Rotoscope-Style Photos

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to create rotoscope-style photos in Photoshop. Rotoscoping is the process of painting over live-action films, frame-by-frame, to create animation. We won’t be creating a full animated sequence here, but we’ll be giving photos a rotoscope effect. Here’s the effect we’ll be creating:

Rotoscope-Style Photos

To create a rotoscope-style photo, you’ll need:

  • Any recent version of Photoshop

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop.

Rotoscope-Style Photos Original

Although we can apply the effect on the entire image, I’ll be applying it only on the main subject of the image. To do so, I will select the two people in my photo using the Pen Tool. I have not selected whatever the guy is holding in his hand since I don’t want to apply the effect on it.

Rotoscope-Style Photos Selection

Press Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate the selection.

Rotoscope-Style Photos Duplicate

Step 2

Now, go to Filter > Filter Gallery, choose Poster Edges from the Artistic folder and use the settings shown below. You can experiment with the settings to see what works for your picture.

Rotoscope-Style Photos Poster Edges

Rotoscope-Style Photos Poster Edges Result

Step 3

We will now add a black stroke around the main subject to enhance the effect. To do so, select Layer 1 and click on the Layer Styles option.

Rotoscope-Style Photos Layer Styles

Select Stroke from the list that appears and change the color of the stroke to black by clicking on the color swatch and selecting black in the Color Picker.

Rotoscope-Style Photos Color Swatch

Rotoscope-Style Photos Color Picker

After changing the color, use the settings shown below to apply the stroke.

Rotoscope Effect Stroke

Rotoscope Effect Stroke Result

Next, open the Drop Shadow option in the Layer Style dialog box and use the settings shown below.

Rotoscope Effect Drop Shadow

Rotoscope Effect Drop Shadow Result

Step 4

If needed, remove any unwanted shadows. For instance, in my image, the drop shadow is extending over the thing the guy is holding in his hand. Before cleaning it, we have to covert the layer style into a normal layer by going to Layer > Layer Style > Create Layers.

Rotoscope Effect Layer Styles Layers

Now, select the drop shadow layer, grab the Eraser Tool and erase any unwanted shadows.

Rotoscope Photos Effect Eraser

And we’re done! The rotoscope-style photos tutorial is complete!

Rotoscope-Style Photos

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