Illustration • How-To Turn Any Photo into Art

Try it yourself.

Illustration • How-To Turn Any Photo into Art

Try it yourself.

A photo is just the start. With imagination—and the right tools—you can turn any image into art that expresses your own vision.

We gave graphic artist Erica Larson a stock image and no instructions. Here’s what happened next..

“I hadn’t done any organic illustration in the few years before this project, as I was focused on straight-ahead graphic design work. So I had no idea where I was going with this,” she admits. But as a designer who loves analog techniques like print-making, Erica started work carving away at the image in Adobe Photoshop.

“There’s a printmaking technique called reduction block printing where every color layer is made with the same block. I used this mindset when I was erasing away from each captured layer. I was also thinking of screen printing as I was working with color, imagining I was working with transparent inks and letting overlapping shapes create new ones.”

Erica Larson's Photoshop Tutorial

The color palette, Erica says, was “completely accidental.” It came together only as she began to overlap the layers. “For example, I detest the color purple but it showed up unexpectedly and worked perfectly to give this flat image just a little bit of depth.”

“This is a totally new style for me,” says Erica. “Mostly born from the fact that I love vectors, and pixels give me anxiety because they don’t feel flexible to me. I approached Photoshop as if it were Illustrator, using lots of vector shapes and color fills while taking advantage of how easily you can manipulate shapes from Adobe Capture in this app.”

The result is a piece that embraces the happy accidents that occur in print-making, like mis-registration, unexpected color overlays, and the grit of physical material.

You can try it yourself on the original image. Or you could use any image—even a selfie.


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