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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

How to Create a Photo to Pencil Drawing Effect in Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an amazing photo drawing effect in Adobe Photoshop. I will explain everything in so much detail that anyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time. 

The effect shown above is the one I will show you how to create in this tutorial. If you would like to create the even more advanced drawing effects shown below, using just a single click and in only a few minutes, then check out my Construct Photoshop Action.

Action final results

What You'll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following resources:

1. Let's Get Started

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 2000–3000 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Checking image size and mode

2. How to Create the Background

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the background. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Background color, and choose the color #e5e5e5 as shown below:

Creating new solid color fill layer

Step 2

Now go to File > Place Embedded, select the texture from the first texture link, and click Place. Then, set the Width and Height of the texture to 101.73% and name this layer Background Texture.

Placing texture

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White to create a new black & white adjustment layer and name it BT_Desaturate.

Creating new black and white adjustment layer

Step 4

Now press Control-Alt-G on your keyboard to create a clipping mask. Then, select the Background Texture layer and change the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

Changing opacity

3. How to Create the Sketch

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the sketch. Select the Background layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer. Then, go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and set the Shadows Amount to 10% and Highlights Amount to 10%.

Adjusting shadows and highlights

Step 2

Now name this layer Base and press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer. Then, drag this layer to the top of the layers in the Layers panel.

Duplicating layer

Step 3

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Cutout and set the Number of Levels to 8, Edge Simplicity to 10 and Edge Fidelity to 1.

Adding cutout filter

Step 4

Now press Control-Shift-U on your keyboard to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges.

Adding find edges filter

Step 5

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply and set the Opacity to 20%. Then, name this layer Rough_Sketch_1.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 6

Select the Base layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer. Then, drag this layer just below the Rough_Sketch_1 layer in the Layers panel.

Duplicating layer

Step 7

Now go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Cutout and set the Number of Levels to 8, Edge Simplicity to 2, and Edge Fidelity to 1.

Adding cutout filter

Step 8

Now press Control-Shift-U on your keyboard to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges.

Adding find edges filter

Step 9

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply and set the Opacity to 10%. Then, name this layer Rough_Sketch_2.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 10

Now Control-click on the Rough_Sketch_1 layer to select both layers at the same time. Then, go to Layer > New > Group from Layers to create a new group from selected layers and name it Rough Sketch.

Creating new group from layers

Step 11

Change the Opacity of this layer group to 80%.

Changing opacity

Step 12

Select the Base layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer. Then, drag this layer just above the Rough Sketch layer group in the Layers panel.

Duplicating layer

Step 13

Now go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Graphic Pen and set the Stroke Length to 15, Light/Dark Balance to 10, and Stroke Direction to Right Diagonal.

Adding graphic pen filter

Step 14

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply and set the Opacity to 10%. Then, name this layer Shading_1.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 15

Now select the Base layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer. Then, drag this layer just below the Shading_1 layer in the Layers panel.

Duplicating layer

Step 16

Now go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Charcoal and set the Charcoal Thickness to 1, Detail to 5, and Light/Dark Balance to 10.

Adding charcoal filter

Step 17

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply and set the Opacity to 80%. Then, name this layer Shading_2.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 18

Now select the Base layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer. Then, drag this layer just above the Shading_1 layer in the Layers panel.

Duplicating layer

Step 19

Now go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Photocopy and set the Detail to 2 and Darkness to 5.

Adding photocopy filter

Step 20

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply and set the Opacity to 60%. Then, name this layer Main Sketch.

Changing blending mode and opacity

4. How to Create the Foreground Texture

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the foreground texture. Go to File > Place Embedded, select the texture from the second texture link, and click Place. Then, set the Width and Height of the texture to 235% and name this layer Foreground Texture.

Placing texture

Step 2

Now Right-click on this layer and choose Edit Contents. In the new file that will show up, go to Image > Auto Tone. Then, press Control-Shift-U on your keyboard to desaturate this layer.

Adjusting tone

Step 3

Press Control-S on your keyboard to save the changes you have made and close this file.

Saving changes

Step 4

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light.

Changing blending mode

5. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make the final adjustments to the design. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter to create a new photo filter adjustment layer and name it Photo Tint.

Creating new photo filter adjustment layer

Step 2

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, set the Filter to Cooling Filter (80) and Density to 11% as shown below:

Adjusting photo filter

Step 3

Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches. Then, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Overall Contrast.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 4

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Luminosity and set the Opacity to 12%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 5

Now go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance to create a new vibrance adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation.

Creating new vibrance and saturation adjustment layer

Step 6

Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, set the Vibrance to +40 and Saturation to +20.

Adjusting vibrance and saturation

Step 7

Press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 2 px.

Adding high pass filter

Step 8

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Overlay and name it Overall Sharpening.

Changing blending mode

You Made It!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

Final result

If you would like to create the even more advanced drawing effects shown below, using just a single click and in only a few minutes, then check out my Construct Photoshop Action.

The action will create professional and advanced sketch effects from your photos with no work at all! You simply brush over your photo with a color and just play the action. It’s really that simple! The action will do all the work for you, leaving you fully layered and customizable results that you can further modify.

The action comes with a detailed video tutorial that demonstrates how to use the action and customize the results to get the most out of the effect.

Action final results

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