photoshop creative

How to turn a photo into a sketch in Photoshop, part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by The Photoshop Creative Team
March 25, 2014

Create a pencil sketch effect from a photo, using a custom brush and several of Photoshop’s editing tools for making this effect

Download all the tutorial files for this tutorial here


Open up ‘pencil sketch start image.jpg’. Double-click on the Background layer in the Layers palette, rename it Original Photo and click OK. This has unlocked the layer so we can work with it, so hide it by clicking the eyeball icon to the left.


Press Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+N to create a new layer and name it Background then drag this layer to bottom of the stack. Select the Paint Bucket tool (G), double-click the Foreground colour swatch and choose a light grey colour. Click to fill the canvas.


Double-click the Background layer’s thumbnail to open up its Layer Style window. Tick Pattern Overlay and click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Pattern box to access the Pattern Picker. Click the small arrow at the top right of the Pattern Picker window and choose Artist Surfaces.


Click OK to replace your patterns with this selection or Append to add them to your existing pattern choices. Choose the Dark Coarse Weave pattern, reduce the Opacity to 85% and click OK.


While on the original photo layer, press Ctrl/Cmd+J to duplicate the layer. Do this three times, so that you have three new copies of the photo layer. Rename the new photo layers from top to bottom Screen, Sketch and Lines.


Make the Lines layer visible (click the eyeball icon) and go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate (or press Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+U). Go to Filter>Stylize>Glowing Edges. Enter values of Edge Width 4, Edge Brightness 10 and Smoothness 10. Press Ctrl/Cmd+I to invert the image.


Change the layer’s blending mode to Multiply (click the arrow next to the word Normal at the top of the Layers palette and choose Multiply from the fly-out menu) and reduce the layer Opacity to 50%. Select the Eraser tool and use it to remove the two circles on her lips and the small circles in her pupils.


Make the Sketch layer visible, desaturate it (Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+U) and change the layer’s blending mode to Multiply. Add a layer mask by clicking the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Select the Paint Bucket tool (G) with the colour black, and click the canvas to fill the mask.


Make the Screen layer visible, select the Magic Wand tool (press W) and change the Tolerance value to 25 in the top navigation bar. Click the background of the photo to select it. Hide the visibility of the Screen layer again and click the Sketch layer’s mask.


Select the Brush tool (B) and the Graphite Sketch brush with the colour white. Make sure the brush size is 250px and reduce the brush’s Opacity to 75%. Use the brush on the layer mask, sweeping broadly back and forth across the canvas horizontally. When you’re done, press Ctrl/Cmd+D to deselect.