Photoshop Sketch

2/14/2022by admin

“Sketch” and “paper” go together like peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cream, and Sonny and Cher. (Okay, bad example.) But the next-generation of sketching uses a Wacom stylus and tablet and Photoshop instead of the traditional pencil and pad. The advantages? Digital sketching allows you to create your desired image and experiment with an endless variety of brushes, colors and styles—easily, naturally and without consuming valuable materials. Pretty cool, huh?

Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to Photoshop sketching awesomeness just using the brush tool and the layers palette.

Select the Base Sketch layer and go to Layer New Layer Via Copy to duplicate the Base Sketch layer again. Pick the Lasso Tool (L), click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Free Transform, and decrease the width and height to 95% as shown below: Step 4 Name this layer Small Draft Sketch and set its opacity to 14%. Pencil sketch your photo is a free online tool, where it make your photo to pencil sketched quickly. Just upload your photo, set the pencil shadow or thickness, then click pencil sketch button to enhance uploaded photo to pencil sketched image. If you would like to create the effect shown on the right, a sketch with a paint effect, and just using a single click, then check out my TechnicalArt Photoshop Action over on Envato Elements or as part of a bundle on GraphicRiver.

Step 1: Start with a clean canvas.
Open a new file in Photoshop, choosing the options that are right for you. I set my image size to 8 x 8 inches and the resolution at 300 pixels/inch or “dpi”. A resolution of at least 300 will ensure that we can print a nice clear copy of our sketch when we’re done. After you’ve made your selections, click OK and a blank canvas will appear.

Photoshop Sketch Effect

Step 2: Layer it on.
On the right side of the Photoshop window, below the color palette, is the layers palette. Because the file has just been created, there is only one layer: the solid white “Background.” Click the icon at the bottom of the Layers palette that looks like a square with a folded corner to create Layer 1. Think of this new layer as a piece of clear glass on which we’ll be sketching.

Step 3: Brush up on brushes.
Click on the icon that looks like a small paintbrush to select the Brush tool.

Choose a size that’s similar to your favorite drawing tool by going to the Options bar. I’m a big fan of ballpoint pens, so I’ll be using a brush size of 10.

Next, choose the brush’s hardness, which determines whether the edge of the brush is hard or soft, by clicking on the small down arrow next to the brush size. For sketching, I like to use a hard-edged brush, so I’ll leave this at 100%.

Now set the opacity, how opaque or translucent your lines will be. If you want to replicate pressing hard on a pencil, raise the opacity. If you want to mimic drawing lightly with a pencil, set it in the 20% range. Just like a pencil, you’ll be able to build up the line over itself and darken areas as you go.

Step 4: Make your mark.
Start sketching! Just as you would with traditional media, keep your grip light on the Wacom stylus during sketching. (Pressing down with different levels of pressure on the tablet will adjust your brush size, but not the opacity of the brush.) Keep initial lines loose, exploring the shape. It may be tempting to look at the tablet as you draw, but with practice you’ll be able focus your attention on the screen.

Step 5: Take charge of the screen.
Now, here’s one of the best parts of sketching in Photoshop with a Wacom tablet: You can zoom in and rotate the screen! Press “R” to turn on the Rotate tool then click and drag the hand image to rotate to the desired angle. Click on the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the toolbar to zoom in and hone those finer details.

Step 6: Embrace the erase.

Here’s what I created once I rotated my drawing and zoomed in a bit:

Whoa, this guy is weirding me out! Good thing I can erase.

Click the Eraser tool (the 11th icon from the top in the tool bar—it looks like a box), select the size you want, and “draw” it over anything you want to get rid of. Or do it the easy way and flip your Wacom stylus upside down. It will automatically become an eraser!

Step 7: Admire your handiwork.
Congrats! You’ve just completed your first sketch in Photoshop.


The next step is to add more details and color to really finish the drawing. We will provide more direction on how to ink over your sketch, add color and get it ready to print in future posts. In the meantime, have fun exploring the endless possibilities in Photoshop.

