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Add some fun and flair to your art with a colorful crayon creation

Added on Saturday 24th of October 2009 04:23 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t crave an occasional crayon creation. Creating a loosely sketched waxy crayon drawing in Photoshop is so easy that you’ll wish all of your art was this fun!


To create a crayon masterpiece in Photoshop, we’ll:

•     Convert an image into outlines to mimic a coloring page.

•     Adjust the tone of the raster drawing to clean up and darken the outlines.

•     Use the original image and the Art History Brush tool to colorize the drawing.


If you’ve sprawled out on the living room floor with your big box of 64 crayons lately, you’re probably in the minority. But crayon art projects offer such an elusive, fun, free feeling that it’s a shame to let them fade from your portfolio permanently. Well, here’s a way you can bring back some of that whimsy into your work. We’ll show you how, with Photoshop’s Art History Brush tool, you can create a fun and impressionistic piece of art, as illustrated in Figure A.



Choose your subject


The first step for producing any type of artwork is choosing a subject. A suitable image for this technique is one with a simple subject that has well-defined lines and is full of color, such as the original image of the hot air balloon, shown in Figure A.


Download: To work along with us, download our sample image balloon.jpg from the URL listed at the beginning of this article. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)


Create an outline


Once you select an image, you can begin to transform it into an outline drawing ready for coloring. You’ll start by rendering a sketch of the image. Luckily, you don’t have to really draw it. Instead, you’ll use the Find Edges filter in Photoshop to convert the image into outlines. Then, you’ll use Levels to refine them.


Important: Before you open the image you’ve selected to use for this technique, launch Photoshop, choose History Options in the History panel’s pop-up menu, and make sure the Automatically Create First Snapshot check box is selected. Click OK and continue.


To convert a photo into a line drawing:

1.       Open the image in Photoshop.

2.      Choose Filter > Stylize > Find Edges. Photoshop creates a border around the dark and light transitions of color and removes all other data.

3.      Select Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or press [command][shift]U ([Ctrl][Shift]U in Windows) to strip the remaining color from the outlines, as shown in Figure B.

4.      Choose Image > Adjustments > Levels or press [command]L ([Ctrl]L in Windows) to open the Levels dialog box.

5.      Drag the black input slider to the right and the white input slider to the left to force gray midtone shades to black or white, respectively. You can see the Input Level settings for our working image in Figure C. Click OK when you’re done.

As shown in Figure D, this cleans up your sketch considerably. Your image is now ready for color.





Layer it on


If you were to paint directly on the background layer, you would cover up the lines you just created. The use of multiple layers and blending allows you to preserve the black outlines on the Background layer as you paint on an underlying layer.


To create a new layer below the Background layer:

1.       Choose Window > Layers, if necessary, to show the Layers panel.

2.      Double-click on the Background layer to open the New Layer dialog box.

3.      Enter Outlines in the Name text box, and then choose Multiply from the Mode pop-up menu. Click OK to apply the change. In doing so, you’ve accomplished two things: You’ve unlocked the Background layer, and you’ve changed its blending mode. This enables you to see the color you’ll add to the underlying layer you’re about to create.

4.      [command][option]-click ([Ctrl][Alt]-click in Windows...


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