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Juggle paths, filter effects, and color for show-stopping images

Added on Tuesday 22nd of April 2008 07:05 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh


If you've never considered using Photoshop for your drawing needs, you should think again—you might be missing out on some remarkable results. We’ll show you how to combine Photoshop paths and filter effects with photographs to create original, outstanding imagery.

When creating a digital drawing, your first instinct might be to turn to Adobe Illustrator. But don’t ignore Photoshop’s drawing capabilities. Although the paths you use in Photoshop work somewhat differently than in Illustrator, they can be just as effective. Couple Photoshop paths with filter effects, and you can create exciting works of art, as shown in Figure A.


Conceptualize your art
The process of creating a drawing begins with the end—that is, with the finished vision or concept. The concept is the idea or mood you want your drawing to convey. By identifying the concept first and working back to the beginning, you can plan which actions and effects in Photoshop you’ll use to accomplish what look you’re after.
                Let’s now outline a concept and then create a drawing. To follow along using our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article. Then extract the file juggler.jpg, launch Photoshop, and open the file. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Plan your vision
Our concept is centered around a drawing of a circus juggler. We want the juggler to be under a bright spotlight so he appears almost monochromatic. To help achieve this effect, we’ll fade the background to black. We want the drawing to have a loose, wet impasto look. To do this, we'll select, copy, and paste each major section of the image into a new layer using paths. We’ll then apply a filter effect and paint each section. Finally, we’ll use several paths to create a number of palette-knife-like strokes at the edges of several sections.
To rep the file:



  1. Open the downloaded file, shown in Figure B, and rename the Background layer Photo (thus unlocking the layer). Although we could use the existing colors in the photo as the basis for our drawing, the colors are so far from our concept that it will be easier to work with a monochromatic image. So, let’s now discard the color information.

  1. Select Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer.
  2. Select the Monochrome check box to convert the image to grayscale values, as shown in Figure C, and click OK. Now we’re ready to outline each section of our drawing using paths.


Draw a path for each section in the image
Now we can draw a path around each section in our image. We’ll make separate paths for the face, the hair, the scarf, the shirt, the jacket, the pants, the shoes, and the hat and cane. We’ll start with the pants.

To create paths around the photo elements:
  1. Select the Pen tool from the Tools panel and select the Paths button on the tool options bar.
  2. Draw a path that outlines the pants. Because we want our drawing to have a loose look, the path doesn’t need to be too precise.
  3. Double-click on the Work Path in the Paths palette and name it Pants.
  4. Click on the Create New Path button at the base of the Paths palette to create a new path.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4, creating a separate path for each section we mentioned previously.

Copy and paste each section in the image
Because we’ve drawn and saved our paths, we can use them to select, copy, and paste each section of our image into a separate layer.

To create new layers from our path selections:
  1. Display the Paths palette and select the Pants path.
  2. Select the Load Path As A Selection button located at the base of the Paths palette. The path becomes a selection path, as shown in Figure D.


  1. Press [command]C ([Ctrl]C in Windows) to copy the pants area, and then press [command]V ([Ctrl]V in Windows) to paste it into a new layer.
  2. Rename the newly pasted layer Pants.
  3. Select the Photo layer, and then repeat steps 1-4 for each path. Name each respective layer Face, Hair, Scarf, Shirt, Jacket, Shoes, and Hat And Cane.

Apply a filter effect to each layer
Because each section of our image is now on a separate layer, we can apply filter effects easily. Our purpose in doing this is to change the photographic look of each section to more of an illustrative look. Photoshop comes with a wide variety of effects that we can use, such as Dry Brush, Fresco, and Poster Edges, but the Stamp filter effect gives us the loose, flat appearance we’re after.

To apply the Stamp filter:
  1. Press D to set the foreground and background colors to their defaults of black and white respectively. The Stam...

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