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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Text Effects
Design

How to Create a Sketch Text Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I will show you how to create an action in Adobe Photoshop that will transform any font you like into a realistic sketch. You will also learn how to create brushes that look like pencil drawings using the default brushes from Photoshop and some filters. In the end, you will have an action to do all the work for you with a single click.

This action is part of the Any Font to Sketch Photoshop Action. The complete action works with both text and shapes and has three different sizes for your convenience. It also works with any color you like.

Any font to sketch promotion image
Any Font to Sketch Photoshop Action

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during this tutorial:

The items marked with a "*" are inside the zip file attached to this tutorial, edited and ready for this tutorial.

1. How to Create the Style

Step 1

Go to File > New and create a new document with the following settings:

  • Name: Sketch Action
  • Width: 2000 px
  • Height: 1000 px
  • Resolution: 300 Dpi
  • Color Mode: RGB Color 8 bit
  • Background Contents: White
Creating a new document

Step 2

Pick the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and write "SKETCH". Then choose the He's Dead Jim font and set the font size to 137 pt.

Text where the effect will be applied

Step 3

Select the text layer on the Layers panel, and then go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options and add a Pattern Overlay with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Pattern: Sketch-Texture-tt (Attached to this tutorial)
  • Scale: 100%
  • Link with Layer: On

Then click OK to close the Layer Style panel.

Pattern Overlay settings

Step 4

Go to Window > Styles to open the Styles panel. Then click on the Create New Style icon and name it Sketch Style.

Saving the new style

2. How to Create the Brushes

Step 1

This brush is going to be used with a motion blur, making the borders of the text appear a little blurred.

To start, hide the text layer—we are not going to use it for now. 

Now Pick the Brush Tool (B) and go to Window > Brush Settings. Then select the Soft Round 30 brush and change its Size to 6 px and Spacing to 1%. After that, click on the little icon on the top right corner of the Brush Settings panel and choose New Brush Preset... to save the new preset, name it Sketch Contour - 1, and click OK.

Creating a new brush preset

Step 2

The next brush is going to be used as a mask for the text borders, making it appear less straight.

With the same brush selected (Soft Round 30), go back to the Brush Settings panel and configure it with these settings:

  • Size: 25 px
  • Hardness: 51 %
  • Spacing: 59%
Second Brush Settings

Shape Dynamics:

  • Size Jitter: 39%
  • Size Jitter Control: Off
  • Minimum Diameter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter Control: Off
  • Roundness Jitter: 0%
  • Roundness Jitter Control: Off
Shape Dynamics Settings

Scattering:

  • Both Axes: Off
  • Scatter: 29%
  • Scatter Control: Off
  • Count: 1
  • Count Jitter: 0%
  • Count Jitter Control: Off
Scattering Settings

Step 3

Click on the little icon on the top right corner of the Brush Settings panel to save the new preset, name it Pencil Contour Mask 1, and click OK.

Saving the Pencil Contour Mask 1 brush

Step 4

Now we are going to create the first pencil-like brush. It is going to be used as a background stroke.

Press Control-Shift-N to create a new layer and name it Pencil Brush 1. Then pick the Brush Tool (B) and right-click anywhere on the document to open the brush options. Select the Soft Round brush and change its Size to 2 px. Then change the color of the brush to #aeaeae and make a horizontal line about 85 px long.

Drawing the base brush

Step 5

Now, with only the Pencil Brush 1 layer selected, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and save the brush, naming it Pencil Contour Base 1. After that, go to the Brush Settings panel again and select the brush that we just created (Pencil Contour Base 1), and configure it with these settings:

  • Size: 85 px
  • Flip X and Y: Off
  • Angle:
  • Roundness: 100%
  • Spacing: 231%
Configuring a new brush

Shape Dynamics:

  • Size Jitter: 66%
  • Size Jitter Control: Off
  • Minimum Diameter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter: 2%
  • Angle Jitter Control: Direction
  • Roundness Jitter: 0%
  • Roundness Jitter Control: Off
  • Flip X and Y: Off
  • Brush Projection: Off
Shape Dynamics Settings

Scattering:

  • Scatter: 32%
  • Both Axes: Off
  • Scatter Control: Off
  • Count: 1
  • Count Jitter: 0%
  • Count Jitter Control: Off
Scattering settings

Transfer:

  • Opacity Jitter: 41%
  • Opacity Jitter Control: Off
  • Flow Jitter: 19%
  • Flow Jitter Control: Off
Transfer settings

Step 6

Now save this preset and name it Pencil Contour 1.

Saving the first pencil like brush

Step 7

Now it is time to create the main brush. This one will make all the difference, making the border look very realistic.

