Sketching Yourself into a Photo
Hello and welcome to this short tutorial on how to turn yourself into half-person and half-drawing!
I’ve always loved drawing, sketching and illustrating and when I started photography I realized that there were opportunities for me to combine both the drawing that I loved and the photography that I loved to create interesting effects in my work. This is a fairly simple editing technique that you can have a lot of fun with! It gives you the freedom of choosing your own elements and applying this technique in a variety of ways!
So the first we need the actual photos! You’re going to need two photographs for this image, the “backdrop” and the “person”. The backdrop is a simple photo shot straight down at a piece of paper. This is where you can add some personal elements, you can arrange a little scene within the image. Add some crayons, cookie crumbs, toys whatever you’d like to add in a bit of your own personality to the photo (mine is coffee!). We’re also going to need a similar image of the person, again shot from above. Try to shoot both images in the same light as possible and shoot the person on an even surface that will make it easier to remove!
Now that we’ve got both of our photos open in photoshop it’s time to layer them on top of each other. Select your “person” by either clicking CTRL-A, CTRL-C or at the top of your photoshop window, SELECT -> All. Once you’ve selected your figure, go to your paper image and simply paste it on top. If you need to adjust the size, simply drag one of the corners of the “person” layer to make that image smaller or bigger depending on your personal taste.
Now you can either use layer masking if you’re comfortable or the eraser tool if you’re just starting in photoshop, because we need to get rid of the floor on the “person” image. Using either the eraser or masking tool simply get rid of any of the floor around the outline of the figure (imagine you’re using scissors to cut out a figure). It takes a bit of patience but once you’ve gone around the figure you should have a nice clean cut out.
Now we’re going to do some masking. Masking is like erasing but is a bit nicer because it allows you to easily fix any mistakes. Clicking on the little rectangle with the circle on the bottom of your layers should add a nice white box next to your “person” layer. What we want to do now is use the Marquee selection tool (looks like a dotted square at the top of your tools) and now following the white spaces of the paper select a long rectangle of your “person”. Once you’ve got a blinking rectangle, take your Brush tool (b) and make sure it’s black coloured and paint over the blinking section. It should disappear, revealing the white paper behind! If you do make a mistake and accidentally got rid of something you need, all you have to do is switch the brush colour to white and brush over it again to bring it back! Now you just have to repeat that step until you have enough lines or spaces and you have this image!
Now’s where you get to use your drawing skills, this is easiest with a drawing tablet like a Wacom but still doable with a mouse or trackpad. On a new layer (shift-ctrl-n) use a small grey coloured brush, about 2-4 pixels in size. Zoom right in and start connecting the lines of the “person” using your new pencil. It takes a bit of time but with some patience you should end up having a nice half drawn figure. Changing the size and opacity of the brush will help you with adding shadows and textures as well, or you can simply just leave it as a line drawing.
That’s pretty much all the hard work! You can add new elements like some extra drawings around the page, changing the colors, or applying filters to your own personal touch. This will get you started on a great technique combining two different mediums to create a blended half-sketched, half photographed image!
Joel Robison is a conceptual photographer based out of British Columbia, Canada. Joel has always loved the fantasy world created by the minds of Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson and many more and he enjoys putting whimsical elements inspired by these role models into his own work. Joel strongly believes in sending a positive message through art and in summer of 2013 he, along with 2 fellow photographers, created a non-profit workshop tour that took them across the United States over 2 months, teaching a portrait workshop to over 100 students. Joel was recently hired by Coca-Cola to participate as the lead photographer in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, capturing happiness in 90 countries over a 9 month period.