Transforming a Photo to Pencil in Photoshop

Transforming a photo to pencil in Photoshop does not require much artistic ability. Before you start, examine the stroke patterns a real sketch artist would use. This will make the results more realistic.

Step 1: Setting up a Backdrop

First, we need to simulate a sketch pad's paper. Once you open your photo, immediately go to "Layer", "New Fill Layer", and choose "Solid Color". Hit OK, then choose a light gray in the next window. Now, click on the icon on the bottom of the layer window that will "Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer". Create a "Pattern". Find a pattern that is something along the lines of "Sketch Pad". Depending on your version of Photoshop, the presets will not all be the same. Crank the "Scale" to around 350%. Back in the layer window, set this layer's blend mode to "Soft Light" and the opacity to 35%.

Step 2: Outlines

This step establishes a guide for you later. Right click on the "Background" layer and "Duplicate Layer". Drag this new layer to the top of the list. Go to "Filter", "Stylize", and "Glowing Edges". Use the preview window to adjust the settings so that the edges are crisp and clean. Now, go to "Image", "Adjustments", and click "Invert". Then, again go to "Image". "Adjustments" and "Desaturate". Now your outlines should be gray on white. Change the blend mode to "Multiply" and reduce the opacity to 15%.

Step 3: Establishing the Fill

Now, we need material to fill this in. Duplicate the "Background" layer once more and drag the new layer to the top of the list. Desaturate this layer, then go to "Image", "Adjustments" and "Brightness/Contrast". Try a contrast of about 25. Now, change the blend mode of this layer to "Darken". What you see is what we are going to reveal in the end, so we need to eliminate the photo quality. Go to "Filter", "Noise" and click "Add Noise". Use the "Gaussian" option and check "Monochromatic". Get the "Amount" to somewhere around 12%. Now, use a layer mask to cover this up. Go to "Layer", "New Layer Mask", and choose "Hide All".

Step 4: Sketching

You are now going to scribble away the mask to reveal the layer that we have hidden below. Click on your brush tool, then go to the brush selector. Use the little right-facing arrow to find "Dry Media Brushes". Use the one called "Pastel on Charcoal Paper" then go to the "Brushes" tab in the options bar. Click on "Other Dynamics" and set the "Control" to "Pen Pressure". Do the same in "Shape Dynamics" and set the "Minimum Diameter" to 75%. Start with a brush diameter of 25px, but adjust it as you work on different parts of the image. Using the guidelines, start scribbling on the image to reveal what is buried below. You will need to adjust your opacity as you go. Higher percentages are for darker parts of the image and lower percentages are for lighter parts of the image. Mimic the pencil strokes of a sketch artist to make the illusion more effective.

This process will require some time, but rushing through it will leave the effect unconvincing.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: