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How to convert a photo to a colored pencil sketch with Photoshop

Lesa Snider | Jan. 15, 2015
One of the most frequently asked questions posed to seasoned Photoshop pros is how to turn a photo into a pencil sketch. While there are many ways to get it done, this particular technique, which requires Photoshop CS5 or later, produces a remarkably realistic result and gives you lots of flexibility for colorization...without harming your original photo.

7. Colored pencils

To create a solid-colored sketch and/or adjust the saturation of the colors in your sketch, reach for a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and click OK in the resulting dialog box. In the Properties panel that opens (it's named the Adjustments panel in CS5), turn on the Colorize checkbox near the bottom of the panel to create a solid colored sketch. Experiment with the Hue slider to find a pleasing color. If you just want to reduce the saturation of your sketch, leave the Colorize checkbox turned off and drag the Saturation slider slightly leftward.

8. Ta-da!

Save your masterpiece by choosing File > Save As and choosing Photoshop from the Format menu. This maneuver preserves your layers for future editing (say, if you want to change colors later on). If you want to email or post your sketch online, create another copy by choosing File > Save for Web. For the highest quality, choose PNG — 24 from the file format menu at upper-right and then turn off the Transparency checkbox. If your photo is big, reduce its size by entering a new width (or height) into the image size fields at lower right. Choose Bicubic Sharper from the Quality menu and then click Save.

As you can see, this technique takes a little time, but the results are well worth it. Until next time, may the creative force be with you all.


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