How to make comics from photo

Photo to comics tutorialFollowing this Photoshop tutorial you amaze your friends making comics from a photo. If you have a series of good but monotonous photos from the party it’s time to add color and fun to the stage. Pay attention, that people on the photo should be photographed close up (up to shoulders or breast like in this tutorial). The fewer details there are in the background the better. If you would like to tell a comics story, try to pick up photos in logical order that tell a story. The image dimensions should be not less than 300 dpi and 10x15cm.The ready comics should have more bright and primitive colors than original photo, deep shadows and typical comics shading as well.
Original photo

First of all, correct the colors and contrast of your photo using Levels (Ctrl+L) or Autolevels (Shift+Ctrl+L). Then apply some sharpen and make History snapshot (Window->History->New snapshot).

1. Create displacement map
Now you should convert your photo to Black&White to use it later as a displacement map for realistic shading.

  • Convert photo to Lab color mode (Image->Mode->Lab color).
  • On the Channels palette chose Lightness channel (Ctrl+1).
  • Apply command Image->Mode->Grayscale. Click Yes to Photoshop question about layer flattering.
  • Save Black&White photo as displacementmap.psd file.displacement map

2. Make comics tone

  • Roll back to in the History palette by clicking Snapshot icon.
  • Duplicate Background Layer (Ctrl+J) and rename it by double clicking layer name to ‘Tone’.
  • Apply Poster Edges filter (Filter->Artistic->Poster edges) with Edge intensity 0, Posterization 1.
  • Apply Cutout filter with such parameters: Number of levels 4, Edge simplicity 3, Edge fidelity 2.
  • Apply Smart blur (Filter-Blur) Radius 6, Threshold 80, Quality – High, Mode – Normal.comics tone

3. Create comics catchy colors

  • Create another Background Layer copy and rename it to ‘Color’ and put it above two other layers.
  • Apply Dust&Scratches filter (Filter->Noise) with Radius 10 and Threshold 0.
  • Apply Hue/Saturation (Ctrl+U) with Saturation 80 and Lightness 50.comics color

4. Boost shadows
In this step you get typical for comics deep black shadows.

  • Create another copy of Background layer, rename it to ‘Shadows’ and place it above other layers, change Layer mode to Multiply.
  • Apply Image->Adjustments->Threshold with amount 25. If you have photo with darker colors try to increase amount.
  • To polish graininess apply Diffuse filter (Filter->Stylize), check Anisotropic.comics shadows

5. Accentuate details
Now you should restore lost in the previous steps details.

  • Create another Background Layer copy above other layers and rename it to ‘Details’.
  • Change Layer mode to Multiply.
  • Press D key on the keyboard to restore default Foreground and Background colors.
  • Apply Photocopy filter (Sketch->Photocopy) with Detail 12 and Darkness 15.
  • Now image should have bad photocopy texture look. To reduce noise apply Diffuse filter as you did it previously.comics details

6. Shade comics shadows
In this step you are getting realistic comics shading.

  • Create new layer, NOT copy this time (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N) and name it as ‘Shading’.comics layers
  • Apply command Edit->Fill with Use 50% gray, Mode- Normal, Transparency 100 %, uncheck Preserve transparency.
  • Apply filter Sketch->Hallftone Pattern with Size 2, Contrast 25 and Line as a Pattern type.
  • Apply filter Distort->Displace with Amount 25, check Warp around. When Photoshop asks for displacement map, browse and select displacementmap.psd file.
  • Apply Blur (Blur->Gaussian blur with Radius 2.
  • Apply command Image ->Adjustments->Threshold with Amount 120.
  • Remove noise with Diffuse filter as you did it earlier.
  • Change Layer mode to Multyply.
  • Enter Quick mask mode by pressing Q and paste displacement map from clipboard (Ctrl+V).
  • Apply Smart blur filter with Radius 6, Threshold 80, Quality High, Mode – Normal.
  • Quit Quick mask mode by pressing Q again.
  • Apply command Layer->Layer Mask->Hide selection to lighten image. Simultaneously Photoshop selects shading Layer mask.
  • Apply command Threshold with Amount 200-225.

Now you should have realistik shading.

7. Correct colors
Correct face colors
Face colors often got red hue after all manipulations made with image.

  • One way to fix that is to apply Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer in the Layers palette Edit->Reds->Hue increase Amount to +16
  • Another way is to paint new colors with a brush tool.  Create new Layer ‘Painted Colors’ and change Layer mode to Color.
  • Select Brush tool (press B) and double click Foreground color in the tools palette. In the Color Picker options submit RGB values 236, 226, 184.
  • In the option palette (below Menu) set Opacity and Flow to 70%, select reasonable brush size and paint necessary areas.
  • Use darker color to paint (on other layer) light shadows on cheekbone.
  • To fine tune new colors adjust Opacity in the Layers palette.

Restore white areas
White color in a shirt or teeth looses its freshness so you should fix it as well.

  • Create new ‘White’ layer above all others. Press X to select White as a Foreground color and lighten required area with brush (as you did in the past). In this case I whitened a tie.

8. Create talk bubbles
Now you ought to add text to make your photo look like a real comics.

  • Select Custom Shape tool from Tools palette (press U, looks like a star) and paint with any talk bubble on a new layer ‘Talk bubble’.
  •  If you see only one bubble, click triangle in the custom shape options and load Talk bubbles shapes. You can flip your bubble horizontal or vertical or scale it (Edit->Transform path)
  • To highlight Talk bubble edges, apply Drop Shadow layer style (FX symbol in the Layers palette) with Distance 25 and Size 5.
  • To add text, set default colors by pressing X, then select Text tool, Font Comic Sans, Size 72. Click the bubble and write your text.comics talk bubbles

9. Save your work

  • To print your comics merge all layers (Ctrl+Shift+E) and save file as Tiff file format (lossless).
  • You can also Save this comics for Web to send it to your friends (Alt+Shift+Ctrl+S).

Wish you successful experiments and fun!

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3 thoughts on “How to make comics from photo

  1. Hi there, Really nice tutorial! But I am missing one thing in section 6. You have written: Enter Quick mask mode by pressing Q and paste displacement map from clipboard (Ctrl+V) – but there is nowhere else mention about copying something nor CTRL+C. Can you help me? Thank you.

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