Create a Cartoon Effect in Photoshop

This Photoshop Tutorial teaches you step by step, how to create a cartoon effect by using the Pen Tool & the Brush Tool. We are going to be adding coloring plus shading to add a light and shade effect to our cartoon. Read the step by step guide or watch the video below to learn how.

Step 1 – Drawing Outlines With The Pen Tool

Drag and drop the image you are going to make a cartoon of into Adobe Photoshop then press the check mark or enter. Create a new layer on top and rename to Outline then select the Pen Tool, the idea is to draw an outline of the whole of the outside of the image. If you are unsure of how to use the Pen Tool then see the video to the left to help you out with a full walk through guide.

Step 2 – Filling The Cartoon Outlines With The Brush & Pen Tool

Next press B on the keyboard to select the brush tool and change the brush to a solid edged brush and the brush size to between 4 and 7 PX. This will be the thickness of the outlines we have just made with the pen tool. Set the foreground color to black and the hardness to 100%, press P on the keyboard to re select the Pen tool then right click on the outline selection and click stroke path.

Step 3 – Drawing Outlines for Smaller Features

Now you have the outlines completed, right click again and select delete path. Create a new layer on top and rename this layer to details. Using the same technique, with the pen tool draw in the smaller details such as clothing, eyes, lips etc. Press B to select the brush tool then apply the same settings as before only this time decrease the brush size around two or three sizes lower than before. Do the same again, pen tool, black foreground, right click, fill path, delete path.

Step 4 – Adding Our Base Color

Create a new layer and drag it below the Outline and Details layers, select the brush tool and hold alt and left click to select a color from the face of our original image. This color is very important as it will be the whole base of our skin tone. I would recommend sampling a color from a darker area of the face as we will add lighter tones to suit lighting after we have added our base color. Apply all of your base colors using this technique including the face hair clothing etc.

Step 5 – Adding Shading To Our Base Color

Create a new layer and press P on the keyboard to select the pen tool again, turn off the base color layer leaving only the outlines and using the pen tool create a shape around the face where the lighting is coming from. Use the outlines of the face and features to hide the lines sticking as close to the lighter parts of the original image as possible. Do the same for clothing or anything else in the image which is affected by light, we are going to be adding lighter tones to this area so pay particular attention. Drag this layer to below both the outline and details layers so when we fill, it will be hidden behind the outlines. Choose the brush tool again and show your base colors layer and sample the base color using Alt & Left click. Go back over to the pen tool and right click on your selection, fill sub path and choose foreground color. Now to add the shading set the blending mode to multiply and adjust the opacity depending on the brightness of each particular area. If you need to create a new layer for each shade then do so or just add one tone to each area.

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