I spent the day in a class with Margaret Bucklew learning how to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to make applique patterns for realistic looking portrait quilts.
Photoshop Elements was a blast to use and, once I understand the lingo, will make some of my photos more interesting.
Here's Margaret's web site that shows some of her fabulous work.
Basically you change the photogragh from color to layers of gray scale. I took this photo of my Dad from this:
Once you get the layering done you need to spend time refining the layers and eliminating some of the smaller bits so that you can actually use the templates for appliques. That part could take longer that the playing with the photo but, if you are making the pattern for your own use, you can play with the appliques pieces themselves to get the look you want.
Her appliques are actually done with fusible web and with zigzagging over the raw edges... the simpliest machine appliques technique known to me.
If I actually get this picture into a quilt I will definitely give you a peek.
I wll NOT use the wild colors shown above.
BTW Margaret has an on-line tutorial that looks intriguing if you would like to explore her technique.