Shooting Challenge: Inked

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Inked

Photography used to just create photos. But through post processing (like Photoshop and Illustrator), your photos can become incredible, inky drawings that you might never create by hand. For this week's Shooting Challenge, you'll draw with photos.

The Challenge

Take a photo and convert it to inked/line art. It can be in color or black and white. The goal is, make it look, not like a photo, but as if it were created by hand.


The Technique

In the interest of fairness, I should mention that I've only done this in Illustrator using the powerful and surprisingly classy pen and ink filters. You take a photo and Illustrator converts it to vector-based art (which is one way of creating those Charles Schwab commercials from a few years back). That's honestly the easiest way, as the premade filters can be tweaked within a few moments (and you'll quickly figure out, if you want to create a black and white comic book effect, be sure to really focus on the lighting of your original shot).

But you can also use Photoshop, or similar programs, to trace a figure quasi by hand if you have the skills and the patience. Here's a great tutorial to using that technique, and here are a bunch more, some of which start with photos as source material.

Whatever technique you choose, own it and don't be afraid to experiment. Human figures, especially, translate really well to this post processing technique.


The Example

Our lead "shot" of Scarlett Johansson is by Melissa Evans, who shares her technique in the tutorial we mentioned above. This image is essentially traced from a photo, creating a strange, very cool amalgamation of drawing and photography.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, May 7th at 10AM Eastern to with "Inked" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameInked.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameInkedWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.


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quick tip... If Illustrator is scary but you do have PS, you can play with the smart blur filter on "edge only" mode to get a very quick and dirty starting point.

All that was done to the racoon girl was "filter -> smart blur -> radius(40), threshold(50), quality(high), mode(edge only) -> then invert color" ... rough outline in 10 seconds.