Photoshop Tutorial: How to Create Vexel Art from a Photo

Photoshop Tutorial: How to Create Vexel Art from a Photo

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV.
I’m going to show you how to transform a photo into vexel artwork. Vexel art is a raster-based
image that imitates the visual appearance of vector graphics, which have sharp-edged
lines and areas of flat color or smooth gradient fills. The word itself is derived from a combination
of “vector” and “pixel.” There’s no one defined way to create a vexel and its look can vary
from just 2-color outlines to pseudo-realism. Open a photo you’d like to use. I downloaded
this one from To protect the original photo, it’s always a good idea
to make a copy of it. Press Ctrl + J on Windows or Cmd + J on a Mac. Next, we need to cut
the subject from its background and place it onto its own layer. To do this, we first
have to make a selection around the subject. There are many ways to make selections, so
choose the method that works best for your particular image. Since this subject is on
a white background, I normally would use the Magic Wand Tool or Color Range, but if your
subject isn’t on a white background, we’ll use the Pencil Tool for this example. Keep the Hardness 100% and choose a small pixel size. Even though the size here is 10 pixels, keep in mind,
this amount will look smaller or larger on your image depending on the size and resolution
of your photo. Make sure your foreground and background colors are black and white, respectively.
If they aren’t, press “D” on your keyboard. Click the quickmask icon, so we can draw in
a quickmask. Draw around your subject. Drawing around the hair doesn’t have to be perfect,
since ultimately, your image won’t have soft edges. When you’ve drawn around the entire
subject, fill it in by opening your Paint Bucket Tool and left-clicking on your subject.
Press “Q” to make the quickmask into a selection and invert the selection by pressing Ctrl
or Cmd + Shift + I. Press Ctrl or Cmd + J to cut your subject from its background and copy it to its own layer. Click the thumbnail of the middle layer to make it active. We’re
going to replace this layer with a solid color. Click the foreground color and pick a color
that compliments your subject. I’ll click the lip to pick up its color and click OK.
Notice, the foreground is now the color you picked. To fill the layer with your foreground
color, press Alt or Option + Delete. Next, we’ll add a radial pattern on top of the color. Click the Custom Shape Tool and open the shape thumbnails. Click the small gear icon to open
your list of shape presets. Click Symbols and when you see this warning, click OK to
see just the Symbols in the thumbnail window. Scroll down and click this icon, which is
called, “Registration Target 2”. Click the gear icon at the top, tick “Defined Proportions”
and check “From Center”. Make sure there’s no Stroke. The icon for it is a red, diagonal line. Click the color box and click the Color Picker icon. Left-click on a darker version
of the color you picked earlier and click OK. Zoom out a little by pressing Ctrl or
Cmd and the minus key. Go to the middle of your document and drag out the shape past the corners. To hide the paths, press Ctrl or Cmd + H. To fit the document back onto
your screen, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. Make the top layer active and rename it, “poster edges”. Go to Filter and Filter Gallery. Open the Artistic folder and click Poster Edges. Set all the attributes to zero and click OK. Make a copy of the layer and rename it, “Smart blur- edges only”. Go to Filter, Blur and Smart Blur. Make the Quality, “High” and the Mode, ” Edges
Only”. The Edges Only mode find the edges of color transitions where significant contrasts
occur and creates an image of it of white lines on a black background. Drag
the image to an area in the window where you can see the face. Drag the Radius and Threshold
to amounts that give just enough line detail. For this image, I’ll set the Radius at 2 and
the Threshold at 37. Press “D” to revert your foreground & background colors to black and white and open your Paint Bucket Tool. Make sure “Contiguous” is unchecked. If it is, unchecked it. I ‘ll explain why in a moment. Left-click outside your figure. Notice all the areas surrounding the figure is filled in. I’ll press Ctrl or Cmd + Z to undo it. If “Contiguous”
is checked, the Paint Bucket Tool will only fill in the areas that are connected. In this
example, this area didn’t fill in because the figure is disconnecting it. I’ll undo
it. As before, uncheck “Contiguous” and left-click outside the figure. Open the Channels panel.
If you don’t see it, go to Window and Channels. Ctrl-click or Cmd-click on the thumbnail next
to RGB to make a selection of the white outline. Open back the Layers panel and click off the
eyeball of the top layer to hide it. Make a new layer above it by pressing Ctrl or Cmd
+ Shift + N. This window will appear. Name the layer, “outlines” and then, click OK or
press Enter or Return. Press Alt or Option + Delete to fill the selection with black, which is the foreground color. Then, deselect it by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + D. Double-click
the thumbnail of the “outlines” layer to open its Layer Styles window. Click “Gradient Overlay”.
I’ll leave it on Linear with an angle of 90 degrees, however, you can choose another Style
if you like. Click the Gradient bar and click a gradient preset you like. I’m choosing “Spectrum”.
Then, click OK on both windows. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!

35 thoughts on “Photoshop Tutorial: How to Create Vexel Art from a Photo

  1. And this is why Blue Lightning TV is my "go to" source for all matters pertaining to Photoshop Tutorials. Again, another excellent lesson. Thank you!!

  2. Hey Marty! 🙂 I've always loved all your tutorials. In fact I have done all of them. Thanks for teaching us this things. I look forward in seeing more of your tutorials! Can you also do some tutorials in Adobe After Effects? Please? Thanks! 😀

  3. Hey Marty! 🙂 I've always loved all your tutorials. In fact I have done all of them. Thanks for teaching us this things. I look forward in seeing more of your tutorials! Can you also do some tutorials in Adobe After Effects? Please? Thanks! 😀

  4. Gradient overlay effect doesn't show up on my pictures. I don't know where I messed up. I followed your steps. Any ideas?

  5. Thank You Your The Best !!!!!!!!!
    All Vexel art  On Youtube Didnt Work for me ,                                                                                                                   But Your video Is just What I was Looking FOR  
    THANK YOU verY verY mucH aND a HApPY NEW YEAR

  6. I think i must be stupid, i tried to do it  all night last night n almost all day today. but still i dont get it. :'(
    i really want to use this for my FMP 🙁

  7. its not letting me fill the layer…. like its doing it in multiple times instead of just filling it in. I don't understand why.

  8. Thanks for this.

    I really like how you explain everything, unlike other channels where they play the video on a really high speed and then put a background music into it to make it look and sound cool.

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