This is a quick explanation of how to turn a photograph into a vector. When used in the right context, creating things “off computer” and working them into a design can work really well. It can also add more uniqueness to your work as you’re not relying on stock libraries for your resources.

I am using a lipstick mark as I needed one for a project, but you can do it with most things. Do note it works best with things that have a big, solid area of colour.

1) Apply lipstick, smooch some paper

Freaky Friday Jaz

Optional: Make stupid faces in the mirror.

2) Photograph or scan your kisses

If you opt for scan, put something see-through between the paper and the scanner so you don’t get lipstick on it.

3) Open your photo/scan in Photoshop

Pick your best kiss and crop it

Smooch some paper!

4) Image > Adjustments > Threshold

Drag the little arrow up and down until you have the level of difference you want.

Photoshop's Threshold

5) Open Illustrator and paste your edited kiss in

6) Object > Image Trace > Make and Expand

Illustrator's Trace

7) Mwah!

Vector Lips

Additional Notes

To separate out the black parts from the white, right click on the object and select “ungroup”. Right click on it again and select “release compound path”. Then click on the white square that is behind your lipstick mark and use Illustrator’s “select similar objects” feature to have it also select any small white parts left in the lips. Hit delete, and you will be left with just the black parts of the vector.