7 days of PS Actions, graphics, templates & fonts - for free!* Unlimited asset downloads! Start 7-Day Free Trial
Advertisement
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions

How to Create a Scribble Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Scroll to top
Read Time: 8 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to create an amazing, scribble sketch effect. I will try to explain everything in so much detail that everyone 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 scribble sketch effects shown below, then check out my Scribble Photoshop Action.

Scribble Photoshop ActionScribble Photoshop ActionScribble Photoshop Action

Interested in video tutorials? You can watch this new video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to learn how to create a scribble sketch effect in Photoshop:

What You'll Need

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

1. Let's Get Started

Step 1

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 1500–4000 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 modeChecking image size and modeChecking image size and mode

Step 2

Now we need to expand the canvas a little bit on the top so we have more space around the subject on this side. Go to Image > Canvas Size and use the settings below:

Expanding canvasExpanding canvasExpanding canvas

Step 3

We are going to do the same thing for the left and right sides of the canvas. Go to Image > Canvas Size and use the settings below:

Expanding canvasExpanding canvasExpanding canvas

2. How to Create Brushes

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create a few sketch brushes we'll need. Take a pencil and paper and draw three scribbles. Then scan the scribbles that you drew. 

If you have drawn each scribble on a separate sheet of paper, then you should have three scanned scribble files now. If not, then using some of the selection tools in Photoshop, select each scribble, and move it to a separate file so you have three files. Here are the scribbles that I drew.

Creating scribblesCreating scribblesCreating scribbles

Step 2

You don't have to replicate my scribbles, of course—draw them uniquely. But your scribbles should be drawn sharply and have a similar density to the ones I drew. As you draw unique scribbles, there will be a density difference, but if you draw them so they are noticeably drawn much thicker or more sparsely, your sketch effect may appear too thick or the reverse. 

Now open the first scribble scan, go to Edit > Define Brush to define this scribble as a brush, and name it Temp Brush 1.

Defining the brushDefining the brushDefining the brush

Step 3

Open the second scribble scan, go to Edit > Define Brush to define this scribble as a brush, and name it Temp Brush 2.

Defining the brushDefining the brushDefining the brush

Step 4

Now open the latest scribble scan, go to Edit > Define Brush to define this scribble as a brush, and name it Temp Brush 3.

Defining the brushDefining the brushDefining the brush

Step 5

Now that we have defined our brushes, we need to adjust their settings and then define them again as new brushes. Press B on your keyboard, Right-click anywhere inside the canvas, select the Temp Brush 1 brush, and hit Enter. Then go to Window > Brush and in the Brush window use the settings below:

Changing brush settingsChanging brush settingsChanging brush settings

Step 6

To define this brush with new settings as a new brush, click on the top right icon in the bottom right corner of the Brush panel, and name it Scribble_Brush_1.

Defining new brushDefining new brushDefining new brush

Step 7

Now press B on your keyboard, Right-click anywhere inside the canvas, select the Temp Brush 2 brush, and hit Enter. Then go to Window > Brush and in the Brush window use the settings below:

Changing brush settingsChanging brush settingsChanging brush settings

Step 8

To define this brush with new settings as a new brush, click on the top right icon in the bottom right corner of the Brush panel, and name it Scribble_Brush_2.

Defining new brushDefining new brushDefining new brush

Step 9

Now press B on your keyboard, Right-click anywhere inside the canvas, select the Temp Brush 3 brush, and hit Enter. Then go to Window > Brush and in the Brush window use the settings below:

Changing brush settingsChanging brush settingsChanging brush settings

Step 10

To define this brush with new settings as a new brush, click on the top right icon in the bottom right corner of the Brush panel, and name it Scribble_Brush_3.

Defining new brushDefining new brushDefining new brush

Step 11

Now we have our brushes ready. If you want, you can delete all the temporary brushes we defined by Alt-Clicking on each of them.

Deleting temporary brushesDeleting temporary brushesDeleting temporary brushes

3. How to Create the Base

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the base that determines the subject in our photo, and we will also create the background. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Base.

Creating a new layerCreating a new layerCreating a new layer

Step 2

While the Base layer is selected, fill your subject with a color. You can do it in various ways. For example, you can create a selection of your subject using the Pen Tool (P), Magic Wand Tool (W), Lasso Tool (L) or some other tool, and then just fill the selection with a color. Or you can choose the Brush Tool (B) and brush over your photo using a hard or soft brush. It doesn't matter what color you use.

