I was going for a picture that was really clean with an uncluttered background.
Once you have your picture, upload it onto Picnik. It's a really awesome FREE online photo editing software. I decided to make mine square, so I used their cropping tools to cut out the rest of the picture.
Then I started playing around with the actual picture itself. I don't exactly remember every little tweak that I made, and every picture is going to be different but I'll give you some pointers that worked for me.
Use this soften tool, over and over again. Make sure to click reverse effect and slide the softness to 100%. It smooths out the lines and clutter that don't really contribute to the subject of your picture. You can adjust the brush size and zoom in really close.
Once things are looking a little hazy you can select this doodle tool and completely smooth out your background. it also has a color selector so you can match your existing background.
Think of how you would describe your subject. For Babbs I would tell you she has a little skunk face with green eyes and a pink nose. Make those features pop! You can use the tint tool to exaggerate the colors you want to stand out, like I did on her eyes.
Or you can use the boost tool to heighten the color like I used on her nose.
After about an hour of playing with that one picture I came up with this! I think it looks pretty cool.
Now for the paint by numbers part! Picnik has this feature called 'posterize' that will magically paint-by-numbers-ify the picture for you. You can also use this to check the progress of simplifying your picture, if its not quite where you want it just don't apply it to your picture. You may need to adjust how many colors it uses and the amount of detail to get the look you're going for. Isn't she presh?
Now that you have your image, go get a canvas. I bought a small 10" x 10" one from Joann's. While I was there I also got the cheapest craft paint I could find in black, white, green, and pink, and some small paint brushes. You don't need to buy every single color that's in your picture, most of the colors will be varied shades of the same tone. If you were doing an entire wall I think buying those little samples of wall paint matched to your colors would be a great idea. Then you'll need to transfer your image to your canvas. To do that you will need to print out your picture onto plain old piece of copy paper. Flip it over and start filling up the back side with pencil. Yep, pencil.
Once you get the back looks like a hot mess lay it on your canvas with the picture facing up. Use a little tape to secure the picture where you want it, that way you can check the canvas to make sure you transferred everything. Then just follow all the lines with something kinda pokey (like your pencil with the led twisted inside) using firm pressure to transfer the pencil from the back of the paper onto the canvas. I was also a little worried that I might rub off some of the lines with the side of my hand while painting, so I went over all the lines again with a sharpie pen.
Once you're done you can take the picture off your canvas and start painting. Just be sure to keep it handy for reference while you're filling in the colors.
Update!I finally made one fro my other cat, Detective Tubbs (from Miami Vice). He loves it! Just look at the joy in his eyes.
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