Photoshop Photo To Sketch Effect Tutorial

Photo To Sketch With More Detail In Photoshop Elements

Learn Photoshop Elements withTutorials at Photoshop

Written By Steve Patterson

In a previous Photoshop Elements tutorial, we learned how to convert a photo into a sketch using a technique that works great with portraits, since it tends to leave out small, unwanted details like wrinkles and other skin blemishes while focusing more on the general features we want to see in the sketch, like a person's eyes, nose and lips. Sometimes though, when working with other types of images like landscape or nature photos, buildings and architecture, still lifes, or really any image that doesn't focus on people, you'll want the sketch to include those tiny details the previous technique would ignore. In this tutorial, we'll learn a slightly different way to convert a photo to a sketch that's usually better suited for these other types of images since it often does an amazing job of bringing out fine details.

If you've already read through the previous Portrait To Sketch tutorial, you'll find that most of the steps here are the same. It's really just one change in one of the steps that makes all the difference. So as an added bonus for those already familiar with the previous tutorial, at the end of this one, we'll learn how to create the entire sketch effect from beginning to end in 60 seconds or less! As before, I'll be using Photoshop Elements 8 throughout this tutorial but it's also fully compatible with Elements 9.

Here's the photo I'll be starting with, which comes to us from the Fotolia image library:

A photo of a hummingbird. Image licensed from Fotolia by Photoshop
The original image.

Here's how it will look after being converted to a color sketch:

Photoshop Elements photo to color sketch effect. Image © 2011 Photoshop
The final effect.

Not what you're looking for? Check out our other Photoshop Effects tutorials!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Duplicate The Background Layer

Let's begin as we usually do with photo effects by making a copy of our original image. This way, all of the changes we make will be made to the copy, leaving the original photo unharmed. If we look in the Layers panel, we see our image sitting all by itself on the Background layer, which is currently the only layer in the document:

The Background layer in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
The Layers panel showing the photo on the Background layer.

Go up to the Layer menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen, choose New, then choose Layer via Copy. Or, for a faster way to run the same command, press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard:

The New Layer via Copy command in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy.

Either way makes a copy of the layer. Photoshop Elements automatically names the copy "Layer 1" and places is above the Background layer in the Layers panel:

Photoshop Elements Layer 1. Image © 2011 Photoshop
A copy of the image appears above the original.

Step 2: Desaturate The Layer

Go up to the Enhance menu at the top of the screen, choose Adjust Color, then choose Remove Color:

The Remove Color command in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Go to Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color.

The Remove Color command quickly removes all color from the image, leaving it in black and white:

The color in the photo has been removed with the Remove Color command in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
The image after running the Remove Color command.

Step 3: Duplicate The Layer

Just as we did in Step 1, make a copy of the layer by going up to the Layer menu, choosing New, then choosing Layer via Copy, or by pressing Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard. A copy of Layer 1 appears above the original in the Layers panel:

Layer 1 copy. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Elements names the new layer "Layer 1 copy".

Step 4: Invert The Image

Go up to the Filter menu, choose Adjustments, then choose Invert:

The Invert command in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Go to Filter > Adjustments > Invert.

This will invert the brightness values in our black and white image, making light areas dark and dark areas light:

The image after inverting the brightness values in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Inverting a black and white image creates a "photo negative" effect.

Step 5: Change The Layer Blend Mode To Color Dodge

Change the blend mode of the inverted layer from Normal (the default setting) to Color Dodge. You'll find the blend mode option in the top left of the Layers panel:

Selecting the Color Dodge blend mode in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Change the layer blend mode from Normal to Color Dodge.

This will temporarily turn the document white:

The image appears white. Image © 2011 Photoshop
The document becomes filled with white.

Step 6: Apply The Minimum Filter

Up to this point, the steps have been the same as in the previous tutorial where we turned a portrait into a sketch. In that tutorial, we used the Gaussian Blur filter to create the sketch effect by blurring the layer. This time, we want more detail in the sketch than what the Gaussian Blur filter would give us, so we'll use a different filter. Go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, choose Other, then choose Minimum:

Selecting the Minimum filter in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
Go to Filter > Other > Minimum.

This opens the Minimum filter dialog box. Leave the Radius value at the bottom of the dialog box set to 1 pixel, then click OK to close out of it:

The Minimum filter dialog box in Photoshop Elements. Image © 2011 Photoshop
The default Radius value of 1 pixel usually works great.

The photo is instantly converted into a sketch with lots of fine detail, much more than what we could have achieved with the Gaussian Blur filter:

The photo has been converted into a sketch with the Minimum filter. Image © 2011 Photoshop
The initial sketch with lots of detail.

Next, we'll darken the sketch lines, colorize it, and learn how to complete the entire effect in 60 seconds or less!

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