Creating a Comic Book from photos

This blog is about creating a comic book effect from photos taken at a Brighton elopement. Alex and Chris wanted to see the graffitti after the ceremony, which gave us a unique and super cool photography session. This blog goes into the detail of creating the effect using Affinity Photo & Affinity Designer software with links to resources.

I keep a bunch of mock-ups and templates ready to go, but didn’t have anything for a comic. After a bit of searching the one that suited me best was this download from medialoot. It has a great selection of ready-to-go templates, and includes the boxes with the balloons as separate elements. I used Affinity Designer to arrange the boxes and balloons to my liking.

Behind the Scenes shot

Behind The Scenes shot in Brighton

I choose this image as I liked them looking out of frame. After having tried to create the cartoon a couple of times, I brightened teeth and eyes in the original and smoothed out some of the colours using frequency separation, as it gave an end result that looked more like an illustration.

These steps create the ‘drawn edges’ and saturated colours of the comic. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect at each stage, everything can be tweaked later.

  • Duplicate the image layer and from the top menu choose Filters > Detect > Detect Edges
  • Add a Black and White adjustment layer, play with the colour sliders to bring out the lines and remove some ‘noise’
  • Change the blend mode of the pixel layer to ‘subtract’ and add a Levels Adjustment layer. Moving the black level up to somewhere between 2-10% removes edge detail. If the effect is still too strong, play with the opacity of the pixel layer. I didn’t find any benefit from playing with the other sliders, but it may depend on the image or what you’re trying to achieve.
  • There are many approaches to boosting the colour to achieve a more illustrated effect. I went with separating the image into RGBW channels, removing the monochrome and using an Add blend mode on the RGB to get a super charged saturation boost. There’s more experimenting to be done here, the Exclusion blend mode gives a desaturated illustrated effect for example, and the RGB layers could have their own adjustments applied. There’s an excellent tutorial provided by the Inaffinity channel on you tube; it gets quite technical, but Dave has also provided a set of macros that do it all for you. He has a whole set of helpful and powerful macros that are worth checking out, if only to see what Affinity Photo is capable of! The one used here is ‘Dave’s colour models’.
  • Finally, I applied a Brightness and White Balance Adjustment. Once I had the final result, I returned to the previous adjustment layers and played with sliders and layer opacity until I had the result I wanted.

I applied the same process to the other photos I’d chosen for the comic strip and then used Designer to put them into the mock up.

The title uses the font Nasty Regular, a font created by Eduardo Recife – his fonts are a favourite of mine! The balloon text font is Air America (by sajatypeworks.com).

There are a lot of ways to create a graphic effect from photos, and many software packages have inbuilt filter effects that will do it for you, though obviously without the same control as doing it yourself. Affinity photo doesn’t yet have any plugins like this (that I know of), but it has a great deal of power and low-level tools. There are so many options and approaches to this, I’m certain these techniques can be improved upon with more play – as if I needed an excuse!

Brighton Elopment poster