How to change a photo into a pencil line drawing in Photoshop
It is a relatively easy process to turn a photo into a line drawing with photoshop. Follow the steps below which uses layers, image desauration, layer modes and a guassian blur to change a photo into a pencil sketch. This effect will work on almost any image. The final quality will depend on how sharp your original image is. If there are lots of strong lines in the original image, then this process is the one for you. Use the quick key commands at the bottom of the post to change any image into a line drawing in under a minute!
Open up the photo that you wish to change into a drawing.
open photo you wish to change to a line drawing
I have used this Coke can photograph by Cyclonebill. It can be found on WikiMedia Commons if you wish to use the same image to follow this tutorial.
Duplicate the image in the layers pallette.
With the new layer selected you need to desaturate the image. To do this go to Image > adjustments > desaturate. Or choose Shift Apple U / Shift Ctrl U.
desaturate the image
Duplicate this modified layer. You should now have a colour background layer and 2 desaturated layers above.
Select the top layer and invert the image. To do this go to Image > Adjustments and choose Invert or press Ctrl I / Apple I.
With the top layer still selected (the inverted layer) choose ‘Colour Dodge’ from the layers pallete drop down menu. (This will make most of the image turn white)
change the layer mode to colour dodge
the canvas will turn white at this satge
We now need to apply a guassian blur to the newly white layer to allow parts of the layer underneath to show through. Select the top layer and choose Filter > Blur > Guassian Blur.
Choose Filter > Blur > Guassian Blur
Move the slider up and down to find what level suits your picture. The setting for this is often somewhere between 1 and 3 but will depend on how complex your original image is.
Guassian blur settings to create a line drawing
To tidy up the image use the Dodge and Burn tools to clean up the image. The Dodge tool will lighten the pencil marks, the burn tool darken them.
Dodge and burn tools
I am going to use the dodge tool on the Coke can image to tidy up the background around the can.
Neaten up the image using the dodge and burn tools
Pencil line drawing made from the above photo
Line drawing made from a photo using Photoshop
Quick Key commands to change a photo into a line drawing:
Mac: With the original picture selected in the layers palette; Apple J, Apple Shift U, Apple J, Apple I, with the top layer selcted choose ‘colour dodge’, Guassian Blur setting between 1 & 3.
PC: With the original picture selected in the layers palette; Ctrl J, Ctrl Shift U, Ctrl J, Ctrl I, with the top layer selcted choose ‘colour dodge’, Guassian Blur setting between 1 & 3.
I have just created a new tutorial which follows on from this one and shows how to add colour to the finished line drawing to create a coloured pencil effect: