During the recent Shutterstock hackathon, we had all kinds of people working on all kinds of space art projects. To help visually represent the spirit of the event, we decided to bring the hacker mentality to some of our own images, and what we ended up with was this great line-art transformation process that can turn just about any image into a space-age wonder. Read on to see how it’s done, and be sure to try it out for yourself.


Step 1: Choose an Image to Hack
Find an image that would be fun to hack. I chose this evocative castle image from Shutterstock contributor Shchipkova Elena.

Choose an Image to Hack

Step 2: Pen Tooling the Castle
Bring the original image into Adobe Illustrator. Working with the castle image, I wanted to start from the top and work my way down. Use the pen tool (P) to outline the shapes and planes of the structure. Make sure not to use curves; each line should be straight.

Pen Tooling the Castle

Pen Tooling the Castle Even Further

Step 3: Pen Tooling the Rocks

Since the rocks aren’t as easy to outline, this part will be more
abstract. I tried to imagine large chunks of the rocks as separate large
planes, creating polygons (3- to 6-sided) to show depth. When you’re
finished using the pen tool, save your work as an .ai (Illustrator)
file. Keep the Illustrator file open, because you will need to copy the
line art to bring it into Photoshop.

Pen Tooling the Rocks

Pasting a Smart Object

Step 4: Bring the Art Into Photoshop

Open your original image in Photoshop then go back to your
Illustrator file and copy just the line art. You can do this by
highlighting the art and hitting Command + C. Go back to your Photoshop
document and paste the art onto the image (Command + V). A dialog box
will appear — make sure the art is pasted onto the image as a Smart
Object. From there, you can size the and move the art. Once you have the
correct size and placement, make another copy for later; you can hide
this copied layer for now.

Bring the Art Into Photoshop

Step 5: Filling the Artwork

To fill in the shapes of the artwork, go to the Layer panel and
right-click on the artwork layer, then choose Rasterize Layer. You can
fill in the shapes with any color; I chose black. Using the paint
bucket, go around to each shape and click to fill it in.

Filling the Artwork

Filling the Artwork with a Background

Step 6: Galaxy Background

I wanted to create the effect that the hacked castle was in the middle of space, so I chose this galaxy image
by contributor fongfong. Open the new image in Photoshop and select it
by hitting Command + A. Then go to your castle Photoshop file and use
the magnetic lasso (L) to select the sky to paste your galaxy into. When
you’re ready to paste the galaxy, go to Edit > Paste Special >
Paste Into. Size and move the image where you want it and play around
with different overlays. (I used Darken.)

Galaxy Background

Galaxy Background Again

Step 7: Galaxy Water

I wanted the water to have a galaxy effect too, but still maintain its
texture. To make that happen, follow the same procedure as in Step 6,
selecting the water with the magnetic lasso (L) and pasting the galaxy
image within the water (Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into), this
time using Overlay.

Galaxy Water

Galaxy Water Two

Step 8: Reflection

To add a slight reflection of the line work in the water, go back to the
copied layer you made in Step 4. Select this layer and hit Command + T
to transform the art. Right-click on the art and choose Flip Vertical to
flip it upside down, then align it with the bottom of the original art.
To simulate a reflection, choose the eraser tool (E) and make the
hardness of the eraser 0% and the opacity 25%, then erase the lines,
giving it the look of fading out into the water.

Adding Reflection

And that’s it! Your altered masterpiece is complete. Have fun and see
what other otherworldly images you can create using these techniques.

Images used in this post:

Visit Skillfeed for more Illustrator and Photoshop tips.

Like the look of space art? Check out this piece from our Designer Passport series here.