5 Replies Latest reply on Dec 29, 2009 6:08 AM by Wade_Zimmerman

    How to draw a picture like Ikea Audrey


      Sounds pretty odd this question I am a total newbie to Adobe Illustrator, trying to find my way in it.


      I think a lot of you know the 'painting' of Audrey Hepburn from Ikea, see example: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_j3j6T-u5W-I/SbhC-TQqspI/AAAAAAAACnI/OdhoOIFpr8U/s400/audrey+canv as_ikea+80.00.jpg


      Now I want to create this kind of picture from a real picture I have. How can I do this best and create the same effect as this Ikea image?

      Which tools should I use and what is the best way to determine which part to leave behind and which part to draw just like in this image?


      Appreciate your help!



        • 1. Re: How to draw a picture like Ikea Audrey
          JETalmage Level 6
          I am a total newbie to Adobe Illustrator, trying to find my way in it.


          You need to read the documentation contained in online Help and work through all its procedures yourself to develop at least a working knowledge of the program. There is no shortcut to this. Focus especially on becoming comfortable with using the Pen tool to draw paths and the manipulation of their segments, anchorPoints, and curve handles using the white pointer. There is no shortcut to this.


          ...see example...


          That's just an example of a very common effect: a single-color posterization. Posterization finds a contrast value, based on color and/or luminance (gray tint) and uses that value to trace an "edge" between colors or between grayscale values. That "edge" is then used to mark the separation between a small number of colors, or in the case of a single-color posterization, between black and white.


          In other words, it's just a maximum-contrast "exposure" of the image. In pre-computer days, this was done in a litho darkroom with high-contrast film. High contrast film can't render grays; it is designed to react to a threshold. When the amount of light hitting the film emulsion reaches that threshold, the emulsion turns black. (Actually, it hardens so that it won't be washed away in the developer fluid.) So in the old days, you took a well-exposed continuous-tone image, put it on the bed of the process camera, and exposed a piece of high-contrast litho film, using the exposure settings to control the threshold.


          Nowadays, the same principle is emulated in raster programs (like Photoshop) by maximizing the contrast and using the midtone slider (the so-called gamma setting) to control the threshold. Photoshop (and other programs like it) provide several interfaces that can be used to do that. In Photoshop, you can use the Levels dialog, or the Curves dialog, or even a Posterize filter designed to automate the process, and let you choose the number of colors.


          Much the same principle is emulated in vector programs (like Illustrator) by the behavior of the auto-tracing feature, which functions by trying to find "edges" between colors along which to draw paths. (Therefore, an auto-trace feature's basis is posterization. In fact, you can do much the same thing as "auto tracing" in Photoshop by applying a posterize filter, followed by a make paths command.)




          Now I want to create this kind of picture from a real picture I have.


          Garbage-in; garbage-out very much applies, as it always does and always has when trying to rely upon a purely automated process to achieve satisfactorily pleasing results. Rare is the photograph that is going to yield the desired clean and easy-to-interpret results. If you use posterization (whether in a raster program or in a vector program), it is only a beginning point--a rough guide--after which aesthetic discernment and judgement and stylistic intent is used to improve the results. Again there is no shortcut for this. Here's why:


          Assuming a very-well exposed image, an automated posterization routine can find the edges between the two sides of a specified threshold. That's just math. But therein lies a basic problem: The automated routine knows NOTHING about the meanings of shapes to the human mind. It doesn't know eyeball from treetrunk. The automated routine knows NOTHING about the interest of shapes to the viewer. It doesn't know wrinkle-in-suit from highlight-in-hair.


          The posterization routine uses the SAME thresholds throughout the image. Human recognition and clarity (both parts of pleasing results) usually depends upon DIFFERENT thresholds for different parts of the image. That is, threshold settings that work well to reveal a pleasing amount of light/dark detail in a black dress may not work well at all to reveal understandable shapes in the region of the model's eyes or lips or hair.


          Further, a large part of the success of a pleasing posterization has to do with shape economy and elegance. The core intention is usually to simplify; to make a complex subject instantly recognizable by using a minimum number of shapes carefully designed to convey the essence of the recognizable characteristics. So even in the rare occasions that the automated results are decent, there is much room for refinement of the shapes themselves--removing the unnecessary, accentuating the important.


          How can I do this best and create the same effect as this Ikea image?


          Remember, you said "best." So don't look for instant, one-click, automated solutions. Learn to use the drawing tools to accurately render your artwork. There is no shortcut to this.


          Which tools should I use...


          Start with a GOOD photo. One with full dynamic range, and one which already has the darks and lights where you want them. In Photoshop, heighten the contrast and experiment with the gamma. Experiment with intentionally blurring the image and then posterizing it. (This will simplify the shapes, and can help you identify their recognizable 'essence".) If using Illustrator's auto-trace feature (LiveTrace), start with the black-and-white presets and experiment with the settings. The control will be more crude in Illustrator than in Photoshop.


