How to Reduce Image to Contour Lines With Photoshop

By Daisy Buchanan

Adobe Photoshop is a great program for creating stylized photographs. It is also helpful for altering photographs and graphics so they can be more easily manipulated in vector art programs such as Adobe Illustrator. By using some of the filter settings in Photoshop, you can easily turn an image or photograph into contour lines. This feature is useful for creating contour line drawings as a final product as well as for reducing an image to its outlines so that it can be traced and turned into a vector.

Step 1

Open Photoshop on your computer. Navigate to the "Image" menu. Choose "Mode" followed by "Grayscale." This will instruct Photoshop to convert any images you open to black and white.

Step 2

Open the image you want to convert to contour lines, which will open as a black and white image. It will be easier to turn it to contour lines in black and white.

Step 3

Navigate to the "Filter" menu. Choose "Stylize" followed by "Trace Contour."

Step 4

Select an edge option within the "Trace Contour" menu. This helps the computer to differentiate between the image and the background, if there is one.

Step 5

Experiment with entering different threshold values, with numbers from "0" to "255," to see what settings you like the best. Different number choices emphasize different parts of the image. Once you find a value that you like, click "Okay" to convert the image to contour lines.

Step 6

Save the image and export it if you want to use it in another program.