Create Basic Line Art from Your Photos

By Melissa Evans

Line Art Tutorial Recommended for Beginner to Intermediate Level Photoshop Users

This Adobe Photoshop tutorial will turn your photos into line art with just a few quick steps. You find that this tutorial works well for most objects!

Create Line Art with Photoshop 01

However you will find that this technique does not work well with photos of humans. You will have to check out the tutorial Turn Photos of People into Line Art for that. Let’s get started…

1) Preparing the Image

First you want to isolate the object and delete the rest of the photo i.e the background.

To cut out the gun I use the Pen Tool. Now to some-up how to use Photoshop’s pen tool in a few sentences isn’t easy…if you have never used the pen tool before, do the PEN TOOL TUTORIAL first.

Remember to make sure the pen tool is set to create a Work Path See below.

Create a Path in Photoshop

Take the pen tool create a path around the gun.

Create Line Art with Photoshop 02b

Now go to your Paths palette. (There are 3 tabs on the Layers window, so click on the Paths tab to reveal the Paths palette. See image below).

Create Line Art with Photoshop 02c

Load path as a selection. (Click on the dotted circle button at the bottom of the Paths palette). See the image above.

Change your tool to the Move Tool (hit the V key)

Copy this selection. Ctrl + C

Paste Ctrl + V

Go back to your “Layers” palette and rename this new layer “gun”.

Create a new layer (Create New Layer Button in Photoshop).

Fill it white.

Rename it “background” and place it below the “gun” layer. See image below.

Create Line Art with Photoshop 03

Finally make sure your image doesn’t have any colour…


(Although it’s not 100% neccessary to desaturate the image, you’ll find that you generally achieve better results if you include this step).

Create Line Art with Photoshop 04

2) Creating the Lines

Working on the “gun” layer apply the Smart Blur filter.
Filter >> Blur >> Smart Blur…

Set the Quality to High and the Mode to Edge Only. Adjust the sliders for the Radius and Threshold while watching YOUR preview. When you achieve the desired result click OK. My settings are shown below.

Create Line Art with Photoshop 05

Now invert the image
Image >> Adjust >> Invert

Create Line Art with Photoshop 06

Apply a black stroke to your “gun” layer.
Edit >> Stroke…
Adjust the Stroke Width to suit YOUR picture and click OK.

Create Line Art with Photoshop 07

Almost there…

Create Line Art with Photoshop 08

Now to make the existing lines jump out a bit and look more defined use the filter Poster Edges
Filter >> Artistic >> Poster Edges

Create Line Art with Photoshop 08b

You could stop there because it’s probably looking great now but let’s make it fantastic!
Apply the Cutout filter with settings similar to what is shown below.
Filter >> Artistic >> Cutout…

Create Line Art with Photoshop 09

“Oh yes”

Create Line Art with Photoshop 10

Inevitably you will have a few unwanted squiggles here and there. Just clean them up using your paint tool if you want it perfect.

That’s it!

I hope you found this Photoshop tutorial helpful. Feel free to contact me via my contact page if you have any questions.

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