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Low-Polygon Portrait

A short guide to creating a low-polygon portrait using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

I ran into this video and was intrigued by the idea of creating a low-poly portrait for myself. So I thought of documenting the steps involved.

  1. The first step is to find a good portrait with a clear face. Search on the web for low-poly face to get an idea of what sort of portraits work. It doesn’t have to be a portrait, but a low-complexity image works best. Since I didn’t have the patience to take a portrait for this purpose alone, I went through my phone and found a picture that I thought might work.
  2. Import the image into Adobe Illustrator or any vector handling application, add a new layer above the image and start creating polygons (2). This is the most time-consuming part. Here are some suggestions for creating polygons:
  • Create polygons for areas with similar colours/tones.
  • Stick to 3 sided polygons (triangles). It works best.
  • Larger and fewer triangles for low complexity areas and several smaller triangles for higher complexity areas.
  • Direction and general flow of the mesh must compliment the contours in the image.
  • Too many or too few triangles can ruin the final result.
  • Take your time to do the polygons as this makes all the difference.
  1. Complete all the polgons and connect the edges. Do not leave any gaps.
  2. Once the polygons are done, select each polygon and with the eyedroppertool, fill it with the colour at the centre of the polygon in the image.
  3. Once the polygons are all coloured, you might want to change the background or leave it plain. I decided to go for a defocussed foliage with sunlight as my background. Export the image as a .png with transparent background and import into Adobe Photoshop or any other image editing software. Position the poly layer over your desired background as you see fit. Adjust brightness/contrast, hue/saturation of both layers as required.
  4. Flatten the layers and use Lighting effects filter to add a directional light/spot light. Do not overdo this. Then add a Photo filter if required to further blend the portrait and background. Go to Curves and lower highlights in blues slightly to create softer whites. Add a light vignette and bam! You are done.

A detailed tutorial is on this blog by the original author.  Don’t forget to check out the comments section of the blog for user generated low-poly portraits.

 

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