Cartoon Character Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Hello everyone, Chris from Spoon Graphics here with another video tutorial Today we're going to have some fun manipulating a portrait photograph to create a cool cartoon character effect

We'll exaggerate the facial features and send the proportions way off to achieve that popular caricature style, but since we're not drawing the portrait from scratch, it retains a degree of realism and ensures the result has a strong resemblance to the subject The key to a good result is a professional photograph to work with Ideally the image needs to be high resolution with crisp focus and lighting This process also favours subjects with short or tied up hair, otherwise it becomes tricky when trying to clip the head from the body Since I'm not creating this effect for any particular final use, I'm using this stock image of a lady from Shutterstock, but if you wanted to do this effect to yourself, sourcing a professional image from a studio would give you the best results

First we need to separate the subject from the background Grab the Pen tool and zoom right in to the document Begin tracing around the outline of the subject, but when you reach the hair, just capture it within a rough path When you're done, right click and select Make Selection Entering 0

5px in the feathering helps avoid a harsh edge Copy and paste this clipping onto a new layer, then fill the background with white The Channels method is the best way to clip out any fine hairs that are against a clean background Switch to the Channels panel and find the channel with the highest contrast Drag that channel over the New icon to duplicate it, then select the Dodge tool

Reduce the exposure to under 50% in the top toolbar, then paint around the edge of the hair to brighten the whites Switch over to the Burn tool and reduce the exposure Paint over the hair to to increase the contrast Toggle back to the Layers panel and CMD+click on the clipped layer's thumbnail to load its selection Switch back over to the Channels to safely use this mask to paint over the subject with a black brush

Be careful when you reach the head though, that needs some fine control to capture the main facial outline Paint over the inner areas of the face and hair, but use the Pen tool to finish off the outline of the face that isn't currently surrounded by the mask Once you have a solid black silhouette of the subject, CMD+Click on the duplicated channel's thumbnail to loads its selection Click the main RGB channel to switch back to a full colour view, then delete this selected area from your main working layer in the Layers panel to completely clip out the subject Grab the Pen tool again and draw around the head of the subject

Most of the portrait is already clipped out so a rough selection will do, just make sure you carefully follow the line of the chin Right click and select Make Selection, then copy and paste the head onto its own layer Rather than scale the head up, we'll scale the body down to retain the image quality Select the main body layer and press CMD+T (or go to Edit > Transform) Hold the Shift and ALT keys while scaling the layer to keep it in proportion

Move it around until the comedically large head looks as natural as it can be on the body Select the head layer in the Layers panel, then use the Pen tool to draw around the eyes The subject in my example image is wearing glasses, so I'll cover this process first, then explain the slight difference for portraits with naked eyes Trace around the inner edge of the frame with the Pen tool, then right click and choose Make Selection Copy and paste the selection onto a new layer, then reduce the opacity slightly so you can see the original image underneath

Press CMD+T to scale the eye, then reposition it by roughly matching up the centre of the pupil with the original Return the opacity back to 100%, then switch to the Paths panel and CMD+click the thumbnail of the path that outlines the frame to loads its selection again Inverse the selection then hit delete Actually, rather than deleting, using a Layer Mask would allow you to reposition the eye if necessary The process is a little different with naked eyes

The selection just needs to be rough but leaving plenty of padding around the eye Copy and paste the selection onto a new layer, reduce the opacity and scale the eye Then use a soft brush with a layer mask to erase the edges and blend the larger eye back in, bringing back the eyebrows, cheeks and the edge of the face Repeat the process on the other eye, scaling it to roughly the same size Now this is an afterthought but ideally we would have scaled the head and body layers down, rather than scaling the eye layer up to retain full image quality, but if you're working with a high resolution photo to begin with, the interpolation isn't that noticeable

Select the new eye layers along with the head layer and merge them together with either the Layer > Merge Layers menu option, or the CMD+E shortcut Next, go to Filter > Liquify This is where we can have loads of fun exaggerating the subject's facial features Select the Pucker tool and alter the brush size with the square bracket keys until it covers the nose Click one or two times to subtly reduce it in size

Switch over to the Bloat tool and alter the brush so it surrounds the mouth Click a few times to enlarge it Select the standard Warp tool at the top of the Liquify toolbar, then carefully readjust the face using a large brush to exaggerate their facial expression So, if they're smiling, bring their cheeks up to enhance the smile If they're frowning, move their brow down

OK the changes, then select the body layer from the Layers panel and go to Filter > Liquify again Make sure you select the right menu option The one at the top will repeat the same effects We want to add some new adjustments We don't need to worry about the head on this layer because it's covered up by the new larger head, but use the Pucker tool to shrink the hands and arms

Press OK then merge the head and body layers into one That's the main adjustments done, but there's some finishing touches that will help give the portrait a toy like appearance Create a new layer and go to Edit > Fill Choose 50% gray, then change the blending mode to Overlay Select the Burn tool, which should still have a low exposure value

Begin painting over the dark areas of the portrait to enhance the shadows Switch over the the Dodge tool and paint over the highlights Adjust the brush size to carefully trace over highlights on the lips and to whiten the eyes Reduce the opacity of the layer to tone down the effects of the dodging and burning so it's not too harsh, but so it still adds some extra contrast to the image Go to Edit > Select All (or hit CMD+A), then select Copy Merged from the Edit Menu

Paste this selection onto a new layer then go to Filter > Other > High Pass Enter 2px for the radius Invert this layer using the shortcut CMD+I, or Image > Adjustments > Invert, then change the blending mode to Overlay This layer smooths out the skin to remove the pores for more of a plastic appearance, but it's not required on certain areas Add a Layer Mask, then use a soft black brush to erase the blurring from the eyes, lips, eyebrows and hair

Press CMD+V or Edit > Paste to add another duplicate of the original image, then add another High Pass filter Change the blending mode to Overlay without inverting it, which will sharpen the image Add a layer mask and fill it with black to hide it all, then use a soft white brush to bring the sharpening back in those key areas of the eyes, lips, hair and eyebrows A final selection of everything can be made by CMD+clicking the main working layer's thumbnail, then selecting Copy Merged and pasting it on a new layer A new background can be added then the canvas cropped to finish off the effect

If you enjoyed this tutorial a thumbs up or a share with your friends on Twitter or Facebook would be a great way to help spread the word about my tutorials If you want to stick around for more video tutorials be sure to subscribe to my channel, or you can stop by at my website for loads of written tutorials and free design resources So as always thank you very much for watching and I'll catch you in the next one

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