Filling subject with a colorFilling subject with a colorFilling subject with a color

Step 3

Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer. Name it Background Color, and set the color to #000000 as shown below:

Creating new color fill layerCreating new color fill layerCreating new color fill layer

4. How to Create a Subject Sketch

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create a sketch from our subject using the scribble brushes that we made at the beginning of the tutorial. Select the Base layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Scribble_Sketch_1.

Creating a new layerCreating a new layerCreating a new layer

Step 2

Now set the foreground color to #000000 and choose the Brush Tool (B). Then, pick the Scribble_Brush_1, and brush over the color fill area of the Base layer as well as over the edges of the color fill. Feel free to use different brush sizes.

Brushing into layerBrushing into layerBrushing into layer

Step 3

Select the Base layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Scribble_Sketch_2.

Creating a new layerCreating a new layerCreating a new layer

Step 4

Now set the foreground color to #000000 and choose the Brush Tool (B). Then, pick the Scribble_Brush_2, and brush over the area where you want to have more details. Feel free to use different brush sizes again.

Brushing into layerBrushing into layerBrushing into layer

Step 5

Select the Base layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Scribble_Sketch_3.

Creating a new layerCreating a new layerCreating a new layer

Step 6

Now set the foreground color to #000000 and choose the Brush Tool (B). Then, pick the Scribble_Brush_3, and brush over the area where you want to have more details. Feel free to use different brush sizes again.

Brushing into layerBrushing into layerBrushing into layer

Step 7

Set the Opacity of this layer to 78%.

Changing the opacityChanging the opacityChanging the opacity

Step 8

Now select the Base layer, hide it, and drag it to the top of the layers in the Layers panel.

Arranging layersArranging layersArranging layers

5. How to Reveal the Subject Details

Step 1

In this section we are going to reveal the subject details. Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of this layer. Then, select the Background layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to copy it onto a new layer.

Creating a new layerCreating a new layerCreating a new layer

Step 2

Now drag this layer just above the Scribble_Sketch_1 layer in the Layers panel and name it Subject_Details_1.

Arranging layersArranging layersArranging layers

Step 3

Press Control-Shift-U on your keyboard to desaturate this layer. Then change its Blending Mode to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 59%.

Changing blending mode and opacityChanging blending mode and opacityChanging blending mode and opacity

Step 4

Now press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate this layer, and name this new layer Subject_Details_2.

Duplicating layerDuplicating layerDuplicating layer

Step 5

Drag this layer just below the Subject_Details_2 layer. Then, change the Blending Mode of this layer to Normal and set the Opacity to 25%.

Changing blending mode and opacityChanging blending mode and opacityChanging blending mode and opacity

6. How to Add Texture

Step 1

In this section, we are going to place a texture over the sketch. Go to File > Place Embedded and choose the texture from the link. Then set Width and Height of the texture to 29.48% as shown below and name this layer Texture.

Placing texturePlacing texturePlacing texture

Step 2

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light.

Changing blending modeChanging blending modeChanging blending mode

7. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make some final adjustments to the design. Select the Subject_Details_1 layer, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves to create a new curves adjustment layer, and name it Overall Brightness.

Creating new curves adjustment layerCreating new curves adjustment layerCreating new curves adjustment layer

Step 2

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail, and in the Properties panel use the settings below:

Adjusting curvesAdjusting curvesAdjusting curves

Step 3

Double-click on the Background Color layer thumbnail and set the color to #767676 as shown below:

Changing background colorChanging background colorChanging background color

Step 4

Now select the Overall Brightness layer and hide the Texture layer. Then, press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot.

Making a screenshotMaking a screenshotMaking a screenshot

Step 5

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 2 px as shown below:

Adding high pass filterAdding high pass filterAdding high pass filter

Step 6

Now show the Texture layer again. Then, change the Blending Mode of this layer to Overlay and name it Overall Sharpening.

Changing blending modeChanging blending modeChanging blending mode

You Made It!

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

Final resultFinal resultFinal result

If you would like to create the even more advanced scribble sketch effects shown below, then check out my Scribble Photoshop Action.

The action works so you just brush over your photo and play the action. It's really that simple! The action will do everything for you, giving you fully layered and customizable results.

Advertisement
Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Design & Illustration tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Start your 7-day free trial*
Start free trial
*All Individual plans include a 7-day free trial for new customers; then chosen plan price applies. Cancel any time.