Hide the Pencil Brush 1 layer and create a new one, naming it Pencil Brush 2.
After that, select the Soft Round brush again and configure it with these settings:

  • Size: 4 px
  • Flip X and Y: Off
  • Angle:
  • Roundness: 100%
  • Hardness: 18%
  • Spacing: 1%
Second pencil like brush settings

Shape Dynamics:

  • Size Jitter: 38%
  • Size Jitter Control: Off
  • Minimum Diameter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter Control: 0%
  • Roundness Jitter: 14%
  • Roundness Jitter Control: Off
  • Minimum Roundness: 1%
  • Flip X and Y: Off
  • Brush Projection: Off
Shape Dynamics Settings

Scattering:

  • Scatter: 10%
  • Both Axes: Off
  • Scatter Control: Off
  • Count: 1
  • Count Jitter: 0%
  • Count Jitter Control: Off
Scattering settings

Step 8

Change the color of the brush to #7a7a7a and make a horizontal line about 200 px long on the Pencil Brush 2 layer.

Drawing the second base pencil brush

Step 9

Now, with only the Pencil Brush 2 layer selected, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and save the brush, naming it Pencil Contour Base 2.

After that, go to the Brush Settings again and select the Pencil Contour Base 2 brush, and configure it with these settings:

  • Size: 200 px
  • Flip X and Y: Off
  • Angle:
  • Roundness: 100%
  • Spacing: 261%
Brush Settings

Shape Dynamics:

  • Size Jitter: 16%
  • Size Jitter Control: Off
  • Minimum Diameter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter: 2%
  • Angle Jitter Control: Direction
  • Roundness Jitter: 0%
  • Roundness Jitter Control: Off
  • Flip X and Y: Off
  • Brush Projection: Off
Shape Dynamics settings

Scattering:

  • Scatter: 10%
  • Both Axes: Off
  • Scatter Control: Off
  • Count: 1
  • Count Jitter: 0%
  • Count Jitter Control: Off
Scattering settings

Dual Brush:

  • Brush: Soft Round Brush 30
  • Mode: Color Burn
  • Flip: Off
  • Size: 18 px
  • Spacing: 1%
  • Scatter: 0%
  • Both Axes: Off
  • Count: 1
Dual Brush Settings

Transfer:

  • Opacity Jitter: 17%
  • Opacity Jitter Control: Off
  • Flow Jitter: 61%
  • Flow Jitter Control: Off

Then active the Noise option (there are no settings for this one).

Transfer settings

Step 10

Save this preset and name it Pencil Contour 2.

Saving the brush preset

3. How to Create the Action

Step 1

In the same document we created before, delete all the layers and leave the white background. Then pick the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and write "SKETCH".

Text and background layers

Step 2

Go to Window > Actions to open the Actions panel. Then click on the Create new set icon to create a new set of actions, and name it Text to Sketch (300 DPI).

Creating a new set of actions

Step 3

We are about to start recording everything we do in Photoshop, so please follow all the instructions and nothing else. If needed, you can stop the recording, delete any wrong step you make, and then resume the recording again.

Leave the text layer selected on the Layers panel and click on the Create new action icon on the Actions panel, and then name it Sketch Effect and click on Record.

Creating a new Action

Step 4

Rename the text layer to BKP Text and change the size of the text to 138 pt. After that, press Control-A to select the entire document.

Changing the text size and selecting the document

Step 5

Pick the Move Tool (V) and align the layer with the document both on Vertical and Horizontal centers. Then press Control-D to remove the selection.

Aligning the layer with the document

Step 6

Press Control-J to duplicate the layer. Then rename the copy to BKP Text 1 and hide it.

Renaming and hiding the layer

Step 7

Select the BKP Text layer again and go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options to open the Layer Style panel. Then add a Stroke with these settings:

  • Size: 8 px
  • Position: Outside
  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Overprint: Off
  • Color: #000000
Stroke settings

Step 8

Now, right-click on the current layer and choose Convert to Smart Object, and then right-click again and choose Rasterize Layer. After that, rename it to Base Text.

Rasterizing and renaming the layer

Step 9

Apply the style that we created at the beginning of this tutorial (Sketch Style) to the Base Text layer. Then hold the Control key and click on the thumbnail of the Base Text layer to create a selection. After that, pick the Lasso Tool (L) and right-click on the selection, choose Make Work Path, and create it with a Tolerance of 2.0 px.

Creating the work path

Step 10

With the Base Text layer selected, click on the Add Vector Mask icon on the Layers panel. Then pick the Brush Tool (B) and select the Pencil Contour Mask 1 brush.

Creating the vector mask and selecting the brush

Step 11

Press D to reset the swatches to default white and black, and then press X to exchange them. After that, go to Window > Paths to open the Paths panel and right-click on the Work Path, choose Stroke Path, and then select Brush on the Tool mode and click OK.

