Your Pet “Photo to Art Quilt” Tutorial Part 1

In a few parts, I will explain what you can do with a photo of your pet to prepare a pattern for an art quilt. There are several approaches but if you’re feeling intimidated by the drawing aspect, this can help you. This way employs a few computer helps as well as a light table for tracing (but you can use a window instead).


As you can see my Pug is always with me so he is constant inspiration for an Art Quilt! In a previous post I outlined taking a good photo of your pet. You can read that to be sure you have what you need. When you have the photo you want use, it’s time to start playing with it. One way is to digitally simplify it in Photoshop or another photo editing program. I will explain how I do it in Photoshop in this tutorial but you can also do it similarly in other programs. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can check out TechTimes for the top five free editing programs and look for the feature I will be using –  an older version of Photoshop is at the top of the list!

  1. Open Photoshop and then open your photo in it. Then select Filter>Artistic>Poster Edges.Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 9.55.19 AM

2. It will look like this. To the right you will see adjustments that you can slide to perhaps get the kind of definition you want. I have mine set fairly low because when I increased any of those setting it became less simplified. Look for bigger areas rather than a lot of defined areas. For the art quilt you will be cutting pieces of fabric so you want to seesjust enough shape definition so you can make a pattern. This will be even more clear as we continue.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.00.46 AM   Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.02.38 AM

3. Select OK when you have what you want and Save your Poster Rendered Pet. Next we will desaturate it but you will still want this color version as well. Got to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate. Select “Save as” and save it with another title so you have two copies – one color original and a gray scale one.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.10.51 AMchisumBW

4. Next you will take the gray scale copy, print it, and bring it to a light source (light table or a window works too). Tape it in place with an clean sheet of paper over it and begin tracing the shapes you see to define your pet in simplified shapes with outlines. You have to decide which shapes best define your pet on one hand and which one you can ignore so as not to have too many. Keep in mind some of the smaller defining details can be thread painted! You are looking for shapes that will be the foundation shapes and colors for your thread painting. So as you look for and decide on these shapes, keep in mind for future reference which details you would like to see thread painted.

Here’s my tracing.


I shaded the shapes that I want to be dark in his face but there are also lines which you will see better in the next step. I also shaded some of the medium tone shapes and left the lightest ones alone. This will help in fabric selection which we will talk about in the next tutorial. It is also very important in helping you decide where you want contrast – its very easy to end up with fabrics that are all too similar in tonal value. If you make a sketch here that has definite light, medium and dark values, it will help you later when looking at fabric.

5. Make a black line drawing. Do this by placing a clean sheet of paper over your traced and shaded sketch of shapes. It should look something like mine. I also like to do a little shading in the previous sketch because this step is ultra simplified and looks a bit weird! This one is used for making the fabric shapes after you have made your fabric selection.


In the next tutorial I will show you how to use your Value Sketch and Line Drawing to select fabric and cut out the shapes.

If you prefer, I offer the service of creating a pattern of your pet for you to use in creating your own art quilt… just visit my store, purchase the Pattern Service and I will be in email contact with you to receive your photos for the work to begin!



About Sew Laura Artisan Quilts

Longarm Quilting Service, Digital Designs, Free Motion Quilting, Custom Quilting, Quilting Patterns
This entry was posted in Applique, Art Quilt, Designing, Dogs, Free Motion Quilting, Ideas For Art Quilts, Mini Quilt, Mini Quilt Ideas, Patterns, Pets, Quilted Wallhanging, Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Your Pet “Photo to Art Quilt” Tutorial Part 1

  1. Marge Waskiewicz says:

    Sooooooooo Cute !! Beautiful sketch. Love it Laura.

  2. Lori Ginsberg says:

    GREAT tutorial, Laura!

  3. Pingback: Your Pet “Photo to Art Quilt” Tutorial Part 2 | Painting With Thread

  4. Pingback: Why Contrast in a Quilt Matters  | Painting With Thread

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