          As explained above, consider the results just the BEGINNING point--a rough guide. You may find it necessary to make several posterizations to get decent BEGINNING results from different areas of the photo.


          In fact, when I'm doing this kind of image (and I've done alot of them), If I use automated posterization at all, I use it only as a suggestion reference (not even a beginning of the final paths). I draw the actual paths manually over the scanned photo. This "automatically" causes me to use human shape-recognition, interest, and importance; and it results in cleaner, more elegant shapes with greater ease than a bunch of tedious cleaning-up of auto-traced paths.


          ...and what is the best way to determine which part to leave behind and which part to draw...


          Use your artistic judgement to draw the final shapes. As you work, constantly ask yourself questions like these:


          • Is this shape instantly recognizable?
          • Does this shape inform, or does it just clutter and confuse?
          • Is this shape even necessary?


          When you start feeling like you're nearing satisfactory results:


          • Are the paths stylistically uniform?
          • Do they convey a uniform amount of detail?
          • Do the shapes work together or clash in terms of motion and "texture"?


          And finally:


          • Would an indifferent viewer instantly recognize what this is?
          • Are there any elements which confuse and thereby interfere with recognition?



          Does this capture the mood, motion, and essence of what I am trying to depict?

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: How to draw a picture like Ikea Audrey
            Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

            Or use the shortcuts in either Photoshop or Illustrator. This was what was once none as an automatic or in this particular case a Kodalith because of the film used to create it from a regular photographic print and a copy camera.


            In Photoshop convert to grayscale and then use the a high contrast Curve adjustment like such


            Screen shot 2009-12-28 at 9.54.21 AM.png


            Screen shot 2009-12-28 at 9.54.00 AM.png


            In Illustrator this same adjustment can be made with the Phantasm or you can Live Trace it


            Checking the ignore white option in the Live Trace Options as such (if you play with the settings you can get good at this and get a very clean at.


            You have to expand the live trace in order to edit the live trace..


            You can do this with the pen tool but it would be wise to use the photoshop adjust or live trace first.


            Here is the live trace


            Screen shot 2009-12-28 at 10.00.05 AM.png


            Screen shot 2009-12-28 at 10.00.16 AM.png

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: How to draw a picture like Ikea Audrey
              marced4 Level 1

              I asked for a little help, this is... amazing guys, thanks!!


              I see your point Jet, I think one of the important things is that you can use tools and features to perform it automatically, but as a human you can decide what is relevant and what is not and what creates still a definable image, and a computer can´t do that based on greyscale, contrast etc.


              On the other hand, like you and Wade say there are some good tools that get´s you going and make a good start. I still have to find my way though in Illustrator / Photoshop, to correct and make it better than the result from automatic tooling. (i think the Pareto principle applies here again)


              I am going to try to learn and get mysefl acquainted with the tools you mentioned and make my way into it.


              It might be possible I will need some help though, I know where to find the experts now! Do you also do it like a request, so I give you a picture and you create the pic for specific reward (sorry for the english, I am Dutch ).. It might be interesting for me, because I might need some logo's done too.


              Other question, do you think a drawing tablet is necessary to do these things and work with Illustrator well?


              Again, thanks a lot for your help and extensive answers!




              • 4. Re: How to draw a picture like Ikea Audrey
                JETalmage Level 6

                Other question, do you think a drawing tablet is necessary to do these things and work with Illustrator well?

                No. Especially not for this kind of thing.



                • 5. Re: How to draw a picture like Ikea Audrey
                  Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                  I disagree especially with this type of thing.


                  You will find that there are two types of approaches here and I prefer a tablet and a large one and users that use a tablet will more than likely tell you the same thing.


                  I would say it depends on your experience and how you go about doing things.


                  With the tablet you map the foot print that is the tablets live surface is the screen and where on that surface has a corresponding point on the screen. so it is simpler to find a point on the drawing, document or art you just intuitive point to the spot and there you are you do not have to navigate to it as with a mouse.


                  So say the cursor is current in the lower right of the screen and you want to work on a point at the upper left, then you just just place you hand and stylist at the upper left and you and the cursor are there without dragging the mouse or the stylist.


                  You actually have to work with it a while to appreciate it, but it takes just a short time time like ten minutes to get use to it.


                  I noticed that PC people are less likely to use them or so it seems that way.


                  I had clients over here to work on projects and they look at the tablet with disdain even though they have never used it. And a large one cost over $400. I use to use a medium one but but find the large one more comfortable for doing free had drawings and retouching images. Especially in Lightroom.