How To Create a Realistic Pencil Sketch Effect in Photoshop

How To Create a Realistic Pencil Sketch Effect in Photoshop

We are going to create a realistic pencil sketch effect in this Photoshop tutorial. In case you want to save yourself the trouble, I have created a Sketch Action Set for Photoshop that includes 8 different sketch actions.

Sketch actions for Photoshop
You’ll need Photoshop CS or CC to follow along with this tutorial.  If you don’t have Photoshop, download Photoshop CC.

Let’s get started with the pencil sketch effect tutorial

Open your photo. It’s recommended that you use a photo that has a white background and has good contrast. If you want to use the same photo as we use in this tutorial you can find it here. Once you got your photo open in Photoshop, duplicate the background layer (CTRL + J) and invert it (CTRL + I).

Turn this layer into a smart object (right click the layer and select Convert To Smart Object) so that we can edit the smart filters in the future if needed. Now lets add a smart filter: Gaussian Blur (Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur), around 40px. Now turn the blending mode of the layer to Color Dodge.

Realistic sketch in Photoshop

Next, add a Levels adjustment layer. Make the image darker by bringing the shadows and mid-tones sliders to the right. Then add a Black & White adjustment layer.

Pencil sketch

Next, merge all the layers into a new layer (CTRL + Shift + Alt + E), make sure that layer is on top. Turn this layer into a Smart object in case you’ll want to edit the smart filters in the future. Go to Filter -> Filter Gallery -> open the Artistic tab and select Poster Edges and set the Edge Thickness: 3 Edge Intensity: 1, Posterization: 6. Group all the layers that you have created.

Sketch effect tutorial

Finishing touches

Download a lined paper texture here. Open the PNG in Photoshop and turn it into a pattern (Edit -> Define Pattern -> Name it and hit OK). Now return back to your sketch image. Add a White fill layer under the group and add the lined paper as a Pattern Overlay layer style (the latest pattern will be at the end of the list). Turn the group’s blend mode to Multiply. I also lowered the opacity to 85% so that it’s more sketch-like.

Lastly, you can brush around the edges with a Scribble Brush to give it even more realistic pencil sketch effect.


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