Stroking the work path with a brush

Step 12

Convert the Base Text layer to a Smart Object, and then go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise to add a noise filter with these settings:

  • Amount: 9.82%
  • Distribution: Uniform
  • Monochromatic: On
Noise settings

Step 13

Pick the Brush Tool (B) again and select the Sketch Contour - 1 brush. After that, press Control-Shift-N and name the new layer Sketch Contour 1. Then go back to the Paths panel and delete the existing Work Path.

Showing the new layer and deleting the work path

Step 14

Hold down the Control key and click on the thumbnail of the BKP Text 1 layer to create another selection. Then pick the Lasso Tool (L) again and right-click on the selection. Choose Make Work Path and use the same Tolerance as before (2.0).

Creating a new selection and a new Work Path

Step 15

Go to the Paths panel and right-click on the Work Path, and then select Stroke Path with the same settings as before. After that, convert the Sketch Contour 1 layer to a Smart Object and change its Opacity to 50%. Then go to Filter > Distort > Wave and use these settings:

  • Number of Generators: 1
  • Minimum Wavelength: 1
  • Maximum Wavelength: 241
  • Minimum Amplitude: 1
  • Maximum Amplitude: 5
  • Horizontal Scale: 100%
  • Vertical Scale: 100%
  • Type: Sine
  • Undefined Areas: Repeat Edge Pixels
Wave settings

Step 16

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and use these settings:

  • Angle:
  • Distance: 25 px
Motion Blur settings

Step 17

Press Control-J to duplicate the Sketch Contour 1 layer, and then double-click on the Motion Blur filter of the current layer and change its settings to these:

  • Angle: -48°
  • Distance: 27 px
Second motion blur settings

Step 18

Rename the current layer to Sketch Contour 2 and change its Fill Opacity to 11%

Then go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending options and add a Gradient Overlay with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Dither: Off
  • Opacity: 34%
  • Gradient: Foreground to Transparent
  • Reverse: Off
  • Align with Layer: On
  • Style: Linear
  • Angle: 90°
  • Scale: 100%
Gradient Overlay settings

Step 19

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and use these settings:

  • Amount: 240%
  • Distribution: Uniform
  • Monochromatic: On
Add Noise settings

Step 20

Create a new layer and name it Sketch Contour 3. Then pick the Brush Tool (B) and select the Pencil Contour 1 brush. After that, go to the Paths panel again and right-click on the Work Path to create another stroke.

Creating another stroke

Step 21

Now change the brush to Pencil Contour 2 and add another stroke to the same layer. After that, right-click on the Sketch Contour 3 layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Adding another stroke and converting the layer to Smart Object

Step 22

Now select the Base Text layer, and then hold the Shift key and click on the BKP Text 1 layer. With all the layers selected, right-click on one of them and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Converting the layers to one smart object

Step 23

Rename the current layer to Base Text Effect. Then go to Filter > Stylize > Diffuse and choose Normal mode.

Diffuse settings

Step 24

Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and use these settings:

  • Amount: 52%
  • Radius: 0,5 px
  • Remove: Lens Blur
Smart Sharpen settings

Step 25

Right-click on the current layer and convert it to Smart Object again. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a blur with 0.6 px. Now press Control-J to duplicate the layer, and then rename it to Base Text Effect 2 and hide the Gaussian Blur filter.

Duplicating the layer and hiding the blur filter of the second layer

Step 26

Now we are going to add a Color Overlay to the final layer. This Color Overlay is the setting that controls the color of the final effect.

Hold Control and select both Base Text Effect and Base Text Effect 2 layers, then convert them to Smart Object and rename the resulting layer to Sketch Text Effect.

Now go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options and add a Color Overlay with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Color: #242527
  • Opacity: 100%
Color Overlay Settings

Step 27

Go to the Paths panel again and delete the Work Path. After that, go to the Actions panel and click on the Stop Recording icon.

Deleting the Work Path and stopping the recording

Step 28

Open the background image that you downloaded (sketch-bg.png) and drag and drop the Sketch Text Effect layer into it. After that, you can resize and recolor the final effect as you please.

Final Effect

Congratulations! You're Done

In this tutorial, you learned how to create brushes and how to use them to create a realistic sketch effect. You also learned how to use some filters, like diffuse and wave. Although these effects have been used to add a subtle effect, they really do make a difference in the end result. And, of course, you learned how to record an action. Now all you need to do to apply the effect is to click play.

Things to remember before playing the action:

  • Make sure that the Brush Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.
  • Make sure that you are playing the action with the text layer selected.

To play the action, you first need to select the layer that you want to work with, and then you select the Sketch Effect action in the Actions panel and click on the Play icon.

I hope you have learned something useful with this tutorial. Feel free to leave your comments and results below.

Remember to check the complete action: Any Font to Sketch Photoshop Action.

Any font to sketch promotion image
Any Font to Sketch Photoshop Action

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