Photoshop sketch effect – ‘natural’ technique. Part III.

This part of the tutorial will include extensive use of layer masks.The mask defines visibility of the parts of the layer: areas where the mask is black are completely invisible, and areas where the mask is white are fully visible. The areas where the mask is gray are semi-transparent. Drawing over the mask allows to reveal or to hide the parts of the layer, and it doesn’t destoy the contents of the layer – that’s why the masks are so popular!

Important: before continuing, make sure that ‘Photocopy’ layer is visible.

All keyboard shortcuts are for PC. I don’t have a Mac, but as far as I know the main difference is use of the COMMAND key and OPTION key on a Mac instead of the CTRL key and the ALT key on a PC.

Click on the image to see the
Create a base for the sketch.

Select the ‘Background’ layer and press CTRL-J to duplicate it. Rename the new layer to ‘Sketch’. Move the ‘Sketch’ layer to the top of the layer stack by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-].

If you think there is too much shadows in the image you may want to use Image – Adjustments – Shadow/Highlight and ‘play’ with Shadow amount value (I used 50%).

Desaturate the ‘Sketch’ layer (CTRL-SHIFT-U).

Add some noise. Select Filter – Noise – Add Noise. Set noise amount to 10-15%, noise distribution to Gaussian and check the ‘Monochromatic’.

Set blending mode of the ‘Sketch’ layer to ‘Multiply’.

After adding Hide All mask.
Add layer mask.

Select Layer – Layer Mask – Hide All (‘Sketch’ layer should be active). You will notice a black rectangle appeared near the ‘Sketch’ thumbnail in the layer palette. It’s a mask; it is completely black and it means that all the contents of the sketch layer is now hidden.

‘Dry media brushes’
Prepare the brush.

Now we should choose a good brush. I like ‘Dry Media Brushes’ set. Right-click on the image and load this brush set (click on the image to see the screenshot). Choose a brush with a well defined texture.

Set brush opacity to 20-30%.

Please note: the mask thumbnail on the side of the ‘Sketch’ layer should be selected, not the layer itself!

Set the foreground color to white. Remember: white is used to reveal (‘draw’) the image, and black to hide (‘erase’).

Click on the image to see the
Flash movie

Now the preparation is over. It’s time to ‘draw’ your sketch! Make many strokes coming in one direction. Begin from the most important areas of the face drawn by a small brush.

Try to follow the direction of lines of the original image. Use ‘[‘ or ‘]’ keys to change brush size. Alter the opacity – from light and thin strokes to heavy dark ones. Feel like an artist!

If you are not skilled at drawing – don’t be afraid. In fact, you are not actually ‘drawing’ but instead you are revealing the image hidden under the mask. So don’t be afraid to make any mistakes.

Change the color to black to ‘erase’ the unwanted strokes. I recorded some of my ‘drawing’ – you may find it here (requires Flash player, 3.8 Mb).

Click on the image to see the
Add more contrast.

Duplicate the ‘Sketch’ layer (CTRL-J) to add some contrast (blending mode should be set to ‘Multiply’). The hair areas will become darker. But the faces will be darken too, and we don’t want that.

Set the foreground color to black (we will be ‘erasing’), choose a soft round brush from the basic brushes and set brush opacity to 50%.

Make sure that the mask of the top layer is selected, not the layer itself. Draw over the areas that are too dark.

Click to see the final image
The final result.

It is definitely not a masterpiece, but it really looks like as if it was drawn by hand (at least I hope so). Not bad for 15-minutes ‘drawing’.

You may change the color and texture of the ‘paper’ at any time. You may also work with your outline (adjust contrast, manually draw or erase some lines) and you have much control over the ‘sketch’ itself.

That’s all for this tutorial. Hope you had some fun! Next tutorials will be devoted to other styles of ‘sketching’ including working with color. Come back soon!

  1. artist brush says:


  2. Hemanta Nayak says:

    thank you very much for the above 3 tutorials.

    It really help me a lot to fulfill my requirment

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