Turn the photo into a pencil drawing in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to turn an ordinary photo into a stunning picture. I will try to explain as much as possible all the details, so that everyone can create such an illustration.

We will create an effect that is shown on the left side of the image. If you want to make the picture more colorful, use the ready action.

To work we need a stock photo, but you can take any other.

Getting started

Open the photo with which we will work. Move on FileOpen (File – Open), select the desired image and click the Open button. Before proceeding, I will give you some advice on how to prepare the document:

  1. Your photo should be in color mode. Rgb, eightbits/channel (bit / channel). To check whether this is, go ImageMode (Image – Mode).
  2. To get the best result, the size of the photo should be between 1500-4000 pixels in width / height. To check, go ImageImageSize (Image – Image size).
  3. The photo must be a background layer. If not, proceed LayerNewBackgroundfromLayer (Layer – New – Convert to Background).
  4. To perform automatic color correction, go ImageAutoToone (Image – Autoton), ImageAutoContrast (Image – Dynamic Contrast) and ImageAutoColor (Image – Automatic color correction).

2. Create a background

We will fill the background with a solid color. Move on LayerNewFillLayerSolidColor (Layer – Fill New Layer – Color) to create a new fill layer, and call it “Background Color”.

3. Create a basic sketch.

Step 1

Now we will create a basic sketch. Select the background layer with the machines (the “Background” layer in the screenshot) and go LayerNewLayerViaCopy (Layer – New – Copy to New Layer) to copy the background layer, then move the duplicate to the very top of the layers panel. After that, press D to reset the color to standard. Move on FilterSketchPhotocopy (Filter – Sketch – Photocopy) and configure the filter:

Step 2

Name this layer “Basic Sketch” and change its blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication).

4. Create a rough sketch

Step 1

Now we will create a rough sketch. Move on LayerNewLayerViaCopy (Layer – New – Copy to New Layer) to copy the “Base Sketch” layer. Take LassoTool (L) (Lasso), right-click on the working canvas, select FreeTransform (Free Transformation) and increase the width and height by 105%, as shown below:

Step 2

Call this layer “Large rough sketch” and reduce the opacity to 14%.

Step 3

Select the layer “Basic sketch” and turn LayerNewLayerViaCopy (Layer – New – Copy to new layer) to copy it. Take LassoTool (L) (Lasso), right-click on the working canvas, select FreeTransform (Free Transformation) and reduce the width and height by 95%, as shown below:

Step 4

We call this layer “Smaller draft sketch” and reduce its opacity to 14%.

5. Create a rough sketch.

Step 1

Now we will create a rough sketch. Select the background layer with the cars and go LayerNewLayerViaCopy (Layer – New – Copy to new layer) to copy it, then move the duplicate to the very top of the layers panel. Move on FilterArtisticCutout (Filter – Imitation – Application) and configure the filter:

Step 2

Move on Filter – Stylize – Find Edges (Filter – Stylization – Edge Selection), and then Image – Adjustments – Desaturate (Image – Correction – Discolor).

Step 3

Name this layer “Rough Sketch_1”, change its blend mode to ColorBurn (Blackout basis) and reduce the opacity to 30%.

Step 4

Now, using the method described above, we will create more layers with a rough draft. Repeat steps 1-2, but in the first step we use other filter settings:

Step 5

Call this layer “Rough Sketch_2”, change its blend mode to ColorBurn (Blackout base), reduce the opacity to 25% and move it under the layer “Rough sketch_1”.

Step 6

Again, repeat steps 1-2, but in the first step we use the new filter settings:

Step 7

Name this layer “Rough Sketch_3”, change its blend mode to ColorBurn (Dimming of the base), reduce the opacity to 20% and drop it under the layer “Rough sketch_2”.

Step 8

Repeat steps 1-2 again, but in the first step we use the new filter settings:

Step 9

Name this layer “Rough sketch_4”, change its blend mode to ColorBurn (Dimming of the base), reduce the opacity to 20% and drop it under the layer “Rough sketch_3”.

Step 10

Repeat steps 1-2 again, but in the first step we use the new filter settings:

Step 11

Name this layer “Rough sketch_5”, change its blend mode to ColorBurn (Dimming basis), reduce the opacity to 18% and drop it under the layer “Rough sketch_4”.

Step 12

The last time we repeat steps 1-2, but in the first step we use the new filter settings:

Step 13

Call this layer “Rough Sketch_6”, change its blend mode to ColorBurn (Dimming basis), reduce the opacity to 7% and drop it under the layer “Rough sketch_5”.

