Tutorials > Comic Book FX from Photos in Photoshop!

Comic Book FX from Photos in Photoshop!

In this video, we'll rocket through the process of turning photos into comic-book-style illustrations in Adobe Photoshop. I though it would be fun to make a video you can finish before your burrito gets out of the microwave - to follow along, it might be easier to watch the video, then check out the written instructions below. To download textures, scroll to the bottom!

QUICK INSTRUCTIONS (for advanced users)

Mask the subject and convert to Smart Object.
Shadows/Highlights with Shadows at 100%.
Camera Raw Filter - Noise Reduction 100, Detail 0.
Camera Raw Filter - Noise Reduction 100, Detail 0, Saturation -100.
Oil Paint - All the way up (lighting turned off).
Threshold - find darkest Shadows (about 90).
Make 2 copies - call top layer “Lines”, middle “Grey”, bottom “Black”.

“Grey” layer:
Adjust Threshold toward mid-tones (about 120).
Place Grungy Halftone texture on top set to Screen, create clipping mask.
Set “Grey” layer to Multiply.

“Lines” layer:
Trash the Oil Paint filter.
High Pass filter underneath Threshold filter set to 2 or 3.
Adjust threshold to pick up line-work (about 125).

New Group Folder on top, “Color”, set to Multiply.
Mask the Color Folder to match subject.
Solid Color layers inside the folder - invert mask, then paint in where you want color.

Drag and drop vector elements in background, grunge in foreground, etc!


1) Create a simple mask for your subject by tracing it with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (click and hold the lasso tool in the Tools panel to find the Polygonal Lasso Tool).

2) Use the “Create Mask” button at the bottom of the Layers panel.

3) Right click your layer in the Layers Panel and convert it to a Smart Object.

4) Use Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights. Use default values, with the Shadows at 100%.

5) Use Filter>Camera RawFilter. In the Detail section, turn Noise Reduction to 100, and Detail to 0.

6) Use Filter>Camera RawFilter again. In the Detail section, turn Noise Reduction to 100, and Detail to 0. Also, in the Basic section, bring Saturation to -100.

7) Use Filter>Stylize>Oil Paint with Stylization at 10, Cleanliness at 10, and Lighting turned off.

8) Use Image>Adjustments>Threshold. Find a value that leaves only the darkest shadows (about 90).

9) Make two duplicates of the layer. Double click the layer name in the Layers panel and rename the top one to “Lines”, the middle one to “Grey”, and the bottom one to “Black”.

10) Turn off the “Lines” layer for now.

11) On the “Grey” layer, double click the Threshold filter in the Layers panel, and move the value toward the middle (about 120).

12) Drag in the Grungy Halftone Texture, which you can download below, and scale it to fit over the entire image.

13) Move the Grungy Halftone layer to be directly above the “Grey” layer in the Layers panel, then Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) between the two layers to create a Clipping Mask.

14) In the Layers panel, set the Grungy Halftone layer to Screen mode. Set the “Grey” layer to Multiply mode.

15) Turn on the “Lines” layer by clicking the eyeball next to it in the Layers panel. In the Layers panel, turn off the Threshold filter for now. Drag the Oil Paint filter into the trash.

16) Use Filter>Other>High Pass with a Radius of 2 (for thicker lines, use a radius of 3 or 4).

17) Drag the High Pass filer underneath the Threshold in the Layers panel.

18) Turn Threshold back on. Double click the filter and adjust the value to pick up the lines, without getting too much noise (usually about 125).

19) If the image has eyes in it, create a new layer (plus button in the Layers panel) and drag it underneath the “Lines” layer. Using the Brush Tool with the color set to white, paint in where the whites of the eyes should be. Paint black dots to fit in the irises of the eyes.

20) Shift-select all the layers in the Layers panel and drag them into a Group Folder.

21) Apply the Stroke Effect to the folder (fx at the bottom of layers panel). Set the Stroke to black, with a Size of about 4px, and the Position at Center.

22) Also apply the Drop Shadow Effect to the folder. Set the Blending Mode to Normal, color to white, Opacity to 100%, Distance to about 6, and Size to 0.

23) Create a new, separate Folder called “Color”. Set the folder to Multiply mode.

24) Ctrl-click (Windows) or Cmd-click (Mac) the “Lines” layer thumbnail  in the Layers panel to make a selection in the shape of the layer.

25) With the “Color” folder selected, use the Create Mask button (bottom of Layers panel) to add a mask to the folder.

26) Inside the “Color” folder, create a new Solid Color layer (bottom of Layers panel) with a color of your choosing.

27) Select the mask of the Solid Color layer and invert it (Image>Adjustments>Invert).

28) Using the Brush tool, paint white into the mask of the Solid Color layer to reveal color where you want it.

29) Create additional Solid Color layers with masks to add more colors.

30) Introduce any background elements - solid colors, vector elements, shape layers, gradient layers, etc.

31) Drag the additional grunge textures into the document, scale them to fit, and set them to Screen mode.

32) Adjust and refine - double click the threshold Filters on the “Black” and “Grey” layers to dial in your shadows.


4 textures used in this tutorial:

Grunge 265 - Small dots halftone

small: 960×640 jpg

medium: 1920×1280 jpg

large: 4240×2827 jpg

x large: 6000×4000 jpg

Vector 180 - Explosion lines

.EPS file

Paper 174 - Distressed warped paper

small: 960×641 jpg

medium: 1920×1281 jpg

large: 4240×2829 jpg

x large: 7952×5304 jpg

Film 163 - Worn photo border

small: 960×640 jpg

medium: 1920×1280 jpg

large: 4240×2827 jpg

x large: 6000×4000 jpg