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Turn photo into Comic Book Effect in Photoshop Tutorial Cartoon in Photoshop

How to turn a photo of a person into a comic book in Photoshop

A really fun effect, is when we turn a photo into a comic book illustration. There are many different ways to do this and I have other alternative tutorials here at the CAFE. I saw the Spider-man Into the Spider-verse movie and liked the effect there. Here are really easy steps where you can get a similar result. Watch the video for detailed instructions and use the written steps for quick reference. Bookmark and share this tutorial!

The picture used come from Adobe Stock, you can grab it here.

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How to turn a photo into a comic book illustration, easy written steps.

Step 1

Start with a photo that has a clean background, use this tutorial to clean up the background if you need to and replace it with a solid color.

photo of people to turn into a sketch

Step 2

Duplicate the layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J

duplicate layer in Photoshop

Step 3

Choose Filter>Other>High Pass
Adjust until you see an outline. 8.7 in this case.

Click Ok

high pass filter

Step 4

Duplicate the Layer (Ctrl/Cmd+J)

duplicate layer, Photoshop CC 2019

Step 5

Invert the top layer (Ctrl/Cmd+I)

invert layer

Step 6

Change to Divide Blending mode. You should see something that’s starting to look like pencil sketch. (Free Blending Mode ebook here– over 1,000,000 downloads so far!)

out line in Photoshop

Step 7

Merge the 2 top layers. Here is how…

Hold Shift and click on the second layer, so that the 2 top layers are selected.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+E to Merge the 2 top layers.

outline in Photoshop

Step 8. Squeezing the details.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+L for Levels. (Or create a Levels adjustment layer)

Slide the black slider to the left until is hits the white area of the histogram (117)

Move the gray, mid tone slider to the right until the image looks like below. (.63)

Click ok

squeezing with levels in Photoshop

Step 9

Duplicate the background (Ctrl/Cmd+J) Drag the new duplicated layer to the top of the layers panel

photoshop layers panel

Step 10

Choose Filter>Blur>Surface Blur

I chose:  Radius 15 / Threshold 39 (Your settings may vary if you are using different resolution images)

We are looking for a nice smooth look to the surface color and texture and still keeping outline detail.

surface blur in Photoshop

Step 11

Now we have options, depending on the result you want.

My preferred option is to choose Hard  Light mode, by changing the where it says Normal in the Layers panel

a comic book sketch effect in photoshop

This is what it looks like in Linear Light mode

photoshop cartoon effect

Optional Step: Variations of the style

If you like, you can adjust the opacity for a variation


refining our comic book effect

Also consider adding a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the colors.

photoshop blend modes for variations

And, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this weeks tutorial here at the CAFE!


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Drop a comment and see you next week!


PS, remember, create, don’t steal

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29 responses to “Turn photo into Comic Book Effect in Photoshop Tutorial Cartoon in Photoshop”

  1. I’ve seen a few variations on this effect over the years but this method seems to produce the coolest results. Kudos!

    Would welcome an explanation from Adobe why the appearance of the merged blend modes changes… that’s not supposed to happen, right?

  2. Tutorial sucked. Did you even follow your own directions. I used your picture and nothing was right.

  3. I got confused at the Invert the top layer step 5. I am using CS6 but when I click invert nothing happens. It has always been my experience that something must be selected to invert but you don’t say what to invert.

    Loved how creative and fun this can make photos. I’m sure I’m missing something but woudl love the feedback. Thanks!

    • Click on the layer as shown in the screen capture and then press Ctrl+I and it will be inverted

  4. My outcomes are not upto the mark.
    I am following the steps right

    I am unsure about
    the measurements though in
    high pass
    and finally Surface Blur

    Could you help me with the same file I worked on?

  5. I take photos of people at museums photographing the art. I’d like to make part of the photo cartoonish but not all of it. Will your method work with part of the photo? I haven’t tried it yet.

  6. Hi looks easy and great results but I am stuck on the blending mode part! At part 6 I should change the blending mode to divide, I don’t appear to have that . Any help gratefully received! Thank you

  7. I Loved the comic book tutorial! I was wondering if you could do an off-shoot of this tutorial to make custom emojis for use on a smartphone for text and email messages? I guess that could also apply for using them on Facebook. I’m not sure what format they would have to be in or how to import them into the smartphone.

  8. Hi, thanks for the tutorial but I’m stuck at step 6 because I’m not seeing ‘divide’ in the drop down menu? Please help!

  9. Sorry! I just found ‘divide’ in the drop down menu. DOH!

    Again, thank you for this fun tutorial! I loved the results.

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