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Go from digital image to stunning pencil sketch in 3 quick steps

Added on Friday 18th of September 2009 08:22 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



You don’t have to be a world-class illustrator to create detailed pencil drawings in Photoshop. We’ll show you an easy 3-step drawing technique that will impress your friends—and your clients!


Have you ever looked at a pencil drawing only to do a double take and say in amazement, “That’s a drawing? It looks like a photo!” Graphite pencil artists take a lot of time perfecting their techniques, but we’ll show you how to create that same amazing look in Photoshop in a fraction of the time. And best of all, you won’t have to worry about keeping your pencils sharp or smudging your drawing!


Download: To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file pencilsketch.psd, launch Photoshop, and open the file shown in the Figure A.




Step 1: Desaturate your image

Many pencil artists draw on a smooth surface vellum or bristol board, so we’ll mimic that look. Our goal is to achieve a full value range with adequate white space, deep dark shadows, and all the values between. Since graphite pencils are black, we’ll need to remove all the color from our image. 


To desaturate the image:

1.       Duplicate the Background layer.

2.      Rename the duplicate layer Grayscale.

3.      Select Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

4.      Choose Image > Adjustments > Levels to display the Levels dialog box.

5.      Move the middle slider slightly to the right, as shown in Figure B, to achieve a full tonal range, as shown in Figure C. Note: Different images will require different (if any) tonal adjustments. Adjust this setting to your satisfaction.





Step 2: Add the line work

When a beginner artist draws, almost everything contains an outline. As an artist progresses, he will begin to f...


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