How to Vector a Human Face in Photoshop

Written by darrin koltow
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A vector is a graphic you can scale without losing image quality, in contrast to raster graphics, which is what Photoshop's "Paintbrush" tool creates. Therefore, if you create a face drawing with vectors, you can scale the face to any size you need without degrading the image. Plus, you can reshape and reuse the face vector over and over for as many pictures as you need. This is also useful for drawing many face images on a single picture. As you search Photoshop documentation for detailed guidance on vectors, note that Adobe refers to vectors as "Paths."

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Click the "File" menu and then the "Open" command. Navigate to a photo of a face on your PC, and then click the photo to select it. Click "Open" to load the photo into Photoshop.

  2. 2

    Click the page icon at the bottom of the "Layers" window to make a new layer, and then select the tool palette icon shaped like a nib pen to run the "Pen" tool, which creates vectors.

  3. 3

    Click on the face's outline, and then drag a short distance and click another point on the outline. Repeat the process of dragging a short distance and than clicking another outline point to surround the complete outline with a path.

  4. 4

    Select the paintbrush icon on the tool palette to run the "Paintbrush" tool, and then choose the upper colour swatch at the bottom of the tool palette. Click black from the palette that appears, and then "OK" to close the palette

  5. 5

    Press the "[" key repeatedly to make the size of the brush outline attached to the mouse cursor smaller, if that outline is too large compared to the face. Press "]" to size the brush outline larger if it's too small.

  6. 6

    Right-click the path and choose "Stroke path," and then click "Paintbrush" from the small dialogue box that appears. Photoshop will paint the path you traced over the face, using the paintbrush settings you specified in steps 4 and 5.

  7. 7

    Click the page icon at the bottom of the "Paths" window to create a new path. Use the instructions from steps 3 through 6 to create and stroke paths for the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hairline, and other prominent features of the face. For example, if the face shows a cleft chin, create a path for that feature.

  8. 8

    Click the item in the "Layers" window containing the thumbnail image that shows the face photo you loaded. Drag this item to the trash icon at the bottom of the "Layers" window. This deletes the face photo so you can see just your paths.

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