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.
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A second copy of the Background layer, this one cleverly named Background copy 2, will appear directly above the original:
The Desaturate command quickly removes all color from the image, leaving it in black and white:
If you find that your sketch is now too dark, you can brighten it back up by lowering the opacity of the Levels adjustment layer. You’ll find the Opacity option directly across from the blend mode option at the top of the Layers panel. By default, opacity is set to 100%. I’ll lower mine to around 60%:
This inverts the image, giving it a film negative appearance:
Once you have your perfect pencil sketch, why not try adding some color for a nice variation.
We’ll start by learning how to convert the photo into a black and white sketch (and how to keep the effect fully editable with Smart Filters), then we’ll finish things off by learning how to colorize our sketch using colors from the original image.
Go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, choose Blur, then choose Gaussian Blur:
In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to easily turn a portrait photo into a pencil sketch, both in black and white and in color, using Photoshop CS6. If you’re using Photoshop CC, check out the updated Photoshop CC version.
Here’s how it will look after being converted to a color sketch:
In this first example, I added a solid color Fill adjustment layer. Change the blend mode to color, so only the color shows through. Adjust the opacity to suit your tastes.
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%:
Learn how to turn any portrait image into a black and white or color pencil sketch using Photoshop CS6.
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:
One thing I like to do whenever possible is take advantage of Photoshop’s Smart Filters, which keep the filters we apply to an image fully editable in case we want to go back later and change some of the settings. In a moment, we’re going to apply the Gaussian Blur filter, but before we do, let’s make sure we’ll be applying it as a Smart Filter.
Once again, nothing will seem to have happened, but a small Smart Object icon appears in the lower right corner of the layer’s preview thumbnail letting us know it’s been converted into a Smart Object:
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:
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Dragging the Radius slider to apply a small amount of blurring.
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And here, with more subtle colors, is my final “portrait to sketch” result:
Then, just as we did back in Step 4, duplicate the Background layer by going up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen, choosing New, then choosing Layer via Copy, or by pressing Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard:
This version of the tutorial, fully updated from the original version, features a more flexible, non-destructive way to create the sketch effect by taking advantage of Photoshop’s Smart Filters and adjustment layers, along with some handy layer blend modes.
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.
Change to Linear Dodge blend mode and you should see a perfectly white image (Use Color Dodge for sharper edges)
Go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, then choose Invert:
Inverting a black and white image creates a “photo negative” effect.
Holding down Alt / Option (Mac) while choosing Merge Visible keeps the original layers intact.
Double-clicking on the Gaussian Blur Smart Filter will re-open it for further editing.
Hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) and go to Layer > Merge Visible.
And there we have it! That’s how to turn a portrait photo into either a black and white or color pencil sketch using Smart Filters, adjustments layers and blend modes in Photoshop CS6! Visit our Photo Effects section for more Photoshop effects tutorials!
We need to make a copy of the Background layer. To do that, 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 duplicate a layer, simply press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard:
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:
Change the blend mode to Multiply, then lower the Opacity value.
Photoshop adds a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer named Hue/Saturation 1 above the Background layer:
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Photoshop adds a Levels adjustment layer named Levels 1 directly above the Background copy Smart Object (and below the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer):
Duplicate the layer by dragging into the new layer icon, or press Ctrl/Cmd+J
Here’s the photo I’ll be using (teen portrait photo from Shutterstock):
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.
How To Create A Detailed Sketch EffectStep 1: Duplicate The Background Layer
Changing the blend mode of the Levels adjustment layer to Multiply.
This will merge all of the existing layers onto a brand new layer, “Layer 2”, above them:
Step 8: Change The Blend Mode To Multiply And Adjust The Layer Opacity
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:
Next, we need to invert the layer. Go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen, choose Adjustments, then choose Invert. Or, press Ctrl+I (Win) / Command+I (Mac) on your keyboard for the shortcut:
We need to move our Color layer to the top of the layer stack. To do that, click on it and, with your mouse button held down, drag the layer upward until you see a white horizontal bar appear directly above the Hue/Saturation layer:
To colorize the sketch with the colors from the original image, change the blend mode of the Color layer from Normal to Color:
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:
Photoshop always places a copy of a layer directly above the original.
12 responses to “Turn a photo into a pencil sketch in Photoshop tutorial”
Also try running a gradient through a new blank layer at the top and change that to color blend mode.
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Click OK when you’re done to accept your setting and close out of the Gaussian Blur dialog box. Here’s my result:
This removes all color from the photo, leaving it in black and white:
Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur (You could actually use any filter, as long as it creates a difference between the 2 layers)
This opens the Gaussian Blur dialog box. To create our main sketch effect, all we need to do is apply some blurring to this layer. To do that, click on the Radius slider at the bottom of the dialog box and begin slowly dragging it towards the right to apply a slight amount of blur. Keep an eye on the image as you drag and you’ll see it beginning to look more and more like a sketch. Don’t drag too far, though, as too much blurring will make it look like a photo again. A little blurring is all we need.
