photoshop creative

How to make a cityscape image look like an artistic illustration in Photoshop

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by The Photoshop Creative Team
June 25, 2014

We dish out some of our bets tips for turning a photo into an illustration-style effect

STEP 01 – Desaturate

First open an image and hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer. Click Cmd/Ctrl+U to open the Hue/Saturation and set Saturation to -100.

 STEP 02 – Invert and blend

Duplicate the image again and click Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert, set the blend mode for the layer to Color Dodge.

STEP 03 – Motion blurring

With the Layer 1 copy still active, go to Filters and apply the Gaussian Blur to bring the contours back, setting the Radius to around 5 pixels.

STEP 04 – Stylise

Grab the Layer 1 and drag above the Layer 1 copy. Go to Filter>Stylize and apply the Glowing Edges filter, setting the Width Edge to 1, Edge Brightness to 20, Smoothness to 15, and hit Ok.

STEP 05 – Alter lighting

With the layer 1 still active, press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert and change the blend mode  to Multiply. Click on the Background layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl+L, drag the sliders to increase or decrease the contrast.

  • Freeman1776

    Really poor instructions here. Tried to follow it, but made no sense tome. I may need help with photoshop tricks, but whoever made this tutorial needs help with creating an understandable tutorial.

  • There is no image no explanation of each steps and also there is no outcome has been shown here. From which image what you got?

  • Helen Bradley

    This has to be a step missing here. The ‘final’ image shows some motion blur and the heading for Step 3 is Motion Blur but a Gaussian Blur is used which won’t show any movement. I’ve been trying to get the sense of what is happening..but haven’t yet been able to work out the missing step!

  • FloydLaw

    Good tips. Horribly written. Decyphered:
    1. First open an image.

    2. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer. Rename this layer “Layer 01”.

    3. Click Cmd/Ctrl+U to open the Hue/Saturation and set Saturation of Layer 01 to -100.

    4. Duplicate Layer 01 & rename it Layer 02.

    5. Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert Layer 02. Change layer mode of Layer 02 to Color Dodge.

    6. With Layer 02 still active, goto filters and apply the gaussian blur with a radius of about 5 pixels.

    7. Drag Layer 01 above Layer 02. Apply Glowing Filters to Layer 1. Setting Width Edge to 1, Brightness to 20, smoothness to 15.

    8. Invert Layer 01 and change blend mode to Multiple

    9. Select Background layer and hit Ctrl +L. Drag sliders to increase or decrease the contrast.

  • Elijah Ford

    The internet needs more people like you

  • Katie McWhorter

    Am I missing something? I swear I followed these steps to a T. I’m fairly comfortable and familiar with photoshop but when I apply these filters and changes to the layers, my end result is nothing. Both layer 1 and 2 are just white.

  • Really nice looking tutorial, I might try it! thanks.

  • ManshuGandra

    great! …and easy to follow. just take a photo and make an illustration..cant see the problem in following simple instructions…

  • Carole Scott

    I disagree with the complaints about instructions in the comments below. I found this easy to follow and am now having huge fun with it on some of my street photography.

  • Carole Scott

    Here’s a sample!

  • Carole Scott

    And the original…

  • Effective tips for city photography. Though the strategy is good it will take quite long time to follow it successfully. Anyway, thanks for your tips.

  • Nancy Heuser Kahl

    Thank you both so much! Mine turned out great!’ Before and after gift for a friend.