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Photoshop Reference Guide

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Create Images With a Graphic Novel Look

Last updated Mar 14, 2003.

In this latest addition to the Cool, Quick Effects guide, I'm going to cover how you can take an ordinary photograph and quickly and easily convert it into something that looks like it comes from a graphic novel.

  1. If you don't have an image of your own to work with for this exercise, feel free to download the image I'm using in this example from the following URL: http://www.blot.com/InformIT/images/R-M-C/empire_state_bldg.jpg
  2. Once you have the image open in Photoshop, the first step is to convert it to Grayscale color mode. To do that, simply choose Image > Mode > Grayscale. When Photoshop prompts you to "Discard Color Information?", simply click OK. Photoshop will then convert your color image to a grayscale image.
  3. Next, apply a filter to the image to give it that "graphic novel" look by choosing Filter > Sketch > Graphic Pen.
  4. In the Graphic Pen dialog, set the Stroke Length to its maximum of 15 and set the Light/Dark Balance to a mid-range of approximately 55. The Stroke Direction is entirely up to your preference. For this example, I chose Right Diagonal.
  5. Note: The Light/Dark Balance settings will need to be customized for each image you apply this filter to as some images are lighter/darker than others.

  6. Once you're finished modifying the settings, click OK to close the graphic pen dialog and apply the filter.

    There you have it. A picture that looks like it was torn from the pages of a graphic novel!