Adobe Photoshop CC: Creating Pencil Sketches

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

the original color image taken in my garden

Open up the photo you want to work on.

Duplicate the image layer: (cntrl / cmnd + J).

a desaturated copy of the color image

Desaturate the new layer with 'image > adjustments > desaturate'

Duplicate this layer - so you should now have a colour background layer and 2 desaturated layers above it.

Select the top layer and (2 choices):

1: Invert it (cntrl / cmnd + I) and change the layer mode for the top layer to colour dodge, or

2: Don't Invert it, and instead apply a blending mode of 'divide'.

Either method almost always turns the layer to white. Sometimes there are little bits of black left.

Creating the 'drawn' effect:

Photoshop's pencil drawing effect applied

1) Apply a Gaussian Blur ('filter > blur > Gaussian Blur') to either of the top two layers. This will create a pencil drawing effect. It will be different depending on which layer you apply the blur to.

Move the gaussian blur slider right or left to increase / decrease the amount of blur. Or,

2) Choose 'filter > other > minimum'. It gives a slightly different effect to the above method. This is really the better of the two methods.

You can adjust the image further by using the Dodge and Burn tools. The Dodge tool will lighten the image, the Burn tool darkens it.

And that's it!

subtle color added to the pencil sketch from the original image

You can also duplicate the original colour layer again, drag it to the top of the stack and add a layer mask - filled with black. That makes the layer invisible. However, if you paint on it with a large, soft white brush that has very low opacity, it will gradually tint the layers beneath with the colours of the original image.

Cool, huh?

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