How I Cartooned myself, by Don Charisma
I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, finally managed to find the right time and space to get it done. And this is what I came up with :
I didn’t like all of the aspects of the original photo, never really considered myself particularly “photogenic” and really loved the idea of a cartoon like image of me. For my blog and my ever growing number of accounts where a profile avatar is optional, but needed really, it’s what I really wanted.
I don’t know any graphic designers or cartoonists, and wouldn’t know how to explain what I wanted even if I did…
So, in my searching around on Google looking for a “quick fix”, that is an app or a website that would do it for me for free, I found an unusual bunch of waste of time sites that could make my photo look, well crappy really, with what looked like worms growing out of my face, why would anyone want that ? I have to say that I can’t recommend any of these cartoonify for free sites, they just don’t do what I want and didn’t really like the look much of the examples on the paid sites.
This process went on for some time, I’ve looked and looked over the months, must be years by now – well not looking for websites, I don’t sit at my PC 24/7 looking for cartoonify sites, I do have a life as well.
So I thought maybe I can do it myself, I have Photoshop and at least half a brain. Some more Google searches later and I stumbled across FallenDesignsUK video tutorial on YouTube. From what I understand Stephen Bradbury the videographer is a graphics design student and only 17. I was amazed at what I saw in his video, it changed things from being a nigh on impossible task to within the realms of possibility. Very impressed and amazed with what he showed me is possible and actually not that difficult.
His “Photoshop Cartoon Effect Tutorial #1” is here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMRuDE-anww
You can also find other examples of his work (images not videos) here – http://www.behance.net/gallery/Illustrations/6022197
Needless to say not much point in me giving you the full tutorial, Stephen has done a splendid job in his videos, highly recommended and worthwhile you watch if you want to do this yourself.
So here’s some words of wisdom about bits that were challenging whilst doing my cartoon the FallenDesignsUK way.
What I learn’t relatively quickly is that a basic skill in using the pen tool is a must, a vital and very worthwhile.
It is quite hard to get used to at first, so practice really does help – you will find you can master it quicker than you think, so keep at it and don’t worry too much if you make mistakes at first.
The pen tool helps you get those nice smooth curves and is used for both outlining and for filling.
The other thing I had to pick up fast was the use of layers.
Layers are basically like separate images that are “stacked” together to form the finished image. They can be displayed or not displayed at any given time, depends on what you’re doing at that precise moment.
Also note that layers are processed from the top down, that is the bottom most layer are stacked underneath the higher up layers. Confusing ? Try dragging and dropping them up and down and see how things change.
Labeling layers with meaningful names is highly recommended. I ended up with “Outline”, “Sunglasses Outline”, Sunglasses 2″, “Hat”, “Hat Shaddow”, “Beard & Hair”, “Lips”, “Lips Shaddow”, “Skin”, “Skin Shaddow”, “Skin Shaddow 2”, “Original Image”, “Text”, “Wall Behind”, “Background”
Trust me, things will go a lot easier with well named labels.
For example here is my “Outline” layer :
And this is my “Beard&Hair” layer :
And this is my “Skin” layer :
Problems with the eyedropper/pipette
Personally, I’m not that great with colours, so struggle with picking colours. The pipette thing is great for this. However the colour that is picked is in a very small box, difficult for me to see the colour. On the YouTube video Stephen has a circular addition to pipette tool which looks really handy, but I can’t see how to add it in on my Photoshop CS6. If anybody know then please let me know. Maybe it’s a new feature on Photoshop CC ?
(Update 11-Jul, I found out what the circle thingy is called it’s the “sampling ring”, still not sure why I can’t use it !)
This was a bit of challenge because I didn’t have a tutorial for the sunglasses. My sunglasses in the original photo are see-through (you can see eyes and face through them). So my solution was to do it my own way with two layers –
“Sunglasses Outline” – This is basically a black line outlining the sunglasses and frame (all with Pen Tool). Later I added the little flourish to the stems, the side and the top. Again pen tool, used black and near white (from the original photo).
“Sunglasses 2” – This was filled with a colour that I picked from inside the sunglasses lens area. I used the opacity function of the layer to tone it down a bit. For the “sun” reflecting off the glasses I used the Filter –> Render –> Lens Flare tool in Photoshop
A word on shading
Shading really bring the image to life and is well worth the effort. Stephen’s method is to use different layers for say “skin”, then “skin shaddow”, then “skin highlight”, and use a mid-tone for “skin”. This would work fine. My way is slightly different in that I used a light tone for “skin”, then for “skin shaddow” added patches on top of skin and then for “skin shaddow 2” added patches on top of both.
A word on using the keyboard
There was a couple of things I just couldn’t figure out how to do using the menus in Photoshop. One was the inverse of the current selection (isn’t on the edit menu on CS6). For this I found the shortcut, simply CTRL + I
The other was how to turn of the damn marquee thing (if you don’t then you find Photoshop will stop you from painting and erasing, confusing, yup it is). To turn off the marquee, use CTRL + D
Don’t know what this is for Apple users, I don’t use OSX, maybe command + the letter ?
More on keyboard shortcuts here – http://digital-photography-school.com/28-more-exceptionally-useful-photoshop-shortcuts
Making a cartoon image from a photo with Photoshop isn’t all that difficult. With the help that is available online from people like Stephen Bradbury, FallenDesignsUK videos on YouTube, you should be able to do what you want. It took me about two days to do in the end, as there were some time consuming bits and getting the hang of photoshop takes some patience. Keep at it and the rewards will come, eventually.
Big thanks to Stephen Bradbury for the videos, very much appreciated.
I leave you with “Rico The Barber” by Stephen Bradbury, awesome!:
For a step by step guide, also check out http://www.vectorportraits.com/