Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Creating Pencil Sketches With Paint Shop Pro

I figured this out quite by accident. I've been using Redfields Sketch plugin for years, so pencil sketching never was at the top of my list. While browsing the forums at Paintshop Blog someone asked about a Photoshop tutorial that shows how to create pencil sketches.  So I did a little digging and came up with the answers to my own question, "How simple is it?" The answer? Real simple. Honest.

See this picture to the left? It's a family picture that I took when my sister Judy and her husband Danny were visiting. The picture looks authentic, but it's not. They are actually standing outside the Timberline Lodge, so Mt Hood is, well...under their feet. I had taken the Mount Hood picture on a visit a year earlier. Unfortunately, when my sister came to visit, it was cloudy everyday. So I improvised a picture for her, using the Background Remover plugin that comes with PSP X2 Ultimate.

Open any image of your choosing in Paint Shop Pro (this should work with several versions since it really doesn't depend on elaborate techniques).

Convert the image to greyscale.

Duplicate the image layer.

On the top most image layer, convert it to a negative image.

Change the blend mode to Dodge.

Go to Adjust - Blur - Guassian Blur - set to 15.

Select bottom-most image layer.

Go to Adjust - Blur -  Average - set to around 5. Use preview and make your own judgement.

Now, while still on bottom-most image layer, go to Efffects - Art Media Effects - Black Pencil - set to 20.

Then go to Effects - Edge Effects - Enhance More. The result should look like this: (click the image to see the enlarged view)

The image looks "ok", but there is more that can be done to it, primarily darken it a little more and perhaps adding a little more color. So I merge the layers visible, save the file under a new name, copy the image, and paste it as a layer into the picture I started with.

The pencil sketch should be the top most layer. Select it.

Change the blend mode to Overlay.

Select the bottom (color) layer, go to Effects - Edge Effects - Enhance More.

Lower the bottom layer transparency to about 35 or so.  Too much opacity will diminish the fact you are trying to make it look like a sketch, too little will leave it whitened. You want to find a happy medium.

Select the top-most image layer again.

Go to Adjust - Brightness and Contrast - Clarify, set it to 15. That's it, you're done!

The result looks like this: (click the image to see the enlarged view)

Desaturate = greyscale

Inverting a layer = creating a negative

You can use Adjustment Layers in more recent versions of Paint Shop Pro, but that's a whole new tutorial in itself.

Have fun!


  1. Very good tutorial!

  2. What did Khloe Levi say?

    Ak\lso, thanks for the tutorial. I'll use it now.

    1. Nothing much about the tutorial, but plenty about a website for legal advice.

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