How to create coloring book pages from photos

#1
Hi,
I'm trying to create coloring book pages from photos. There seems to be a general technique online where a photo is copied, inverted, desaturated with a mode set to color dodge, then a Gaussian blur is applied. I've seen other techniques just by applying a sketch or photocopy filter.


I'm looking for a more advanced technique to generate better results. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Many thanks,
Jeff


 

IamSam

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
#2
Hello and welcome to PSG.

The first technique you mentioned works great. I have also used the photocopy filter before and just cleaned up the results.

I will check and see if I can find a better technique.
 
#3
Hi and thanks for the welcome. I've heard others say that tracing the outlines in illustrator might be better (in fact there appears to be an automated way to do this) but I wanted the images to have a realistic look. I'm creating coloring books and one consumer complaint is the undesirable hard outline edges hence wanting to convert real images. Let me know if you have any success finding any additional methods..... thanks
 

IamSam

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
#4
Hi and thanks for the welcome. I've heard others say that tracing the outlines in illustrator might be better (in fact there appears to be an automated way to do this) but I wanted the images to have a realistic look. I'm creating coloring books and one consumer complaint is the undesirable hard outline edges hence wanting to convert real images. Let me know if you have any success finding any additional methods..... thanks
I think Illustrator would be the better way to go. Let's get gedstar in on this conversation.

I will continue to search for solution in Ps, but most everything I'm finding is a variation of the techniques you mentioned.
 

IamSam

Administrator
Staff member
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#6
Thanks Tom, I was looking for that thread. I have it bookmarked now.

If you still have that plugin, could you try it on an photo of a real person?
 
#9
Hey Tom,
Those look great... I'm using Photoshop Elements 10 so are most of those effects achievable in the native program or do they require a plug-in?
Thanks,
 
#10
As you know, there are a huge number of ways to transform a photo into something that some people might say looks like a cartoon. It's all in the eye of the beholder and what they consider to be a cartoon. You didn't say which of the effects in that old thread you were interested in, so I picked one effect that only uses PS's native tools, specifically, "Glowing Edges" (on a low contrast, B&W version of the original). I then added some of the color from the original back in as the very last step.

These type of manipulations are highly dependent on the starting image, so I can almost guarantee you that even if you find an effect that you like on one image, you will have to tweak the process to get it to look good on other images. I doubt you will ever have a fully automated process (unless your standards are pretty low, LOL).

With respect to your question about whether or not PS Elements could do the same thing, unfortunately, I can't help you on that. I don't have any version of Elements installed on my system, and the last time I even demo'ed a version was many years ago. If you like this particular effect, I'll be happy to show you what I did in the full version of PS, but you'll have to figure out for yourself whether the technique can be reproduced in Elements.

Anyway, I started with this photo of our glorious leader, Trump:

Trump-tjm01-acr-ps02a_for_GIF-00_orig.jpg

And converted it into this with only a few steps (as outlined in the 1st paragraph):

Trump-tjm01-acr-ps02a_for_GIF-01_cartoonized_v1.jpg

I won't be offended in the least if you don't like it because there are so many different cartoon looks and you didn't provide any examples of digitally converted cartoon looks that you like.

Cheers,

Tom M
 
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#11
Hey Tom,
I like that effect and your right... always in the eye of the beholder. I may try doing different coloring books with different effects to see which ones customers like most. I really appreciate your time and thanks for providing this example. If you have time, I'd enjoy seeing the steps you used which I'm sure can be done in PSE.

So would you recommend converting the image to a cartoon style first (as in your example) and then applying desaturation, color dodging and gaussian blurring to change it to a black and white coloring page.

Thanks,
Jeff
 

bbq_bob

Active Member
#12
Here is my attempt. I think the OP was looking for a B&W image that could be colored in the old fashion way (before photoshop). This was just done in the known method of bluring, sharpening, saturating, poster edges, and then applying the photocopy filter, so I'm not illustrating anything here other than perhaps the OP's desired outcome.

colormein.jpg

I've seen that Digital Anarchy and Topaz have plugins for making cartoons. I've never used either, but those or others might achieve the better quality coloring page that you seek.
 
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#13
Thank you, bbq_bob, and sorry, jdennis.

To be honest, I completely missed the point in the OP's very first post that he was looking for a method that would put the image it in a state where it consists only of outlines / guidelines and could be manually colored, so I blithely went on my merry way and essentially answered the wrong question, LOL. I didn't realize this till his most recent post.

Anyway, the attached animated GIF shows my first try at a method to address the correct problem.

Trump-tjm01-acr-ps03c-final_results_for_GIF_BW_coloring_book-698px_wide-merge_annotation_layers.gif


There are two obvious problems with this method:

1) Quite a few of the lines are much too dark and heavy for a conventional coloring book. The correct way to thin my lines down would be to use a technique called "line erosion", some variants of which can stop eroding when the line gets down to a specified number of pixels wide. Unfortunately, Photoshop doesn't supply this tool or any good way to emulate it, and I don't know of any PS plugin that will do it. AFAIK, it is only available in computer languages used for mathematical image processing such as Matlab and Mathematica. One work-around for this problem would be to print the black lines seen above as a very light gray, hardly noticed after they are colored over by the end user.

2) Unlike conventional coloring books, my lines (and those of similar techniques) do not form closed areas that effectively tell the user, "use only one color in this area". Some end users who are artistically talented won't need this level of guidance, and may even prefer un-connected light gray "hint" lines (as suggested above), but children and less talented folks probably will prefer closed areas. Unfortunately, the only way I can think of to convert what we currently have to closed areas is to do it manually (ie, either with the pen tool or a simple brush).

Let me keep thinking about this.

Cheers,

Tom M
 
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