Creating striking illustrations in Photoshop is easy when you use photography as your starting point. You don't really need any traditional drawing skills, you simply need to understand which tools are right for the task at hand, and how to use them to your advantage. All of the details and divisions of color necessary to create a stunning illustration exist in your photography, you just need to recognize the potential within the image and make use of it.
The technique of illustrating over photography revealed in this chapter does involve tracing, but as you define areas with paths, you can simplify, embellish or sharpen the areas of detail as you see fit. For example, take a look at the sky in the background of this illustration. By taking some creative license while creating the outlines of the clouds, I was able to give them a sharp, stylized effect. And it was this effect that dictated the overall style of the finished illustration. In general, the curves are smoother than those in the original photograph, and the detail is minimal in comparison. By using only the necessary details provided by the original image it becomes simpler. The result of this is a much more striking image than the original, especially when viewing it from a distance.
Simplifying and exercising creative license when rendering detail is only a part of what makes this image so striking. This style of illustration owes a lot of its success to color. The colors are bright and the divisions are bold. Highlights and shadows are simplified. And perhaps most important of all, colors are chosen not by what is indicated in the original image, but by what works best within the finished illustration.
So before you begin, try to change your mental framework a little from the norm, this is not an auto trace effect we're creating here, it is an illustration based on a photo. When tracing, do not trace exactly, try to embellish and introduce a nice sharp style to the image. When adding color, make bold decisions. Think about what you'd like to see, rather than what you actually see in the existing photograph. Bearing this in mind as your work will ensure that your finished illustrations surpass any source photos you use.
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