How To: Halftone Cartoon Image Effect


Welcome to the first (well, technically second) blog post for Handy Dandy Designs! In this post, we will be doing a quick and easy Photoshop tutorial. This tutorial will teach you how to make portraits (and other things) look like they came straight out of a comic book! BOOM!! It’s gonna be a lot of fun, so let’s get to it!

Step 1: Download the Assets

Before we start, you are gonna need a portrait! Keep in mind, you can always do this with your own image, but if you want to follow along with this project, you can download the image we used here. (For this tutorial, we are using the original size: 6016 x 4016)

Step 2: Removing the Background

Next, you will want to open the image in Photoshop. Once this is done, duplicate the layer by holding Alt/Option Key, then clicking and dragging it upwards. This is the image you will be editing. (Also, hide the original image for safe-keeping) By default our image has a blue background, and we don't want that. There are a multitude of ways to remove backgrounds, but for this project, I'm going to use the Select and Mask. Grab the Quick Selection tool, (this might show up as the magic wand for you, just right click it and select Quick Selection) and select the background around the man.


Now click, Select and Mask, and this will open up a separate UI. For this step, I simply went through and refined the edges of our selection, removing bits that were bad looking, and softening the edges with the brush tool. Once you have refined the image to where you like it, hit Enter. This will apply the changes, and the background will now be gone!


Step 3: Make a New Background

Now we need to add a new solid background. First we need to add a new layer. To do this, click on the New Layer icon. Double click the layer name and set it to Background. Select the Paint Bucket tool and choose a color for your background (preferably white).  Make sure the new layer is selected, and click in the blank space to fill the layer. 


Step 4: Posterize!

Go back to the cutout layer, duplicate it and hide the original. (This is so we can use it later) Select the new layer. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery. Select Poster Edges. Set the Edge Thickness to 10, the Edge Intensity to 2, and Posterization to 2. Click Okay, and the effect will be applied. 


Step 5: Add an Eye Reflection

Create a New Layer and name it Eye Reflection. Select the Magnifying tool and zoom into the eyes. Grab the Paint Brush tool and set white as the color. Now we are going to draw little reflections in the iris.


This will amplify the cartoon effect! (Tip! If the reflection seems like too much, set the layer opacity to 75%) 

Step 6: Increase the Vibrance

This step is super simple and will help the photo really pop! Just click on the new Adjustments Layer icon, and select Vibrance. This will create a new layer. Make sure it is on top of all the other layers. Now set the vibrance to 75%. Now your photo should look much more colorful!


Step 7: Adding the Color Halftone Effect

Next, copy the saved cutout layer, and move it on top of all previous layers. Name it Color Halftone. Then Select Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone. A popup will appear. Match all values to what's seen in this image:


Then hit enter. This will apply the affect. Lastly, set the blending mode to Soft light.

Final Look.png

Step 8: Combine the Layers

Once you have created all four of these layers, (Posterize, Eye Reflection, Vibrance, and Color Halftone) it's time to combine them. First you will want to duplicate them. To do this, click the top layer, hold Shift, and then click the bottom layer. Right click and select Duplicate Layers. Then right click again and select Merge Layers. This will combine all four layers into one. (Optional: You can rename this to Combined Layer) 

Step 9: Add a Border

The second to last step is to add a border. Select the combined layer, right click, and select Blending Options. Doing this will open a tab. Check the box that says Stroke, and make sure the settings match these:


Then check the box that says Inner Glow, and match it with these settings:


Once you've done that, we're ready to save our finished image!

Step 10: Saving the Image

The image is done! All that’s left is saving it. I’ve had some issues with the border changing sizes, so I’ll walk you through this part. First, right click the final image, and select “Rasterize Layer Style.” This will actually make the blending options permanent. Once this is done, go up to File > Save As. Name the file, and select the file type. Choose JPEG, and hit Save. 


All Done! Now you will be able to give any image a very cool comic book effect! I hope this tutorial was helpful, and I'll see you in the next post!