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Photoshop in 60 Seconds: How to Create an Easy Sketch Effect

This post is part of a series called 60 Second Video Tutorials.
Photoshop in 60 Seconds: How to Properly Fill a Drawn Outline
Photoshop in 60 Seconds: How to Create Flower Brushes
This post is part of a series called In 60 Seconds: Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop in 60 Seconds: How to Properly Fill a Drawn Outline
Photoshop in 60 Seconds: How to Create Flower Brushes
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Welcome to our Photoshop in 60 Seconds series, in which you can learn a Photoshop skill, feature, or technique in just a minute!

The Sketch Effect

A sketch effect takes an ordinary photo and transforms it to a work of art—as though it's been drawn by a professional artist. Using an inverted Layer Mask and a stiff, pencil-textured Brush, you can achieve this look easily with a little time and strategy. When creating this effect, make sure to follow the traditional drawing rules of hatching and cross-hatching for a believable look.

And check out how to create this photo effect in the short video below.


Start by increasing the width of your canvas size (Control-Shift-C). In our example, I changed it to 15 inches, which is ample space for the image. Next create a new layer, fill it with white, and drag it below your image. Select the photo layer, go to Image Adjustments, and find Hue and Saturation. Adjust the Saturation to -100 to turn the image to black and white. Add a Layer Mask to the image layer and fill the mask with black so that the image disappears.

Now select the brush tool and use a flat, blunt, short, stiff brush and begin painting white strokes onto the black layer mask. Start with large brush strokes to slowly reveal the image underneath. Utilize the cross-hatching method of drawing to make this effect more realistic. Decrease your brush size and concentrate the strokes towards the center of the face or object for more detail. Then use the eraser tool to softly erase any harsh edges.

To increase the contrast, add a new Levels adjustment layer, then follow up by creating a new layer and filling it with a light gray color. Set the Blend Mode to Multiply and softly erase the middle.

And that's it!

A Powerful Sketch Effect Action Alternative

Over on GraphicRiver, there's a great Sketch Effect Photoshop action by laglanz. This two-step action takes the sketch motif even further, beyond the freehand pencil appearance of our example, to create the look of a precision technical drawing.

Sketch effect applied to antique pistols and a watch
Here you can see the sketch effect applied to antique pistols and a watch. Paint the area you want to protect, and the action creates the sketch around your selection.

Laglanz's action is very handy. For some people, learning how to sketch in order to do the technique in the video might be a challenge—this is a quick and viable shortcut. Even if you do have the sketching skills, you might need to create a sketch of a product or object in a more controlled style. This action will give you that tight, technical drawing look. This action is also a good tool because it's very repeatable—you simply draw over the areas you want to emphasize and the action takes care of the rest. Great for creating a consistent look across multiple images, especially if you're on a deadline.

As with any action, adjust the results to your taste depending on the subject matter and purpose of the image.

A Bit More Detail

Learn more about Adobe Photoshop on Envato Tuts+:

60 Seconds?!

This is part of a series of quick video tutorials on Envato Tuts+ in which we introduce a range of subjects, all in 60 seconds—just enough to whet your appetite. Let us know in the comments what you thought of this video and what else you'd like to see explained in 60 seconds!

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