How to Photoshop a ‘Pencil Sketch’ – Fast

Last week’s Photoshop class assignment was so simple in concept that I was amazed it counted for a full grade. Our assignment: Create a pencil sketch using a technique our teacher showed us in lecture (which I’ll share with you in a moment). To get the base, black-and-white sketch, or the funky colored-pencil looking sketch takes about a minute or two.

Here’s what I did:

Pittsburgh Photo Original (Click for a Bigger View)

Pittsburgh Photo Original (Click for a Bigger View)

Pittsburgh Photo Pencil Sketch (Click for a Bigger View)

Pittsburgh Photo Pencil Sketch (Click for a Bigger View)

I used a photo I took in Pittsburgh, from the top of the Duquesne Incline. I added a small amount of complexity to the piece I turned in by adding a layer mask to color in only the incline car and some color adjustments to warm up the rest of the picture, but other than my indecisiveness and wanting to make it look perfect, as well as playing around with other images, this process is fast.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open the image file you want to use and Duplicate the Background layer
  2. Convert the Background Copy layer to a grayscale image with the Desaturate adjustment (IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>DESATURATE)
  3. Duplicate the Background Copy layer (the grayscale image) and invert it to a negative image (IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>INVERT)
  4. Change the Blending Mode of this negative image Layer from Normal to Color Dodge either directly in the Layers Palette or in the Layer Style menu — this step is sort of weird because it’ll look like your image disappeared
  5. Go to the Filter>Other menu and apply a 2 to 5 pixel Minimum Filter to the Inverted/Color Dodge layer (FILTER>OTHER>MINIMUM) — the bigger the number you choose, the thicker the lines will be

Note: to get the colored-in look, use a full-color Background Copy as the layer beneath the Inverted/Color Dodge layer.

One more example I created, this time a photo I took at the Getty that’s fully “colored in”:

Getty Photo Original (Click for a larger view)

Getty Photo Original (Click for a larger view)

Getty Photo Colored Pencil Sketch (Click for a larger view)

Getty Photo Colored Pencil Sketch (Click for a larger view)

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