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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions
Design

How to Create Vexel Art in Adobe Photoshop With an Action

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

In this tutorial you will learn how to create an amazing vexel art effect. I will explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

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 vexel art effect shown below, using just a single click and in only a few minutes, then check out my Vexel Photoshop Action.

Action final result

What You'll Need

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

1. Let's Get Started

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

2. How to Create the Vexel Art Style

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the vexel art style. Press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate the Background layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights, and enter the settings below:

Adjusting shadows and highlights

Step 2

Now go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights again and enter the settings below:

Adjusting shadows and highlights

Step 3

Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and set the Brightness to -20 as shown below:

Adjusting brightness

Step 4

Now go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask, and set the Amount to 500%, Radius to 5.0 px, and Threshold to 0 levels as shown below:

Adding unsharp mask filter

Step 5

Go to Filter > Stylize > Diffuse and set the Mode to Anisotropic as shown below:

Adding diffuse filter

Step 6

Now go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise and use the settings below:

Adding reduce noise filter

Step 7

Go to Filter > Blur > Smart Blur, and set the Radius to 5.0, Threshold to 25, Quality to Low, and Mode to Normal.

Adding smart blur filter

Step 8

Now go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask, and set the Amount to 500%, Radius to 1.0 px, and Threshold to 0 levels.

Adding unsharp mask filter

Step 9

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

Adding diffuse filter

Step 10

Now go to Filter > Stylize > Oil Paint, set the Stylization to 5.0 and Cleanliness to 2.0, and uncheck the Lighting.

Adding oil paint filter

Step 11

Go to Filter > Stylize > Oil Paint again, set the Stylization to 10.0 and Cleanliness to 10.0, and uncheck the Lighting.

Adding oil paint filter

Step 12

Now go to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur, and set the Radius to 5 px and Threshold to 15 levels as shown below:

Adding surface blur filter

Step 13

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Cutout, and set the Number of Levels to 8, Edge Simplicity to 5 and Edge Fidelity to 3 as shown below:

Adding cutout filter

Step 14

Now go to Image > Auto Tone and then Image > Auto Contrast to make some auto-corrections to the photo's tone and contrast.

Making auto corrections

Step 15

Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and set the Contrast to 100 as shown below:

Adjusting contrast

Step 16

Now go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask, and set the Amount to 50%, Radius to 5.0 px, and Threshold to 0 levels as shown below:

Adding unsharp mask filter

Step 17

Now name this layer Vexel Art.

Renaming the layer

3. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

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

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Luminosity and set the Opacity to 56%.

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 enter the settings below:

Adjusting levels

Step 5

Go to Layer > New > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Color Look.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 6

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail, and then in the Properties panel, click on the gradient to open up the Gradient Editor panel and enter the settings below:

Adjusting gradient map
The left color stop has color e000e0, and the right color stop has color 005161.

Step 7

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Color.

Changing the blending mode

Step 8

Now go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance to create a new vibrance adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation.

Creating new vibrance adjustment layer

Step 9

Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel set the Vibrance to +43 and Saturation to +22 as shown below:

Adjusting vibrance and saturation

Step 10

Now press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 2 px.

Adding high pass filter

Step 11

Name this layer Overall Sharpening and change the Blending Mode of this layer to Overlay.

Changing the blending mode

You Made It!

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

Final result

If you would like to create the even more advanced vexel art effect shown below, using just a single click and in only a few minutes, then check out my Vexel Photoshop Action.

The action works so you simply fill in your subject with a color and just play the action. The action will do everything for you, giving you fully layered and customizable results. The action also creates 20 preset color looks that you can choose from.

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

Action final result
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