Creating a Line Drawing or Pencil Drawing from a Photograph


There are a few different ways to create a black and white line drawing from a photograph in Photoshop. Here are the methods that work best for me:


Threshold method:

  1. Open a photo in Photoshop. Apply Curves as necessary.
  2. Duplicate the background layer. Apply Filter > Other > High Pass with a low radius (anywhere between 2-6 depending on the image resolution).
  3. Choose Image > Adjustments > Threshold and move the slider until you like the effect. I used 123 for this image.
  4. Add a layer filled with white below your threshold layer.
  5. On the threshold layer, add a layer mask and paint out any undesired details. I wanted a simple look for this photo so I painted out the textured areas in her skin.


Color Dodge method:

  1. Open a photo in Photoshop. Apply Curves as necessary.
  2. Duplicate the background layer twice for a total of 3 image layers.
  3. Change the layer mode of the topmost layer to Color Dodge.
  4. Invert the top layer (Cmd-I) and apply a Gaussian Blur of 5 px.
  5. On the middle layer, apply Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges with Edge thickness: 1, Edge intensity: 0, Posterization: 6.
  6. Above all of the layers, add a Hue Saturation adjustment layer and move the Saturation slider to -100 to desaturate the image.
  7. Apply Curves to remove some of the gray from the image and add contrast.


Optional 3rd method:

  • Depending on the look you want, Filter > Sketch > Stamp, can sometimes give some interesting results. With the stamp filter, the higher the resolution, the better the results.


Thanks to stock.xchng user trublueboy for this image.

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