It's a lonely life...that of the necromancer, er freelancer

A blog by a designer and illustrator, for designers and illustrators which may contain musings on art, movies and random weirdness.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Dickens You Say!

A client recently hired me to do some Photoshop work on a photo so that it could be printed and given as a Christmas gift. I'm posting this partly to show what I am capable of doing in Photoshop, nothing too fancy, but definitley took an artist's eye.

Here is the original photo. It is a picture of actor J.T. Turner, who does an annual reading of Charles Dicken's "Christmas Carol" as who else, Charles Dickens. He had this lovely photo taken of himself in his 19th-century Dickensian costume, the only problem was the decidedly 20th-century building in the background.

It was fairly easy to isolate the foreground elements and eliminate the background, replacing it with color sampled from the snow shadow area.

So far, so good. Now the client asked me to make it look more like an illustration, similar to a technique that I developed for use on several posters. I couldn't do it by just by running a Photoshop filter on the original photo as that almost always looks like what it is; a Photoshop filter run on a photo. It needed to look more hand drawn than that. I solved the problem by making a line drawing of the photo, tracing a print of the photo on vellum, and then scanning it into Photoshop.

I then selected the white areas of the flat art, inversed the selection so that only the black was selected, and then copied and pasted the black line art onto a new
layer in Photoshop. I then took the original photo, ran a modified watercolor filter on it, and pasted it on the layer beneath the line art. Some areas of the line art did not line up exactly and needed to be modified, as did some of the areas of the underlying photo. For instance the area around the eyes needed to be cleaned up, and the side of the coat extended. Once everything was lined up to my satisfaction, i flattened the document. Here is the finished product.

You get the illustrative style of line art, with the tonal gradations of a photo.

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