How to Make a Photo Look Illustrated in Macromedia Fireworks

Adobe Fireworks (formerly Macromedia Fireworks before Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia in 2005) is a powerful bitmap and vector graphics editor. Unfortunately, it does not contain certain useful features of its cousin Photoshop. One of these features is a "posterize" tool, which is a filter that serves to give images the look of a sketch or illustration.

However, there still exist opportunities for the end user to posterize his photos. Two options are open to him, viz - to perform a manual posterization or to make use of a third-party plugin.

Option 1 - A Manual Posterization

Posterization can be replicated using an extant feature of Fireworks: the Levels menu. Here is how to effect a manual posterization using the levels menu. Thanks are offered to Ilya Razmanov for these directions.

Begin by opening an image in Fireworks. The optimal image will be vibrant in color. This effect may not look the best when applied to a black and white photo.

Choose "Adjust colors > Levels" in the Effects panel.

The Effects panel will load. Change the "Output Levels" maximum from 255 to 4 and hit "OK."

Again select "Adjust colors > Levels."

Now change the "Input Levels" maximum from 255 to 4.

This effect should replicate the posterize function of Photoshop. If you are dissatisfied with the results, change the Input and Output levels slightly.

Option 2 - A Third-Party Plugin

You may search the internet for a third party plugin that supports posterization, or use the free Posterizer plugin found at the Mehdi Plugins website.

Download the plugin. If you are using the Mehdi Plugins plugin, it will be received as a zip file. Unzip this with your unzip utility.

You should now have a file with the 0.8bf extension. Open Fireworks. In the Fireworks app, choose "File > Preferences." In the Preferences menu, find the folders section and activate the "Photoshop Plug-ins" check box. Now press the "..." or "Browse" button and navigate to the folder where your .8bf file is stored. Choose this file, close the Preferences menu, and restart Fireworks.

Now that Fireworks has been restarted, the plugin will be displayed at the bottom of the Xtras menu.

Load an image and fire up the plugin. Consult the documentation of the plugin you are using.

The Mehdi Plugins Posterizer plugin has one Boolean option and four sliders to set. Play with these until the preview image looks desirable and then select "OK" to posterize your picture.

A Final Word

Though the Levels menu option is quicker, the Plugin option may be worth your while, as the Mehdi Plugins Posterizer plugin and any other plugins you may meet offer more finely-tuned control over the posterization plugin. The Mehdi Plugin is probably not the best possible tool out there, as is merely being offered out of expedience as a free tool. You are encouraged to search the web for newer plugins or other solutions to the illustration effect's application. Happy posterizing!

Popular P&S Cameras for High Quality Photos: