How To Create Line Art in Adobe Photoshop

Line art images are drawings that you usually see in comic books. You can take any ordinary picture of a landscape or a person and turn it into a line art image using Adobe Photoshop. 

Other cool designer's tips and techniques are taught in online design and/or arts courses. 

  1. Open a picture file and prepare for tracing. Find a picture file of a person that you want to create line art with. In Adobe Photoshop, go to "File" and then choose "Open" to browse for your picture file if it is stored on your hard disk. The picture will be displayed on your Photoshop window and placed on a layer. You can now change the brightness of the image to make it easier to trace over with black lines. Select the layer and change the name to something like "Model" to signify that it is the original file. Duplicate the layer and rename it to "Trace," and then go to the image tab and select "Adjustments" then choose "brightness/Contrast." Add two more layers under the Trace layer and call the first one Line Art and the second one Background. The "Line Art" layer should be kept transparent while the "Background" layer should be filled with a white color. Adjust the visibility option for the Trace and Background layers to OFF and then ON for the Model and Line Art layers.
  2. Adjust brush settings. With the layer preparations out of the way you can now adjust the settings for the brush tool. Line art images needs to have dimension to bring out features of the image you are creating and to achieve this you need to use two types of brushes, one with a thick line to stress on features that are nearest the viewer and a thin line to stress on features that are furthest. First set the foreground color to black, then on the tool options on your left select the paint brush tool then look for the brush palette, either on your task bar or the palettes on your right. Select the Brush Tip Shape option for the Brush Presets then use the slider to bring down the Diameter to about 5px and adjust the Angle to about -130 degrees then the Roundness to 15%. For the Hardness option, use the slider and move it all the way to 100% and then slide the slider for the Spacing to 3%. Now click the Shape Dynamics and set the Size jitter to 0, the Control to Fade with a value of 300, the minimum diameter to about 25%, and everything else turned OFF.
  3. Create lines using paths. You will use paths extensively when tracing over an image, so click the Pen tool and then on your task bar click the Paths button. On the Line Art layer look for the nearest area to the viewer and make that your starting point to begin your line. You have to consider that the longer your lines become, they will start to fade towards the end of your line. When creating paths, follow how the features curve and straighten out, by clicking along the path. When you're done making a line, right-click the path and select Stroke Path then choose Brush; the path will turn into a brush stroke. Right-Click the path again then select delete path to leave just the brush stroke on the Line Art layer. To make thicker lines, trace the whole portion of a shape or feature then close the path by returning to the starting point, then right-click and select Fill Path to fill the shape with the foreground color.

As you make several images with line art you will get better with this skill; online classes in design can help you refine your talent even farther. You will progress in creating line art images with better dimension and perspective.


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