Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a sketch effect, part of Photoshop: Creative Effects and Filters (2012).
It seems to me that one of the recurring themes of creative effects in Photoshop is taking a photographic image and making it look not like a photographic image. In other words, we're using a photograph as the basis of the effect, but that final effect can be very, very different from a normal Photograph. Let's take a look at exactly that type of example, by creating a sort of sketch effect out of a photographic image. I'll start off, by creating a copy of my background Image layer. So I'll drag that Thumbnail down to the create new Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel.
And then from the Filter menu, I'm going to Choose Stylize, followed by Find Edges. Now that creates something of a sketch effect for the image, as you can see. It almost looks like colored penclis were used to draw this image rather than that it might have been a photographic image. But let's take this a little bit further and refine the effect. I'm going to start off by removing the color, because I think if I have just black and white, in other words shades of gray here, then the effect might look a little more like a sketch. So I'm going to add an Adjustment layer. In this case, a Hue-Saturation Adjustment layer.
So I'll click the Add Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel, and then Choose Hue Saturation. And then I'll simply take the saturation down to minus 100, in other words removing all of the color from this photo. Of course I really only want to remove the color from the Background Copy layer. You'll see why in a few moments, but to have this Adjustment layer only affect the Background Copy layer, the layer that is directly below it, I can click the left most button at the bottom of the Properties panel. That will cause that Adjustment layer to be placed into a clipping group with the Background Copy layer, so that it only affects that one single layer.
I'm also going to enhance contrast, so I'll add a level's Adjustment layer. I'll click on that Add Adjustment Layer button and then choose levels, and I'll increase the value for white. In other words I'll brighten up the bright areas of the photo so that they become white as well. I can also darken up the darkest values. I think though that I won't bring the black point in too far because that will cause the darkest areas to start blocking up a little bit so, I'll keep the black slider all the way at the far left. And then instead, move the midtone slider over to the right a little bit in order to darken up some of those midtones and giving us a little bit darker effect for our little sketch drawing here. I also want this adjustment to only effect the background copy. So, once again, I'll click the button at the bottom of the Properties panel to place this levels Adjustment layer into a clipping group with a Background Copy layer.
Now at this point, we certainly have a sketch effect, but I'd like to bring in the colors from the underlying image. I just want this sketch effect to enhance the existing image to some extent. So I'm going to choose the Background Copy Layer on the Layers panel, simply by clicking on it's Thumbnail and then I'll change the blend mode for that layer to multiply. And that will cause this layer to only darken the underlying image. In other words areas of this layer that are black will cause black in the underlying image. Areas that are white will not effect the underlying image at all and areas that are shades of gray will have a partial darkening effect. I think I'd also like to blur the lines just a tiny little bit so that we get a little bit more spread for that sketch effect.
And I want to apply that blur effect as a smart filter so that I can always come back and fine tune the result later. So with my Background Copy layer selected on the Layers panel. I'll first go to the Filter menu, and then Choose Convert for Smart Filters and then I'll click OK to confirm that change. This causes the Background Copy layer to become a Smart Object. So now, any filters I apply to this layer will be applied as fully flexible smart filters. I'll go ahead and then choose Filter > Blur, followed by Gaussian blur and I'm just going to apply a very minimal blur to this image.
Probably right around one pixel will be plenty. I think right about there looks to be pretty good. I'll go ahead and click OK. But keep in mind because I converted this image to a Smart Object, the filter was applied as a smart filter. So, at any time I can double-click the Gaussian blur filter on the Layers panel that will bring up my Gaussian blur dialog and I can adjust the settings for that blur. But I'm happy with the result as it is right now. I'll go ahead and click OK. Next, I'd like to tone down the colors in the original image just a little bit, by reducing the opacity of that Background Image layer.
This will allow the sketch effect to dominate just a little bit more. So that's a little more obvious in the image. So I'll double-click on the Thumbnail for my Background Image layer, in order to convert that layer into a normal layer, rather than a Background layer that's locked. When I double-click, the New Layer dialog will appear. I'll simply click OK in order to apply that change. And now I can reduce to opacity at the top right of the Layers panel in order to fade back my original Background Image layer. And when I do so, you can see that that sketch effect becomes much stronger in the image. I'll go ahead and keep those colors relatively subtle. Sort of creating a sketch with watercolor painting type of effect in the image. So, you can see that Find Edges filter creates an interesting result all by itself.
But when you apply a few other adjustments along the way, you can really create a very interesting sketch effect.
- Working with the Filter Gallery
- Creating a black-and-white effect
- Applying a vignette
- Adding motion blur
- Creating a painterly effect with Find Edges
- Smearing with Liquify
- Mapping the image with Trace Contour