Photoshop: How to Create a Retro, 8-Bit Pixel Portrait from a Photo

Photoshop: How to Create a Retro, 8-Bit Pixel Portrait from a Photo

August 15, 2019 100 By Peter Engel


Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. I’m going to show you how to create a fun,
retro, 8-bit pixel art portrait from a photo. Open a photo of someone or something that
you’d like to use for this project. I downloaded this one from Shutterstock. Before we begin, I want to mention that I’ll
be moving a bit faster for more advanced users. The first step is to re-size it, to get the results we want. Open your Crop Tool. In the Width and Height fields, type in 500 pixels each and for its Resolution, type in 50 pixels per inch. Drag the crop’s bounding box, so your subject
is centered and sized to your liking. Then, press Enter or Return. To fit it back onto your canvas, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. For this example, I’d like to crop the bottom
of my subject into a circular shape. If you’d like to do the same for your subject,
open your Elliptical Marquee Tool, go near a corner and press and hold the Shift key
as you drag a circular selection over it. We’ll cut out our subject inside the selection
by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + J. Click the eyeball icon next to the bottom layer to hide it. Next, we’ll delete the rest of the background
behind our subject. There are many ways to do this and your method
should depend on the characteristics of your photo. For this example, since the background is
pure white, I’ll use my Magic Wand Tool. I’ll make the Tolerance 10 and make sure “Contiguous” is checked. “Contiguous” will ensure that only the white
area outside my subject will be selected. I’ll click anywhere on the white area to make
a selection of it. After you make your selection, press the “Delete”
key on your keyboard to delete the background. To deselect it, press Ctrl or Cmd + D. To
check the brightness and contrast of your subject, open your Levels window by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + L. If the histogram starts to rise somewhere other then the ends, drag the Input Levels to the points where the histogram starts to rise. In this example, only the Input Highlight
Level needed to be slid over. Click the “fx” icon and click “Stroke”. The color is black, the Size is 5 pixels and
the Position is “Outside”. Then, click OK or press Enter or Return. We’ll convert our image into a Smart Object, so we can add filters and additional adjustments to it non-destructively. To do this, click the icon at the upper, right of the Layers panel and click “Convert to Smart Object”. Go to Filter, Pixelate and Mosaic. Make the Cell Size: 10 square. Go to Image, Adjustments and “Shadows/Highlights”. Check “Show More Options”. Make the Shadow Amount: 20, the Tone: 60 and
the Radius: 30. We’ll adjust the Levels again by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + L. I’ll make the Input Midtones: point 75 and the Input Highlights: 223, however, feel free to adjust these amounts. Next, we’ll add black and white squares to accentuate
certain features of our character. I’ll show you 2 ways of doing it. First, I’ll show how to do it if you’re using
a version earlier than CC. Then, I’ll show how to do it using CC or later,
which has a precise method. If you’re using a version earlier than CC,
create a new document by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + N or go to File and New. Make the Width and the Height 10 pixels each
and the Resolution, 50 pixels per inch. The color is black. Then, click “Create” or “Open”. To see it onto your canvas at its maximum
size, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. Go to Edit and “Define Brush Preset”. When this window appears, just click OK. Open back your pixel art document. Irrespective of the version you’re using,
let’s remove the lightest squares along the edge of your character. Go to Select and “Color Range”. Choose “Highlights”. Make the Fuzziness: 0% and the Range: 1. Click the Layer mask icon to a make a layer
mask of the selection next to the active layer. We’ll make a new layer below the active layer,
by Ctrl-clicking or Cmd-clicking the New Layer icon. We’ll use this layer as the background. For now, let’s fill it with white and since white is our background color, press Ctrl or Cmd + Delete. Click the top layer to make it active and
make a new layer above it. For versions earlier than CC, open your Pencil
Tool and Pencil Picker. The last thumbnail is the preset we saved earlier. Click it to make it active and make sure its
Opacity is 100%. For this example, I’ll add black squares to
my subject’s mustachio and beard, however, this first method requires great care in aligning
it directly over the square under it. If it’s not aligned exactly, press Ctrl or
Cmd + z to undo the last step and try again. To make your brush white, press “x” on your keyboard to invert your foreground and background colors. For those who are using CC or later, go to
View and “New Guide Layout”. In the Columns and Rows, type in 50 pixels
each and keep everything else unfilled and unchecked. If you don’t see the guidelines, press Ctrl or Cmd + H. Notice our guidelines perfectly align with the character’s squares. Open your “Rectangular Marquee Tool” and make
sure the “Add to Selection” icon is active. This adds additional selections to our image
as we make them. Go to View and make sure “Snap” is checked,
a well as, “”Guides”. This will ensure that the selections we add,
will snap to the grid. After you’ve made a cluster of selections,
fill it with black and deselect it. If you want to see your character without
the guidelines, press Ctrl or Cmd + H. To make them visible again, repeat the same keystrokes. To replace the white background with another color, make the background active. Click the foreground color and pick a different color. Then, fill it with that color. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!