Good luck and keep sketching!

In a previous Photoshop tutorial, we learned how to convert a photo into a sketch using a technique that works great with portraits, since it tends to leave out small, unwanted details like wrinkles and other skin blemishes while focusing more on the general features we want to see in the sketch, like a person's eyes, nose and lips.

Sometimes though, when working with other types of images like landscape or nature photos, buildings and architecture, still lifes, or really any image that doesn't focus on people, you'll want the sketch to include those tiny details the previous technique would ignore.

In this tutorial, we'll learn a slightly different way to convert a photo to a sketch that's usually better suited for these other types of images since it often does an amazing job of bringing out fine details.

If you've already read through the previous Portrait To Sketch tutorial, you'll find that most of the steps here are the same. It's really just one change in one of the steps that makes all the difference. So as an added bonus for those already familiar with the previous tutorial, at the end of this one, we'll learn how to create the entire sketch effect from beginning to end in 60 seconds or less! As before, I'll be using Photoshop CS5 throughout this tutorial but any recent version will work. You'll find the Photoshop Elements version of this tutorial here.

Here's the photo I'll be starting with, which comes to us from the Fotolia image library:

The original image.

Here's how it will look after being converted to a color sketch:

This tutorial is from our Photo Effects series. Let's get started!

How To Create A Detailed Sketch Effect

Step 1: Duplicate The Background Layer

Let's begin as we usually do with photo effects by making a copy of our original image. This way, all of the changes we make will be made to the copy, leaving the original photo unharmed. If we look in the Layers panel, we see our image sitting all by itself on the Background layer, which is currently the only layer in the document:

The Layers panel showing the photo on the Background layer.

Go up to the Layer menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen, choose New, then choose Layer via Copy. Or, for a faster way to run the same command, press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard:

Either way makes a copy of the layer. Photoshop automatically names the copy 'Layer 1' and places is above the Background layer in the Layers panel:

A copy of the image appears above the original.

Step 2: Desaturate The Layer

Go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen, choose Adjustments, then choose Desaturate:

The Desaturate command quickly removes all color from the image, leaving it in black and white:

The image after running the Desaturate command.

Step 3: Duplicate The Layer

Just as we did in Step 1, make a copy of the layer by going up to the Layer menu, choosing New, then choosing Layer via Copy, or by pressing Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard. A copy of Layer 1 appears above the original in the Layers panel:

Step 4: Invert The Image

Go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, then choose Invert:

Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert.

This will invert the brightness values in our black and white image, making light areas dark and dark areas light:

Inverting a black and white image creates a 'photo negative' effect.

Step 5: Change The Layer Blend Mode To Color Dodge

Change the blend mode of the inverted layer from Normal (the default setting) to Color Dodge. You'll find the blend mode option in the top left of the Layers panel:

Change the layer blend mode from Normal to Color Dodge.

This will temporarily turn the document white:

Step 6: Apply The Minimum Filter

Up to this point, the steps have been the same as in the previous tutorial where we turned a portrait into a sketch. In that tutorial, we used Photoshop's Gaussian Blur filter to create the sketch effect by blurring the layer. This time, we want more detail in the sketch than what the Gaussian Blur filter would give us, so we'll use a different filter. Go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, choose Other, then choose Minimum:

Go to Filter > Other > Minimum.

This opens the Minimum filter dialog box. Leave the Radius value at the bottom of the dialog box set to 1 pixel, then click OK to close out of it:

The default Radius value of 1 pixel usually works great.

The photo is instantly converted into a sketch with lots of fine detail, much more than what we could have achieved with the Gaussian Blur filter:

Next, we'll darken the sketch lines, colorize it, and learn how to complete the entire effect in 60 seconds or less!

Step 7: Merge The Layers Onto A New Layer

Hold down your Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key and, with the key still held down, go up to the Layer menu and choose Merge Visible:

Hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) and go to Layer > Merge Visible.