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:
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Next, we’ll darken the sketch lines, colorize it, and learn how to complete the entire effect in 60 seconds or less!
When the white bar appears, release your mouse button to drop the Color layer into place:
As you can see, the effect itself is quite simple and there are a number of variations that you can try to get very different looking results. Add a comment at let me know how you are using this effect.
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:
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.
We’ve created our main sketch effect, but it’s a bit too light. Let’s darken it, and we can do that using a Levels adjustment layer. In the Adjustments panel again, click on the Levels icon (second icon from the left, top row):
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:
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:
This will invert the brightness values in our black and white image, making light areas dark and dark areas light:
Turn a photo into a pencil sketch in Photoshop tutorialColin Smith
Step 11: Change The Blend Mode To Color And Adjust The Layer Opacity
Finally, if the color looks too intense, you can reduce it by lowering the Opacity value of the Color layer. I’ll lower mine down to 65%:
Nothing will seem to have happened with the image, but if we look in the Layers panel, we see that a copy of the Background layer has appeared between the original and the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer:
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!
Here’s the photo I’ll be starting with, which comes to us from the Fotolia image library:
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.
For that, we first need to convert the layer to a Smart Object. With the Background copy layer still selected, click on the small menu icon in the upper right corner of the Layers panel:
At this point, the basic sketch effect is complete, but if you want to bring back some of the photo’s original color, you’ll want to continue on with these last few steps. First, click on the Background layer (the original one, not the copy) to select it and make it active once again:
Here’s what it will look like as a black and white pencil sketch:
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:
The Color blend mode hides all the tonal information (the brightness values) on the layer and allows only the colors to show through, creating our colorizing effect:
The Multiply blend mode is one of the five most commonly used blend modes in Photoshop, and simply by changing the Levels adjustment layer to Multiply, we’ve managed to darken the sketch effect quickly and easily:
Here are some variations using Color Dodge, you will notice that Linear Dodge produces a softer result that Color Dodge. Try different blending Modes for different results.
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And here’s the same effect after adding back the colors from the original photo:
Click on the Background layer in the Layers panel to select it:
Change the blend mode to Color and lower the opacity if needed.
This tutorial is from our Photo Effects series. Let’s get started!
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Hi CAFE Crew, here is a brand new tut for you all. This is an old favorite of mine. How to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in photoshop. This is actually really easy to do and it gets quite good results too. As usual, I’ll provide a few creative jump off points at the end for your own experimentation.
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:
The controls and options for the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer appear in the Properties panel. To remove the color from the image, simply drag the Saturation slider all the way to the left to a value of -100:
Start with a Photo that has some decent edge detail, here is one I got from Adobe Stock
Go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen, choose Adjustments, then choose Desaturate:
As I mentioned a moment ago, one of the great benefits of applying a filter as a Smart Filter is that we can easily go back and edit its settings later if needed. If we look again in the Layers panel, we see the Gaussian Blur filter listed as a Smart Filter below its Smart Object. If at any point you feel your sketch effect could use a bit more fine-tuning, simply double-click directly on the words Gaussian Blur to re-open its dialog box and re-adjust the Radius value:
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.
The controls and options for the Levels adjustment layer appear in the Properties panel, but we don’t actually need them. Instead, to darken our sketch effect, all we need to do is change the blend mode of the Levels adjustment layer from Normal to Multiply:
To create our sketch effect, the first thing we need to do is remove all the color from our image, and we can do that non-destructively using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. In the Adjustments panel, click on the Hue/Saturation icon (first icon on the left, middle row):
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%:
With my image newly opened in Photoshop, we see in my Layers panel that the photo is sitting all by itself on the Background layer, currently the only layer in my document:
Here, after colorizing the sketch, is my final result. I’ve cropped away some of the empty background with the Crop Tool:
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This will turn the image white. As with my image, you may still see a few small areas of black remaining, but for the most part, it should now appear white (don’t worry about the dark border around my image in the screenshot. It’s just Photoshop’s gray pasteboard area and not part of the effect):
In the upper left of the Layers panel, change the blend mode of the Background copy layer from Normal (the default blend mode) to Color Dodge:
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:
We’re going to use this layer to colorize our sketch, so rather than putting up with Photoshop’s generic layer names like “Background copy 2”, let’s name the layer something more descriptive. Double-click directly on the words Background copy 2, which will select and highlight the name, then rename it Color. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the new layer name:
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There’s no specific Radius value to choose here since it will depend both on the size of your image and on what you think looks best. For me, I’ll set my Radius value to around 12 pixels: