Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Adobe Photoshop > Technique

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Photo to Line Art Morph

This is a great little trick that morphs line art with a photograph of the same subject. I've seen this used numerous times, most recently in a backlit ad on the terminal wall at LAX. Anyone who remembers the award-winning video for the song "Take On Me" by the group "a-ha" will experience a momentary '80s flashback when they try this technique.

Quick Tip: Bringing back color to your line art

In the tutorial shown at right, we take a photograph and convert it to a black-and-white line drawing, and then morph the two together at the end. But another technique you may want to consider is not morphing, but instead, after you've created the line art drawing in Step 5, just switch to the History Brush tool. Lower the Opacity to about 20%, and lightly paint back in the original image. When you paint with the Opacity set that low, it's the color that appears first, and you can create an effect of almost a watercolor wash under your line drawing that really looks slick. Give it a try after you finish the full tutorial at right and see what you think.

  1. Open the image you want to morph into a line drawing of itself.

  2. Figure 8.67

  3. Press Command-J (PC: Control-J) to create a duplicate of your Background layer. While on this duplicate layer, go under the Filter menu, under Stylize, and choose Find Edges (as shown).

  4. Figure 8.68

  5. Press Shift-Command-U (PC: Shift-Control-U) to remove all the color from the image (running the Find Edge filter introduces lots of highly saturated patches of color, so removing the color is a must).

  6. Figure 8.69

  7. Now that the color is gone, we need to remove some of the leftover "noise" and unnecessary detail created by the Find Edge filter. Press Command-L (PC: Control-L) to bring up the Levels dialog. Drag the top-right Input Levels slider to the right to "blow out" the extra detail, leaving just the most substantial lines (as shown).

  8. Figure 8.70

  9. Next, in the Layers palette, click on the Layer Mask icon (as shown in the inset at left). Make sure your Foreground color is set to black. Press "g" to get the Gradient tool. Press Return (PC: Enter) to bring up the Gradient Picker, and make sure the first gradient (the Foreground to Background gradient) is selected. Drag the Gradient tool from the center of your image downward.

  10. Figure 8.71

  11. As you drag downward, the top of the image will become transparent, revealing the original photo on the layer behind, and it will smoothly blend into the line art version of your image (as shown). If you want to add a little color to your line art, change the Blend Mode to either Lighten, Vivid Light, or for a lot of color, try Overlay.

  12. Figure 8.72

Quick Tip: If the Blend isn't right, drag again

In the tutorial at left, I ask you to drag a gradient on a Layer Mask to reveal the photo on the layer below it. The nice thing about this technique is that if it's not right the first time you try it, just keep dragging until it does look right. Every time you drag again, it creates an entirely new mask. Also, try painting on the mask (actually, it looks like you're painting on the layer, but it's really painting on the mask, so don't let that throw you) using solid black to reveal the layer below, or solid white to cover it back up.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account