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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions
Design

How to Create a GTA Photo Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

The effect shown above is the one I will show you how to create in this tutorial. If you would like to create the even more advanced grand theft auto photo effects shown below and using just a single click, then check out my Grand Theft Photoshop Action.

Action final results

What You'll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following photo:


1. Let's Get Started

Step 1

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 1500–3500 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Checking image size and mode

Step 2

Now we are going to crop the image to remove some of the space above the subject. Choose the Crop Tool (C), and transform the Crop Box as shown below:

Cropping image

2. How to Create the GTA Art Style

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create a GTA art style from our photo. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Temp 1.

Creating a new layer

Step 2

Now press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights, and set Shadows to 10% and Highlights to 2% as shown below:

Adjusting shadows and highlights

Step 3

Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Temp 2.

Creating a new layer

Step 4

Now press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen. Then press Control-F on your keyboard to repeat this filter.

Adding sharpen filter

Step 5

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light, and then go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 1.5 px as shown below:

Adding high pass filter

Step 6

Now Control-click on the Temp 1 layer to get both layers selected at the same time and press Control-E on your keyboard to merge these two layers into one layer.

Merging layers

Step 7

Go to Filter > Stylize > Diffuse and set the Mode to Anisotropic.

Adding diffuse filter

Step 8

Now go to Edit > Transform > Rotate 90° Clockwise to rotate this layer 90° clockwise, and then press Control-F on your keyboard to repeat the previous filter.

Transforming layer

Step 9

Go to Edit > Transform > Rotate 90° Clockwise to rotate this layer another 90° clockwise, and then press Control-F on your keyboard to repeat the previous filter again.

Transforming layer

Step 10

Now go to Edit > Transform > Rotate 180° to rotate this layer 180° clockwise, and then go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and set the Amount to 250%, Radius to 1.5 px and Remove to Gaussian Blur as shown below:

Adding smart sharpen filter

Step 11

Go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise, and set the Strength to 5, Preserve Details to 0%, Reduce Color Noise to 54% and Sharpen Details to 0% as shown below:

Adding reduce noise filter

Step 12

Now go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Temp 3.

Creating a new layer

Step 13

Press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Cutout, and set the Number of Levels to 4, Edge Simplicity to 0 and Edge Fidelity to 3 as shown below:

Adding cutout filter

Step 14

Now set the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 56%.

Changing the blending mode and opacity

Step 15

Control-click on the Temp 2 layer to get both layers selected at the same time and press Control-E on your keyboard to merge them. Then name this new layer GTA Art Style.

Merging layers

3. How to Create a Stroke Around the Subject

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create a stroke around the subject. Select the Background layer, hide the GTA Art Style layer, choose the Quick Selection Tool (W), and select the background. Feel free to use the Shift and Alt buttons to add or remove some areas from the selection. Then press Control-Shift-I on your keyboard to invert the selection and get the selection around the subject.

Making the selection

Step 2

Now go to Select > Modify > Smooth and set the Sample Radius to 5 px. Then select and show the GTA Art Style layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Subject Stroke.

Creating a new layer

Step 3

Choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), set the foreground color to #000000, Right-click anywhere inside the canvas, and choose Stroke. Set the Width to 5 px, Location to Outside, Mode to Normal and Opacity to 100% as shown below:

Adding stroke

4. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make final adjustments to the design. Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer, and name it Overall Contrast.

Creating gradient map adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 26%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels to create a new levels adjustment layer and name it Overall Brightness.

Creating new levels adjustment layer

Step 4

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel use the settings below:

Adjusting levels

Step 5

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation to create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer and name it Overall Saturation.

Creating hue and saturation adjustment layer

Step 6

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel use the settings below:

Adjusting saturation

Step 7

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves to create a new curves adjustment layer and name it Color Look.

Creating curves adjustment layer

Step 8

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel use the settings below:

Adjusting curves

Step 9

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast to create a new brightness/contrast adjustment layer and name it Background Brightness.

Creating brightnesscontrast adjustment layer

Step 10

Now, while the layer mask of the Background Brightness layer is selected, choose the Brush Tool (B), set the foreground color to #000000, and brush over the subject.

Brushing into layer mask

Step 11

Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel enter the settings below:

Adjusting brightness and contrast

You Made It!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

Final result

If you would like to create the even more advanced grand theft auto photo effects shown below and using just a single click, then check out my Grand Theft Photoshop Action.

The action works so you just fill in your subject with a color and play the action. Yes, it's really that simple! The action will do all the work for you, leaving you fully layered results that you can further customize.

It comes with a detailed video tutorial that demonstrates how to use the action and also how to customize the results to get the most out of the effect.

Action final results
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