How to create an exciting, artificial-looking photo

PHollisPhotos asked the Photo Editing forum how to give a sports photo a certain look, like an illustration with a black-and-white background.

You can do this with most good photo editors, although the exact look will depend on the filters and effects available, and your own choices. The instructions below are for two consumer-oriented editors--Photoshop Elements (PE), which is my personal favorite, and Photo Pos Pro (Pos), which is free.

But be careful if you install either of these. If you don't pay attention, both may try to install additional programs you may not want.

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To get started, load your original photo into your editor, crop it as you see fit, and save the image to the editor's default format. For PE, save it as a .psd file. For Pos, .fpos.

You use filters or effects to give the photo that artificial look. In Photoshop, select Filter>Artistic and pick any option. The resulting dialog box helps you choose. I went with Film Grain.

Pos doesn't offer quite as many options. But try Filters>Morphing Filters. For the Filter Type, select Minimum Filter, then click the Preview button to change the actual image. Adjust the options until you're satisfied, repeatedly clicking Preview as needed.

Another option would be to leave this filtering for later, so you can use different filters on different layers.

And speaking of layers, you must now create two of them:

In Photoshop Elements, select Layer>Duplicate Layer; name the layer b&w. Then repeat the process, this time naming the new layer foreground. If you don't see the layers in a panel on the right, click the Layers icon in the lower-right corner.

In Pos Pro, select Layers & Objects>Clone Layer. Right-click the new layer in the Layers Property box and select Layer Info. Name the layer b&w.  Repeat for a second duplicate, naming this one foreground.

Next, convert the middle layer to black and white. Click that layer in the box or panel. Then, in PE, select Enhance>Convert to Black and White. In Pos, select  Colors>GrayScale (Black & White Photograph).

Don't be upset if the picture is still in color. Remember that you only changed the middle layer, but all you can see is the foreground layer.

Let's change that.

Now you have to select and delete the foreground layer's background. This is by far the hardest part of the job.

This is also where Photoshop Elements proves its worth. I've yet to find a free editor with selection tools anywhere near as good as PE's.

Both editors provide multiple selection tools, and I suggest you take the time to learn them and decide what you like. For PE 12 (the current version), I recommend the Quick Selection tool. For older versions, the Magic Extractor. For Pos, the Custom Selection tool.

I also suggest you first select the foreground--what you want to keep. Then invert the selection (you'll find that on the Select or Selection menu) and press Delete.

Now you should have a color foreground and a black and white background, all looking a bit like an illustration. Examine your work for mistakes. If you  see color where there should be black and white, click the foreground layer and carefully delete the offending bit. If you see black and white where you should see color, click the b&w layer and carefully delete from there. Then you'll see why we kept an extra layer below.

Finally, save the image as a .jpg so anyone can view it.

Read the original forum discussion.

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