Photo to pencil sketch

This tutorial will show you how to easily transform a photograph to a pencil sketch using only Photoshop’s built in tools and filters.

Photo to Sketch


Before and after:
Before and after

Step 1

You need to start off with a good quality image

Crop the image so you have not much more than the face

Image>Image Size – set the width to 1000, auto height

Cropped Image

Duplicate the layer

Rename this layer ‘base’

Duplicate the layer

Step 2


Duplicate the layer

Step 3

Image>Adjustments>Invert (Ctrl + I)

Set the layer mode to Color Dodge (you will see very little on the screen right now – don’t panic!)

Filter>Other>Minimum – apply the following settings:

Minimum Settings

Step 4

Set the opacity of base copy 2 layer to 85%

Set the opacity of base copy layer to 68%

With base copy 2 layer active

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur – apply the following settings:

Gaussian Blur Settings

This setting is totally dependent on the image you are working with – set the blur to whatever looks good

Step 5

Make the base layer active

Filter>Brush Strokes>Sprayed Strokes – apply the following settings:

Sprayed Strokes Settings

Click on the new layer icon at the bottom of the filter gallery screen as indicated in the screenshot above

Select Angled Strokes and apply the following settings:

Angled Strokes Settings

Step 6

Duplicate the base layer


Lower the layer opacity to 40%

Add a layer mask by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the layers palette

Select a soft, round brush and mask out the eyes and the lips to make them brighter

Step 7

Make the base layer active

Select the Brush tool, set the opacity to around 35%, foreground colour black

Paint over the areas that are showing too much colour, ie the red speckles on the rim of the hat – you may have to go over this a few times until you are happy with the result

The image below shows before (in the frames) and after painting and masking:

Painting and Masking

The finished project:

Photo to Sketch