Want to know the coolest way you can jazz up any photo? Create a low poly effect! By simply piecing polygonal shapes together, you can make beautiful portraits and more! Although this can be done in Illustrator, today you’ll learn how to create this low poly effect in Photoshop. Let’s begin!
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended
Completion Time: 4 hours
Images Used For This Tutorial
Fashion art studio photo of beautiful elegant futuristic lady: 40572217 © George Mayer
Setup the Image
Open up an image in Photoshop. If you’re a beginner, use a symmetrical portrait so that it’s much easier to work with. Set the Resolution to 150 dpi so that you’re working with a higher quality resolution. Duplicate the image so that you can work on just the copy for the low poly effect. Go to View > Show > Grid to display the grid. Also make sure the View > Snap To > Grid is checked. This will help keep the shapes close to each other without gaps.
Create the Polygonal Shapes
Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L). Make sure the Anti-Alias option is unchecked in the top toolbar because it will help keep your edges solid. Then create a triangle shape.
Now go to Filter > Blur > Blur Average. This will help the triangle to be filled with a solid color in the color range of the area you selected. To save time creating more triangles and shapes, you can avoid manually selecting the Blur Average by hitting Control-F after you create the shape with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L). This will automatically apply the last filter to the selection.
Continue this technique all across the forehead and face. If you’re uncomfortable with the grid or feel like it’s blocking your view, simply hide it.
The lighting in this image makes a lot of the surfaces seem smooth, so it’s okay if you have areas that blend in together. As you work your way down the face to the rest of the body, keep in mind the structure of the anatomy when creating your triangular and polygonal shapes.
Although it’s a simple process, you’ll have to make dozens of shapes to complete your portrait so this effect will take quite a bit of time to finish.
When you’re finished, your image should look like this.
Intensify the Colors
Now that the portrait has been covered in shapes we can add a background. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the white background and hit Delete to get rid of it. After, fill a new layer behind the woman with a light gray color (#dddfe1).
Select the Gradient Tool (G) and set it to the option Foreground Color to Transparent. The background colors are inspired by the light that’s hitting the model, so use a dark grayish blue color (#a4a4ad) to create a linear gradient moving upwards. On the same layer, use white to add a little more brightness behind her by applying another linear gradient from the top moving downwards.
Let’s brighten up the model! To do this, select the polygonal portrait layer and right-click it to go to Blending Options. Place a checkmark next to Gradient Overlay and apply the Copper Preset that’s available in Photoshop.
Bring down the Opacity of the Gradient Overlay to 25%, set the Scale to 150%, and set the Blend Mode to Color Dodge.
And you’re done! With this last step you’ve completed this low poly effect!
I hope you’ve enjoyed creating a wonderfully unique portrait out of polygonal shapes. Try this effect on your pictures and have fun making your own unique creations!