways. One way is automatic. It uses a combination of Gaussian blur and Levels working together, and the other method that we also need to employ is manual cleanup. So let's start things off with the automated technique by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Blur, and then choosing Gaussian Blur. I want you to set the Radius value to about 2 pixels. Again, this is going to depend on the resolution of your image. This image measures, I believe, 1800 pixels wide, 1200 pixels tall, so it's not super high res.
But in any case, what we are trying to do is to create soft transitions along these outlines here, and we want to make some of the grit and grime turn gray so that we can get rid of it using the Levels command. All right! Go ahead and click OK. I want you to go up to the Blend mode pop-up menu and change the mode to Multiply, and that goes ahead and drops out the whites, even though eventually we want them back--we need to drop them out for now--and reveals the photographic image in the background. All right! Now, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click the Black/White icon at the bottom of the panel, and choose the Levels command. And I am going to call this layer contrast.
And very importantly, you need to turn on Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask and then click OK, because that way we are limiting our levels modifications to the photocopy layer. All right! If you are working along with me, I want you to increase the Black Point value to 115 and take the White Point value down to 140, and you can see that that dropped out a ton of the grit and grime in her face. Not all of it, by any stretch of the imagination, but much of it is gone now. The next step, and this is the painful step because it's absolutely manual-- you can either, by the way, grab the Eraser tool, click on the photocopy layer to make it active.
And I suggest you work with this Block setting right here, because that way you are not going to introduce any softness, and you can just paint the bad stuff away. Or another way to work--I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change. Another way to work is to grab the Lasso tool, and then you can Alt+Click around inside of the image in order to take advantage of the Polygonal Lasso feature, and once you have selected a region, just go ahead and drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon and Alt+Click on it or Option+Click on the Mac in order to mask that area away.
And then you would Alt+Click around some more to select more of the image, like so. And taking care to make sure that the layer mask thumbnail is selected, you would fill that region with black, and in my case, I do that by pressing Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on a Mac. Well, just to speed things up, I have done this in advance, and so I am going to right-click on that layer mask thumbnail and choose Delete Layer Mask. Then I will switch over to the Channels panel. There is my cleanup mask right there. So everything that's showing up as black is going to disappear. I will go ahead and load it up by pressing the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and clicking on that channel, and then I will switch back to the RGB image, switch back to the Layers panel, and drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel and click on it, and that goes ahead and masks all that bad stuff away. All right! Now, let's turn this into real, actual line art.
I am going to click on the Background layer to make it active, press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac to make a new layer, call this layer white, click OK, and then assuming your background color is white, as it is my case, press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac to fill the entire layer with white and then press the 5 key to reduce the Opacity to 50%. Now, the reason I am continually revealing portions of the background image here is they will help me rebuild some details. For example, in my case, I want to take everything that's dark, like the dark area inside of her hair, and some of the background, and some shadows inside the lips, and underneath her eyes, and so forth.
I want to turn those areas jet black, so that we have a real high- contrast graphic effect. We are going to do that by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac in order to create a new layer, and I will call this layer shadows, and then I will click OK, and we'll fill this entire layer with black by pressing Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete. Go ahead and double-click on an empty portion of the layer over here in the right-hand side in order to bring up the Layer Style dialog box. And I want you, if you are working along with this image, I want you to take that white underlying Layers slider and drag the triangle all the way over to 160.
Now, if you are working on a different image all your own, you can take it down to whatever level you think works, but basically what we are saying here is anything with a Luminance Level of 160 or brighter on the composite version of the underlying layers, that's going to force its way through and make the black disappear; anything 160 or darker will be covered by black. And as a result, we are doing a great job of filling in these shadows, including the shadows inside the hair. Go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification.
Now presumably you don't want this effect; you don't want the photographic image showing through, however washed out it might be there in the background. So we want to make the entire image black and white, and to do that, you click on this top layer. You will notice that I have got this group right here called type & graphics that has some type and graphics inside it. And now I am going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click on the Black/White icon at the bottom of the panel, and choose Threshold. And we will go ahead and call this layer B&W, because we are converting the image to black and white, click OK, and I am going to take my Threshold level value down to 120, and that is the effect.
All right! So I will go ahead and collapse the Adjustments panel. This is the original photographic image. This is the highly graphic, high-contrast line-drawing version of the image, created using the Photocopy filter, a couple of adjustment layers, a layer of solid white, and a layer of solid black, here inside Photoshop.
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