Step 14

Now we have to group all the layers with a rough sketch. Select the “Rough Zkiz_6” layer, hold down the Shift key and click on the “Rough Sketch_1” layer to automatically select all six layers. Next, go LayerNewGroupfromLayers (Layer – New – Group of layers) to create a group from the selected layers, which we call the “Rough Sketch”.

6. Create Shadows

Step 1

Now we will add a slight shading in the image. Select the background layer and turn LayerNewLayerViaCopy (Layer – New – Copy to new layer) to copy it, and move the layer to the very top of the layers panel. Move on FilterStylizeFindEdges (Filter – Stylization – Edge Selection), then apply ImageAdjustmentsDesaturate (Image – Correction – Discolor).

Step 2

Move on FilterBrushStrokesAngledStrokes (Filter – Strokes – Oblique strokes) and apply the following settings:

Step 3

Name this layer “Shadow_1”, change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) and reduce the opacity to 12%.

Step 4

Repeat step 1, then apply FilterBrushStrokesCrosshatch (Filter – Strokes – Cross Strokes) with the following settings:

Step 5

Call this layer “Shadow_2”, change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiply), reduce the opacity to 5% and move it under the “Shadow_1” layer to have the correct order on the layers panel.

7. Add noise

Step 1

In this section we will add some noise. Select the layer “Shadow_1” and go LayerNewLayer (Layer – New – Layer) to create a new layer, and call it “Noise.”

Step 2

Hit the D key to reset the colors to standard, then go EditFill (Edit – Fill) and enter the following settings:

Step 3

Move on FilterNoiseAddNoise (Filter – Noise – Add noise) and apply the following settings:

Step 4

Now change the layer blending mode to Screen (Lightening) and reduce the opacity to 64%.

8. Toning

Step 1

Now we will add a light tint. Move on LayerNewAdjustmentLayerCurves (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves) to add a new adjustment layer, which we call “Toning”.

Step 2

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer on the layers panel and set it up:

9. Final touches

Step 1

In this section we will add the final touches. Move on LayerNewAdjustmentLayerPhotoFilter (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Photo Filter) to create a new adjustment layer Photo Filter, which we call the “Tint”.

Step 2

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer to adjust it:

Step 3

Now add contrast. We press the key D to reset the colors to standard, and go LayerNewAdjustmentLayerGradientMap (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map) to add an adjustment layer Gradient Map, which we call “Contrast”.

Step 4

Change the blend mode of the adjustment layer to SoftLight (Soft light) and reduce the opacity to 18%.

Step 5

Now we set the saturation. Move on LayerNewAdjustmentLayerVibrance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Vibration) to create a new adjustment layer, which we call “Saturation”.

Step 6

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer and set it up:

Step 7

Now we will adjust the brightness. Move on LayerNewAdjustmentLayerLevels (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Levels) to create a new adjustment layer, which we call “Brightness”.

Step 8

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer and set it up:

Step 9

Next, add sharpness. Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to merge all visible layers on a separate new layer. Then go FilterOtherHighPass (Filter – Other – Color Contrast) and configure the filter:

Step 10

Name this layer “Sharpness”, change its blending mode to HardLight (Hard light) and reduce the opacity to 76%.

Congratulations, you did it! Here is the final result:

I will give you some advice on how to further modify the finished drawing:

  • Select the “Background color” layer, double click on its thumbnail and select another color. When finished, click OK.
  • Play around with the opacity of any sketch layer to get a different result.
  • Select the “Toning” layer, double-click on its thumbnail and on the panel Properties (Properties) apply other settings.
  • Select the “Tint” layer, double-click on its thumbnail and on the panel Properties (Properties) apply other settings.
  • Select the “Contrast” layer and experiment with its opacity to adjust the contrast of the image.
  • Select the “Saturation” layer, double-click on its thumbnail and on the panel Properties (Properties) apply other settings for Vibrance (Vibration) and Saturation (Saturation) to get a different result.
  • Select the “Brightness” layer, double-click on its thumbnail and use the other settings.
  • Select the “Sharpness” layer and experiment with its opacity to adjust the degree of sharpness.

We get the following result:

Great job!

If you want to make the picture brighter with the effect of paint, use the ready action.

The action works in such a way that you just need to paint over the area where the paint should be, then start the action that does the rest of the work and gives you a fully customizable result.

Each application of this action will generate a new version, even if you use the same layer, painted over with a brush. In the action there are 15 ready-made design stylizations, including canvas, semitone and mesh texture. With the work of the action you can see in a special video lesson.

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