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One of my readers recently wrote in asking how to make her photo into a pencil sketch.

So here is a tutorial to teach you how.  I am using the photo I just made into a blog header.  Check out a variety of other ways to edit this photo by watching the top of my blog.

*** HINT: And if you want to “cheat,” keep watching, I may pop up a free action to turn your photos into a pencil sketch next week ***

Pencil Sketch Drawing – THE TUTORIAL

Start by picking a photo you want to use. Not every photo will get amazing results with this technique, so you may need to do some trial and error.

Original:

pencil-sketch1 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

You need to desaturate it – you can use any method to get rid of color – from desaturating in hue/saturation to using channel mixers or gradient map. I will use a gradient map for this example.

pencil-sketch2 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

pencil-sketch3 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

Next duplicate the layer by holding the “ctrl” or “cmd” key and “J” – then hit “ctrl” or “cmd” and “I” to invert your selection. And then change your blending mode to “color dodge” as shown below. Your photo will look white or mostly white. It is suppose to at this point.

pencil-sketch4 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

The next step is to use the “gaussian blur” under the “filters menu.” The higher the blur, the deeper and darker your pencil sketch will be. There are no exact numbers – it is based on the individual image.

For the image below, I did a blur of 5.8 pixels. If I wanted thinner lines, the number would be lower. If I wanted thicker lines, I would increase the number.

pencil-sketch5 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

Lastly, if you want the lines a little darker or lighter (but not thicker or thinner), you can use a levels adjustment layer as shown below. Move the midtone slider to the right to make the lines darker or left to make it lighter.

pencil-sketch6 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

Here is the final sketch:

pencil-sketch7 How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

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No Comments

  1. leah on September 13, 2008 at 11:54 am

    oooh, i’d love the action!!!! 🙂

  2. Jessica on September 13, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I’m struggling to get this to work… I’ve tried four different pictures now and I never get one that looks like it has pencil lines. I would love to achieve this look though, so maybe I just need to wait for the action? Everything looks good right up until the blur, but then adding the blur doesn’t give it the same look that the example on your blog gets.

  3. ttexxan on September 14, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Jodi you flatten the image after de-saturation correct. I wasnt sure if that where Jessica might be getting hung up. At first I duplicated the Gradient map layer on accident and didn’t work, but when flattening work like a charm…So to clarify I followed this open image—de-saturate image(using gradient map)—flatten image—duplicate image—Invert image—-apply blur to image—-levels to lighten or darken.Works great and very quick effect…Would love in action form

  4. ttexxan on September 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I left out a step on my first comment sorry Jodi you flatten the image after de-saturation correct. I wasnt sure if that where Jessica might be getting hung up. At first I duplicated the Gradient map layer on accident and didn’t work, but when flattening work like a charm…So to clarify I followed this open image—de-saturate image(using gradient map)—flatten image—duplicate image—Invert image—-Apply color dodge–apply blur to image—-levels to lighten or darken.Works great and very quick effect…Would love in action form

  5. Jessica on September 14, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you so much ttexxan! I was missing the step of inverting my image before applying the color dodge. Seeing your list of steps helped me pinpoint my problem! :DThanks for this great technique Jodi! I’m off to try it on all kinds of photos now. 🙂

  6. javier mayorga on September 19, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    thank you I was looking for this I try other way and did not gave me this result thank you again

  7. Khalid Ahmad Atif on September 23, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Thanks indeed,This is what I was looking for many days and eventually I found it in this site which, is extremly useful and more handy.Regards,ATIF

  8. Cindy on September 25, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you so much! I have tried this several different ways and your way works the best.

  9. photoshop tutorials on March 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    haha ^^ nice, is there a section to follow the RSS feed

  10. Jay Zuckerman on June 28, 2009 at 2:31 am

    I happened to need to do something like this and I just wanted to poke my head in and say that this tutorial helped a lot.

  11. Mary.Grace on October 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    It seems to me it is good idea. I agree with you., no worries – i feel satisfied, because i just tried private guide in Saint-Petersburg I recommend it

  12. cyanotrix on September 6, 2012 at 11:04 am

    nice 🙂 thanks 🙂

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