Apr 27 2009
Adobe Photoshop Elements Tip– Comic Art Effect
Okay, so we said we’d never do this, but here it is: one of our tutorials translated for Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0. I don’t think this is going to become the norm or anything–most of our tutorials rely heavily on Channel operations (ChOps) and Layer Masks and those are not simple to get around with Elements.
That said, what follows is an Adobe Photoshop Elements version of our Comic Art Effect tutorial. It might be more accurate to say that this is a version of the Comic Art Effect Action we released a while back that has been explained in Adobe Photoshop Elements terms.
Anyway, on with the tutorial…
Hey man, if somebody takes a picture of something and then you get Photoshop Elements 3 to draw the same thing right on top of it, only going outside the designated original art to make it looks somewhat comic book like, what do call that? I call it my latest tutorial!
Use this baby to convert your digital pictures and scans into comic book style illustrations. Nothing can take the place of talent …except for maybe a relative who works high up in the business…but this tutorial will get the idea across without requiring any artistic talent at all.
Disclaimers, conditions and preparations
Start with a good, flattened, high resolution RGB image–at least a 5″ by 3″ image at 300ppi–that you’ve color corrected and sharpened. If the image is bad, the result of this tutorial will also be bad–I can’t stress this enough.
The color and richness of the image is actually more important than the resolution. If your resolution is below 5″ by 3″ image at 300ppi, go into Image>Resize>Image Size… and increase the resolution and image size (make sure Resample Image is checked). This tutorial only uses the image as a guideline but requires a lot of pixels to draw the result nicely. Now, let me tell you, this is the only time it is alright to up-sample a low resolution picture to pass as a high resolution image.
If you’re ready, let’s get started…
Step 1: Tone
With your image open in Elements, open up the Layers palette if it isn’t already and duplicate the Background layer. Name this new layer “Tone”
We’re about to do some things that may make you wonder if I know what I’m doing. Well, I wonder some times too. But trust me for now. Go to Filter>Artistic>Poster Edges… and plug in a value of 0 for Edge Thickness, 0 for Edge Intensity and 1 for Posterization and click OK. Not bad.
Now go Filter>Artistic>Cutout… and set the Number of Levels to 4, the Edge Simplicity to 3 and the Edge Fidelity to 2 and click OK. (Extra points if you do both filters in one go from the Filter Gallery) Scared now? Here’s what mine looks like…
Now go Filter>Blur>Smart Blur… and use a Radius setting of 6.0, a Threshold of 80.0, set the Quality to High and the Mode to Normal and hit OK.
Adjust the Levels by going Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels… and enter input values of 62, 0.6 and 255 and output levels of 100 and 255 (see below).
Finish off the Tone layer by going Filter>Adjustments>Posterize… and apply a value of 6
I know. It might not look promising, but it will improve. Actually, this layer will set the tonal foundation for our color, but not the color itself. I could have made tone and color on one layer, but I had inconsistent results and this method provides greater control…which you’ll see later.
Step 2: Color
Duplicate the Background layer and drag it to the top of the layers currently listed in the Layers palette. Name this new layer “Color” and set its Blending Mode to “Color” Since this layer is only here to add back the color of the original photo to the tonal map we created in Step 2, we really don’t need any of the detail in the shot, just the color.
Go Filter>Noise>Dust & Scratches and set the Radius to 10 pixels and the Threshold to 0 levels.
This has brought back the natural color of the image back into our effect…which would be fine…if we were going for a “natural” look. But we’re not. The kind of comics this effect has been created to emulate are those from the first early years when the colors were almost entirely homogenous and extremely vibrant.
Go Enhance>Adjustment Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation… and leave the Hue at 0 but bump the Saturation up to 80 and the Lightness to 50 (the Colorize setting should remain unchecked).
Step 3: Dot Screen
In the original Photoshop tutorial, this step was added at the end. I thought I might as well add the layers on in order rather than telling you to shoehorn a layer between previous layers later on. Too confusing …you’re probably confused wondering what I’m talking about. Never mind. Forget I said anything.