This will merge all of the existing layers onto a brand new layer, 'Layer 2', above them:

Holding down Alt / Option (Mac) while choosing Merge Visible keeps the original layers intact.

Step 8: Change The Blend Mode To Multiply And Adjust The Layer Opacity

Photoshop Sketch Plugin

Change the blend mode of Layer 2 from Normal to Multiply. This will darken the lines in the sketch. If you find the sketch is now too dark, lower the layer's Opacity value, which you'll find to the right of the blend mode option. Keep an eye on the image in the document window as you lower the opacity to fine-tune the results. I'll lower mine down to 65%:

Change the blend mode to Multiply, then lower the Opacity value.

Here's my result with the sketch lines now darker:

The sketch now appears darker against the white background.

Step 9: Duplicate The Background Layer

Let's add color to the sketch using the colors from the original image, which is sitting safely on the Background layer. First, click on the Background layer in the Layers panel to select it:

With the Background layer selected, make a copy of it by going up to the Layer menu, choosing New, then choosing Layer via Copy, or by pressing Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard. Photoshop duplicates the layer, names the copy 'Background copy' and places it directly above the original Background layer:

Photoshop always places a copy of a layer directly above the original.

Step 10: Move The Background Copy Above The Other Layers

Press Shift+Ctrl+] (Win) / Shift+Command+] (Mac) to instantly jump the Background copy layer to the top of the layer stack so it sits above the merged layer (Layer 2). The original photo will once again appear in the document window:

The Background copy layer jumps above the other layers.

Step 11: Change The Blend Mode To Color And Adjust The Layer Opacity

Finally, change the blend mode of the Background copy layer from Normal to Color, which will colorize the sketch. If the color seems too intense, lower the Opacity value until you're happy with the results. I'll lower my opacity down to 50%:

Change the blend mode to Color and lower the opacity if needed.

Here, after colorizing the sketch, is my final result. I've cropped away some of the empty background with the Crop Tool:

Photoshop Sketch Free

Photo To Sketch In 60 Seconds Or Less

As promised at the beginning of the tutorial, here's how to create this same photo to sketch effect in 60 seconds or less, using keyboard shortcuts for most of the work! Before you begin, make sure the Move Tool is selected at the top of the Tools panel, otherwise some of the keyboard shortcuts won't work.

Step 1: With the photo newly opened in Photoshop, press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate the Background layer.
Step 2: Press Shift+Ctrl+U (Win) / Shift+Command+U (Mac) to desaturate the layer.
Step 3: Press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate the desaturated layer.
Step 4: Press Ctrl+I (Win) / Command+I (Mac) to invert the layer.
Step 5: Press Shift+Alt+D (Win) / Shift+Option+D (Mac) to change the blend mode to Color Dodge.
Step 6: Go to Filter >Other >Minimum. Leave the Radius value set to 1 pixel and click OK to close out of the filter's dialog box.
Step 7: Press Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E (Win) / Shift+Option+Command+E (Mac) to merge the layers onto a new layer above the others.
Step 8: Press Shift+Alt+M (Win) / Shift+Option+M (Mac) to change the blend mode of the merged layer to Multiply, which darkens the sketch effect.
Step 9: Lower the layer Opacity value if the sketch now appears too dark.
Step 10: Click on the Background layer in the Layers panel to select it, then press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate it.
Step 11: Press Shift+Ctrl+] (Win) / Shift+Command+] (Mac) to jump the Background copy layer to the top of the layer stack.
Step 12: Press Shift+Alt+C (Win) / Shift+Option+C (Mac) to change the blend mode to Color to colorize the sketch.
Step 13: Lower the Opacity value to reduce the intensity of the color if needed.

And there we have it! That's how to create a more detailed pencil sketch effect from a photo with Photoshop! Visit our Photo Effects section for more Photoshop effects tutorials!

Photoshop Sketches

Get all of our Photoshop tutorials as PDFs! Download them today!
Comments are closed.