Being an Artist, Design Tutorials

Turn Photos into Illustrations with the Adobe Capture CC App

May 29th, 2017

Turn life into illustration

The Adobe Capture CC phone app allows you to turn a hand-drawn sketch, a photo, or live view into a vector illustration. You can also create colour schemes, brushes, patterns, and looks.

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This phone app allows you to create illustration with ease. It can be useful for both artists and general users. For graphic artists, you can convert hand-drawn sketches or typography into a vector illustration.

The live view feature reminds me of the music video by Ah Ha called Take on me, where the lady in the diner is looking into a newspaper and she can see the band members in cartoon form come to life. At a press of a button and you can capture an instant illustration.

Easily create illustrations

If you have always dreamed of being able to make your own illustrations but don’t have the experience, or artistry skills, then this app makes it possible for you to do so very easily. For experienced illustrators, this can massively speed up your process.

The results are a little crude, which works for turning typography into vectors because of the way it simplifies and smooths the shapes. Below is a direct comparison between scanning an image with a scanner and converting it to an illustration in Adobe Illustrator (on the left) compared with using the Adobe Capture CC App (on the right).

A scanned image turned vector in illustrator compared to Adobe Capture CC App

So, if you want a much higher quality illustration then you can either use the Adobe Capture CC app and then clean up the results in Adobe Illustrator. Or you can follow my process for using Adobe Illustrator to turn a hand drawn sketch into an illustration.


The app is free. You need an Adobe Creative Cloud account, which is also free, but the catch is you also need Adobe CC software. Without CC you can still use the app and capture everything just fine, but you can’t access the vector files. So if you have an older version of Adobe then you wont be able to access the vector files, but you save the image.

If you don’t have Adobe CC, you can try the software for free. To sign up and purchase Creative Cloud it’s $10 a month for the Photography set (Lightroom & Photoshop CC), $20 a month for a single app from the creative suite, or $50 a month you get the whole Adobe CC suite.


With each of the following, you can capture from live view, your photos, or Adobe Stock images.
You can create:
Vector Illustrations
Color Palates

Below I have included an example process for creating illustrations from a hand-drawn typography sketch.

Turn a hand-drawn sketch to a vector

Turn hand-drawn sketch into digital vector file

The app is fantastic for taking a sketch and turning it into vector art. Above is a hand-drawn sketch I drew with a Sharpie.

Turn hand-drawn sketch into digital vector file

To capture, you hold your phone over the sketch and then using the slider you can adjust the threshold of the black selected, then when you’re happy with it press the camera icon to capture. Next, you have the option to erase any areas you want to remove. Then you have the option to smooth the illustration or keep it as it is. Lastly, you save it into your Creative Cloud account.

Watch the Adobe Video Walkthrough

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written by Tamsin
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