photoshop creative

How to paint a portrait from a photo using Photoshop, part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 25, 2013

Here’s how you can manipulate a real portrait photo into an anime-inspired painting with brushes and masks – part 2 goes up on Wednesday

Download all the tutorial files you need here



Paint from a photo in Photoshop


First things first: set your brush to Hard Round with Opacity and Flow at 100%. Adjust the Size of your brush by scrolling through the Master Diameter, or you can use the default shortcut keys [ and ].


Pressing F5 will pop up the Brush Preset options where you can edit your brush strokes. In this step, note the three brush settings you can see on the screenshot. We will be changing our Brush settings as we go along. Please note that you can’t achieve these settings without a pen tablet.


Now let’s create a new file – go to File>New. We’ll use a standard A4 size, so choose International Paper for the preset option and set Size to A4, then click OK. Don’t forget to rename the file.


Open your file in Photoshop by going to File>Open, then select the Move tool and click and drag your image to the A4 size file. Go to Edit>Transform>Scale to scale the image to fit with the A4 size file. Holding the Shift key while scaling will maintain the aspect ratio of the image.


Next, name the layer ‘Original’ then duplicate it by going to Layer>Duplicate Layer and name it ‘Edit’. Hide the Original layer for back-up use. Now, while selecting the Edit layer go to Layer>Vector Mask>Unhide All then select the Hard Round brush tool with ‘Brush Setting 1’ in step 2 and colour the parts you want to mask out.


Now create a new layer above the Edit layer and name it ‘Hair’. Use the Hard Round brush tool with ‘Brush Setting 1 or 2’ in step 2 to paint the hair with a basic colour. Next, make another new layer and call it ‘Outlines’. We recommend you use ‘Brush Setting 2’ in step 2 and start painting the eyes and the eyebrows as well.


This time we’re going to add a headphone. With the same brushes used with the hair, create a new layer and label it ‘Headphone’, then paint over the image using a basic colour.


We need to add more random thin hairs to the hair to make it look better. Select the Hard Round brush tool with ‘Brush Setting 1 or 2’, then change your brush size from Range 5px to 1px. Create a new layer and label it ‘Eyeball Colour’. We’ll now colour the eyeballs. Let’s choose a darker colour first then add some lighter colour for the highlights.


Next, let’s create those shiny reflections in the eyeballs. Create a new layer and label it ‘Highlights’. Select the Hard Round brush tool then choose a white colour as your foreground and paint a little highlight at the eyeballs where the light is coming from, or you can follow the reflections of your original image. If you’re not sure where to place it, it’s best to look for some references.


Creating fur is quite similar to creating hair – simply adjust your brush size from Range 5px to 1px. Create a new layer and call it ‘Fur’ then paint it over the image. We also need to paint some clothes in, so make another new layer below the Hair layer and paint over her clothes.

Continue to part 2 of this tutorial…