How To: Create a Pop Art Inspired Vector Self Portrait

We recently asked Steve Reaves, the director of the Graphic Design program at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, to provide us with some inspirational articles related to design. His list included illustrations, posters, tutorials, photography, and more. Today, rather than providing us with links, Steve has created a fun, informative, and easy-to-follow tutorial that will teach you how to create a pop art inspired vector self portrait using Adobe Illustrator CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Scroll down to get started creating your own vector self portrait. When you are finished, we invite you share your portrait with us by leaving a comment below. Have fun!

What You Will Be Creating

Vector Self Portrait Tutoria

Tutorial Details

Programs Used: Adobe Illustrator CS6, Adobe Photoshop CS6

Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Topics Covered: Hue/Saturation Manipulation, Image Tracing

Estimated Completion Time: 30 minutes

Step 1

Create a new 8.5 ” x 11” document in Adobe Photoshop CS6, and import a picture of yourself with a neutral, or white background for easy separation.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 1

Step 2

Using the Hue/Saturation palette, drag the “Saturation” slider to the left until your picture is black and white.

Quick Tip: The “Hue/Saturation” palette can be found in the top toolbar by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 2

Step 3

Feel free to adjust the photo’s levels to make the black and whites more dominate. Save your Black and White photo as a “JPEG,” in order to place in Adobe Illustrator CS5 or Adobe Illustrator CS6.

Quick Tip: The “Levels” palette can be found in the top toolbar by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Levels.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 3

Step 4

Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. We recommend 8 1/2 ” x 11” “Letter” in portrait mode.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 4

Step 5

Open the JPEG photo of yourself in Adobe Illustrator CS6. This can be done by going to File -> Open, then dragging and dropping your photo into the document. Alternatively, you can use the File -> Place option.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 5

Step 6

Open the “Image Trace” window. To do this, click on “Window” in the top toolbar and then select “Image Trace”.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 6

Step 7

Select the photo and “image trace” using the settings found below.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 7

Step 8

Next, you’ll next need to “Expand” the selection so that you have points you can edit. To do this, click on “Object” on the top menu bar and then select “Expand”. Your photo should now have anchor points like the example below.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 8

Step 9

Once you’ve expanded the photo, you need to ungroup the shapes you have just created. To do this, click “Object” on the top menu bar and then select “Ungroup”. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G for Mac or Control + G for Windows. Please note that you will need to complete this step twice in order to fully ungroup the shapes. You should now be able to select individual shapes like the example below.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 9

Step 10

Now comes the fun part! Use the selection tool to select a shape, and then use the color palette to apply some color. Colorizing your portrait is completely up to you so experiment with different color swatches, patterns, and gradients. Have fun with it.

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Step 10

Final Result

Vector Self Portrait Tutorial Final Result

Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoyed this Graphic Design Tutorial.

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Author: James Peacock

James Peacock is a Digital Marketing Specialist at FIDM in Los Angeles, California. He received his A.A. in Graphic Design from FIDM and was hired as Social Media Assistant in 2013 by his alma mater in order to help grow the institution’s social media marketing efforts. James now combines two of his passions, telling stories and solving problems by managing data-driven marketing campaigns across multiple channels that ultimately result in a positive return on investment.

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  • angie

    thank you so much for this tutorial. It was very helpful :)

  • FIDM Digital Arts

    Thanks for reading, Angie!

  • Higgi

    Many thanks for sharing… very easy to follow..

  • FIDM Digital Arts

    You’re welcome! We would love to see what you come up with. Thanks for reading, Higgi!

  • Aaron

    Awesome, thank you!

  • Kier Ambrocio

    have you ever had a youtube channel / youtube videos?

    so I can watch it clearly and easy to follow. thanks a lot

  • Clipping Firm

    Really amazing tutorial, help my job. thanks a lot.

  • Ahshanul

    Wow, nice technique. thanks a lot, keep up your post :)

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