Painted rendering style (Charles Schwab)

I keep seeing these Charles Schwab commercials were the people look like they we painted or created in Illustrator but I know (and it is obvious) to create them in AI and then to animate it would be a lot of work. So my question is, Do any of you know how these are created. I have some persona images that I would like to apply this effect to. Is there a way to do this in PS?

The animation over video footage is called rotoscoping. You can look for rotoscoping software I guess. Have you seen the movie A Scanner Darkly, or Waking Life? they’re rotoscoping animation. I heard they used a software called Rotoshop created by some MIT grad, its proprietary. I would guess not many people know how to use it. As for the Charles Schwab commercials I dunno, but I bet some of the same people were involved. Are you look to output still images or video?

Well I gave it a quick 10min whack at it in PS. meh… not quite there. I think a combination of these plus some quick pen tool outlining lines and you can pretty much get that look

First one is stock image

no.2 Filter>Artistic>Posterize

no.3 Filter>Artistic>Cut Out

no.4 is no.2 set to “Multiply” on top of no.3 with a brush stroke on her chin

no.5 no.2 with a cream color layer ontop set to “saturation”

I am looking for stills.

Choto…Thanks I will try this when I get into the office tomorrow.

I’ve got a PS plugin called SketchMaster by a company called Redfield (it cost money, don’t remember how much). This is what I was able to get in a couple minutes of playing. It has a ton of options, and I think I could get closer if I spent some more time on it.

Have you tried “Livetrace” which is a feature in Illustrator CS3 and 4? It vectorises images/photos and is under the object menu; you can change the settings to suit the detail of the picture and the quantity of colours you´d like.

Exactly what I was going to recommend. Livetrace has saved me so much time on various projects it’s ridiculous!

To make it look good like that you are just going to have to bust out the pen tool. Or you could just start painting over it in photoshop with a hard brush until you get everything blocked right. Then polish it in illusrator.

Personally I think live trace is bunk. You can always tell when someone used it because it’s never big smooth swathes of color like you see in the rotoscoped images. They are always jagged and weird.

I remember talking about this style in my illustrator class. There is a way that you can define the number of control points when using live trace, and i believe you can set them to be smoothed out. Live trace is always nasty looking because of the huge number of control points it puts down.

FLASH will do it for you automatically. Just import a video clip and have it split into frames and then “Trace bitmap” each image. You can get the same exact effect pretty quickly that way. But, the real excitement in that style comes when the artist does it by hand.

Waking Life displays the variances of style of each artist very clearly. It’s awesome.

You could also paint over the images in Flash on your own with the brush tool. Not as precise as Illustrator, but should be a lot faster. The Trace feature in Flash also is a bit less precise than in Illustrator and tends to, in my opinion, get better results for a style like this.

The low color vector look is the key. Photoshop won’t get close without a lot of effort.

I can’t remember what it was called or if it is still around, but there used to be an app by either macromedia or adobe that did just that: converting a pixel image to vector.

I think the name had something to do with a train if i recall correctly. I don’t think the app is still around (i believe it got rolled into Illustrator or another app), but maybe you can still find an old copy someplace.

There’s also this, online version of a similar app-

attached is a screen grab of the result. works pretty good, plus you can adjust for more or less detail. the pic below is medium detail. zoom the pic to see it better.

plus i think there are several different sites that do this. google “convert to vector” and i’m sure you’ll find some plus other tips to use in PS/Illustrator.


It got rolled into Illustrator. The last new version came out years ago… probably late 90’s/early 00’s. It was called Streamline and it did have a train on the cover.

YUp that’s it. It was a pretty good program too, from what I remember… more options than the livetrace tool.


Thanks guys. This has been a lot of help. I will post my results.

forgot to post this last one, used the paint daubs and posterize filter and a touch of blur. I saved the actions as a script.

Could this be accomplished in After Effects?

It would take more time that it would be worth, unless there’s some sort of plug-in. After Effects would be the drawn out companion to the Photoshop process, where Flash or Flash + Illustrator would be the faster, more stylistically appropriate, option.

If you just want to play around or do one image there are a number of web2.0 photo effects sites out there that let you play around with a number of pre-set Photoshop-like image filters.

check this out…

done at