I really don’t like applying filters to an image unless I leave myself a way out. Using layers is the best way I know to do this. So to add the dot screen effect to finish up the color layers of this image we’re going to create a new layer on top of all the current ones and name it “Dot Screen”
Go Edit>Fill Layer… set the Contents to Use: 50% Gray and the Blending to Mode: Normal, Opacity: 100% and leave Preserve Transparency unchecked. Click OK.
Then go Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftone… use all of the default settings except change the Max Radius to 4 pixels and click OK.
set the Blending Mode of the Dot Screen layer to “Overlay.” Don’t be alarmed if the dot screen effect comes out looking a little “plaid”, it’s an optical illusion kinda thing called a “moiré“ (pronounced “mÃ´- ray’”)In this case the conflicting screens are the one in the effect and the one you’re looking at it on–your monitor. Zoom in and out and the moirÃ© will change and dissipate. It’s not really anything to worry about.
Next we’ll get some ink to define these characters.
Step 4: Ink 1
Duplicate the Background layer once more and drag it to the top of all the layers currently listed in the Layers palette. Name this layer “Ink 1″ and set its Blending Mode to “Multiply” This layer’s sole purpose is to keep the shadows black. That’s it.
Go Filter>Adjustments>Threshold… and give it a setting of 25 and click OK.
Now if you take a look at the edges of black areas this effect produces, you’ll notice that they’re very rough and pixelated and look nothing like the ink strokes in a comic book. The ink in the old comics was laid down with a brush or a pen and gave a very smooth look. We’re going to try to achieve a bit of that now…
Filter>Stylize>Diffuse and click the radio button beside the word Anisotropic before clicking OK.
Now go Filter>Artistic>Cutout… and set the Number of Levels to 2, the Edge Simplicity to 4 and the Edge Fidelity to 1 and click OK.
Finish off the layer by returning to Filter>Adjustments>Threshold… and drop in a value of 128.
Step 5: Ink 2
Guess what? You’re going to duplicate the Background layer again and drag it to the top of all the layers currently listed in the Layers palette again. This time, name this layer “Ink 2″ and set its Blending Mode to “Multiply” This layer will draw the detail back in our image.
It is very important that you reset your Foreground and Background colors to default before proceeding, so hit the D key before it’s too late!!
Go Filter>Sketch>Photocopy…and use these settings: Detail of 12 and Darkness of 15 and then click OK.
Now, that has probably added a bit too much detail and schmutz to the image, so we’ll tone it down in some places and strengthen the good details in the process.
Go Filter>Adjustments>Threshold… give it 60 and click OK.
We’re going to run the Anisotropic Diffuse here too… go Filter>Stylize>Diffuse and select Anisotropic before clicking OK.
Still probably too much schmutz… We’ll go back to the Cutout filter again…
Go Filter>Artistic>Cutout… and set the Number of Levels to 2, the Edge Simplicity to 4 and the Edge Fidelity to 1 and click OK. Then go Filter>Adjustments>Threshold… and drop in a value of 128.
Not bad, but the thing I really like about comic book art is those brush strokes in the shadows. You know what I mean? They’re almost like a woodcut effect and they add shadow while also defining the curvature and shape of the object they shade. There is no way to faithfully duplicate what only God-given talent and years of practice can produce, but I’ll do my best…
Step 6: Ink 3
Now this is where the path of the original tutorial and this one really diverge. In the original tutorial the effect of the comic book brush stroke shading was achieved through a layer mask and a displacement mask. And though Elements can handle displacement masks, the processes of removing the areas that…well…it was gonna get too hard to follow. So I decided to simplify a bit. Here goes…
Forgive me if this is getting tiresome but, duplicate the Background layer and drag it to the top of all the layers currently listed in the Layers palette. Name this layer “Ink 3″ and set its Blending Mode to “Multiply”
Now head over to Filter>Sketch>Halftone Pattern… set the Size to 2, the contrast to 25 and use the “Line” Pattern type. Click OK.
Remember the Threshold Filter? Go Filter>Adjustments>Threshold… give it 10 and click OK.
All that’s left is to apply the good old Anisotropic Diffuse and “marvel” at your creation.
That’s it true believers! Nuff said! …Excelsior!!