Ever saw an identical sketch of a famous celebrity and wondered how that artist did it? That artist could very well be a few smart filters, layers and blend modes in Photoshop. This article discusses how to use them in two tutorials. The Photoshop methods listed will convert a photo into a line art drawing – and quickly too. They are simple, effective and can take anywhere from five to 10 minutes to accomplish.
Each tutorial provides easy tools for beginners and intermediates using Photoshop CC and CS6. It can help anyone to create a black and white or colored line art drawing. Coloring can be added from the original color of the photo or solid colors to achieve quality line art.
Gaussian Filter: Black and White
First, a duplicate layer of the image must be created to preserve the original image. Then it is desaturated to make the copied image black and white. Next, the image is inverted and the blend mode of the layer adjusted to color dodge. Finally, to create a line art drawing effect, a smart filter is added then Gaussian blur is applied to the photo. Here is a quick look at what these steps partially look like on screen.
1. Duplicate the image by dragging the background layer to the “New Layer” icon, then release for an instant copy or select “Ctrl+J”. Place the copied layer above the original background layer.
2. Click on “Image” > “Adjustments” > “Desaturate”. Duplicate the layer and position at the top above all layers.
3. Go back to the “Adjustments Menu” and select “Invert”. Change the blend mode by selecting “Normal” > “Color Dodge” > “Convert to Smart Object” by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E.
4. Go to “Filters” > “Blur” > “Gaussian”. Adjust the intensity using the radius slider.
Sometimes drawings can turn out too light with low contrast levels. This is resolved by adding a Levels layer to increase or decrease the contrast. On screen, look for the Adjustment Layer menu icon > Levels to begin. Apply a Multiply blend mode and slide the opacity levels back and forth as needed.
Gaussian Filter with Color
This tutorial provides two options for coloring a drawing. Both use blend modes to sync the coloring with the other layers already in use. To work with the true colors of the image, create a duplicate layer of the original image and apply a Color blend mode to colorize the drawing. This can be easily achieved on screen based on those steps taken before.
An alternate choice is to forego the original colors of the image and use a simple solid color instead. This option uses the same blend mode but does not require a duplication of layers. Rather, add a Solid Color layer by clicking on the Adjustment Layer icon and lower the opacity to achieve a single color on the drawing.
That’s it! It is time to create line art drawings that are legitimately artistic. A significant person or place of interest just might be on the bucket list. No matter what subject is chosen, the tools provided here can yield proficient results. If only a simple effect is needed the Filter Gallery inside the Filter menu has a range of customizable preset options to quickly choose from and apply to any image.