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    Convert photos to cartoons with Photoshop

    Who I am
    Judit Llordés
    @juditllordés

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    Photoshop can create all kinds of sharp effects if you play around with image filters and adjustments, but one of the most popular is a cartoon-like effect. There are several ways to achieve a cartoonish look, depending on what you are looking for, but our method should give your photos a unique look. Follow these steps to convert an image into a cartoon in minutes.


    The following guide focuses on Adobe Photoshop CC version 20.0.4. Most of the methods also work with older versions of Photoshop, but the terminology may not be exact.



    How to turn a photo into a cartoon with Photoshop

    Take the image you want to work with and upload it to Photoshop. Images with high contrast areas work best, but this effect will work on anything as long as you play around with the settings to get the effect you are looking for.

    1. Before you do anything else, make a copy of your image layer so you can always revert to the original image if needed. Select your image level and press Ctrl (o DCM ) + J. Alternatively, select the layer, then select Subscription > Duplicate level in the top menu.

      If you can't see the Levels window, open it by going to Windows > Layers.

    2. Name the new level in a distinctive way. We will call it “Top” for the duration of this guide.

    3. Make sure the “Top” layer is selected, then select Filter > Filter gallery > Artistic > Poster borders.



    4. Use the preview window while adjusting the sliders to get a more defined look for the new layer. The following settings are recommended: Edge thickness : 10 ; Edge intensity : 10 ; Posterization : 2 . When done, select OK.

    5. Select Image > Adjustments > Threshold > and set it to 50, then select OK.

    6. Select Filter > Stylization > Oil painting. Again, adjust the settings as desired. For an effect similar to the one in the header image, select the following: Stylization : 5.0 ; Cleaning , 2.0 . Leave everything else default, then select OK.

    7. Duplicate the original layer again and assign it to something else. We will refer to it as “Color” for the purpose of this guide. 

    8. Hide the "Top" layer. In the Levels window, select the eye symbol to the left of the level.

    9. Select the “Color” layer, then select Filter > Filter gallery > Artistic > Poster borders .

    10. Make any changes you see fit, using the preview window to measure its strength and effectiveness, or use the following values: Edge thickness : 0 , Edge intensity : 0 , Posterization : 2.0 . Then select OK .

    11. With the “Color” layer still selected, select Image > Adjustments > Layers , or press Ctrl (o DCM ) + L .


    12. Select and move the cursor Output levels to reduce the overall contrast of the image by about a quarter. When you are happy with the result, select OK .



      This depends on the coloring of your particular image, so go back to this step and repeat it later if needed to make further adjustments.

    13. Select Image > Adjustments > Hue and saturation a prize Ctrl (o DCM ) + U , use the cursor Saturation to increase the color intensity of the image so that each color is clearly defined. Select OK when you are satisfied with the results.

      If at any point during this process you change the image in a way you don't like, press Ctrl (o DCM ) + Z to cancel the action. Alternatively, press Ctrl (o DCM ) + Other + Z to perform various undo steps.


    14. Select Filter > Stylization > Oil painting . Either make your adjustments as before, or follow these guidelines: Stylization : 5.0 ; Cleaning : 2.0 . Select OK when you are satisfied with the results.

    15. Highlight the “Top” layer again and select the empty box next to it in the Layers window to make it visible.

    16. Use the blend modes drop-down box at the top of the window to select Multiply .

      A slightly different effect can also be found if you select Darken o Linear Burn , then choose the one that provides the final image closest to your wishes and expectations.

    17. Awards Ctrl / CMD + L to open the Levels tool again and make any changes you prefer to the dark, medium and light tones to change the various contrasting elements of the image. When you are happy with the result, select OK .

    Further Reading:

    • How to make a photo collage on Android
    • How to edit photos on iPhone
    • How to remove glare from Snapseed
    • Best websites for creating free online flyers
    • How to put a Live wallpaper on iPhone and Android
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