How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial you will learn how to turn your photos into amazing, advanced sketches. I will try to explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

The effect shown on the left is the one I will show you how to create here in this tutorial. If you would like to create the effect shown on the right, a sketch with a paint effect, and just using a single click, then check out my TechnicalArt Photoshop Action.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

What You’ll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following photo:

1. Let’s Get Started

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be between 1500–4000 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be theBackground layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
  4. To make some auto-corrections to your photo tone, contrast, and color, go to Image > Auto Tone, Image > Auto Contrastand then Image > Auto Color.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

2. How to Create the Background

For the background we are going to use a solid color fill. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it ‘Background Color’ and enter the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

3. How to Create the Base Sketch

Step 1

Now we are going to create the base sketch. Select Background layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate theBackground layer and then drag that new layer to the top of the layers in the Layers panel. Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches and go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Photocopy and choose the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Name this layer Base Sketch and change its blending mode to Multiply.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

4. How to Create a Draft Sketch

Step 1

Now we are going to create a draft sketch. Go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate theBase Sketch layer. Pick theLasso Tool (L), click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Free Transform, and increase the width and height to 105% as shown below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Name this layer Large Draft Sketch and set its Opacity to 14%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Select the Base Sketch layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate theBase Sketch layer again. Pick theLasso Tool (L), click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Free Transform, and decrease the width and height to 95% as shown below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Name this layer Small Draft Sketch and set its opacity to 14%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

5. How to Create a Rough Sketch

Step 1

Now we are going to create a rough sketch. Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate theBackground layer, and then drag that new layer to the top of the layers in the Layers panel. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Cutout and choose the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Go to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges and then go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Name this layer RS_1, change its blending mode to Color Burn, and drop its Opacity to 30%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Now we are going to create more rough sketch layers using the same method. So repeat Step 1 and Step 2 in this section, but in Step 1 instead of using the settings we used the previous time, use the new settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Name this layer RS_2, change its blending mode to Color Burn, drop its Opacity to 25%, and drag it under the RS_1 layer to keep the proper layer order.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Repeat again Step 1 and Step 2 in this chapter, but in Step 1 instead of using the settings we used previously, use the new settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Name this layer RS_3, change its blending mode to Color Burn, drop its Opacity to 20%, and drag it under the RS_2 layer to keep the proper layer order.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Repeat again Step 1 and Step 2 in this chapter, but in Step 1 instead of using the settings we used previously, use the new settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Name this layer RS_4, change its blending mode to Color Burn, drop its Opacity to 20%, and drag it under the RS_3 layer to keep the proper layer order.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Repeat again Step 1 and Step 2 in this chapter, but in Step 1 instead of using the settings we used previously, use the new settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 11

Name this layer RS_5, change its blending mode to Color Burn, drop its Opacity to 18%, and drag it under the RS_4 layer to keep the proper layer order.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 12

Repeat again for the last time Step 1 and Step 2 in this chapter, but in Step 1 instead of using the settings we used previously, use the new settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 13

Name this layer RS_6, change its blending mode to Color Burn, drop its Opacity to 7%, and drag it under the RS_54 layer to keep the proper layer order.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 14

Now we are going to group all these rough sketch layers. While the layer RS_6 is selected, Shift-clickon the RS_1 layer to select these two layers and all other layers between them. Then go to Layer > New > Group from Layers to create a new group from the selected layers and name it Rough Sketch.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

6. How to Create Shading

Step 1

Now we are going to create some subtle shading. Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate theBackground layer, and then drag that new layer to the top of the layers in the Layers panel. Go to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges and then go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Brush Strokes > Angled Strokes and select the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Name this layer Shading_1, change its blending mode to Multiply, and drop its Opacity to 12%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Now repeat Step 1 in this chapter, and then go to Filter > Brush Strokes > Crosshatch and enter the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Name this layer Shading_2, change its blending mode to Multiply, drop its Opacity to 5%, and drag it under the Shading_1 layer to keep the proper layer order.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

7. How to Add Noise

Step 1

In this step we are going to add some noise to our sketch. Select the Shading_1 layer and go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Noise.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Now press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, go to Edit > Fill and enter the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and choose the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Now change this layer blending mode to Screen and drop its Opacity to 64%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

8. How to Create the Color Look

Step 1

Now we are going to add a nice color look to our sketch. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves to create a new curves adjustment layer and name it Color Look.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Double click on this layer thumbnail and enter the following settings:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

9. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Now we are going to make final adjustments to our sketch. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter to create a new photo filter adjustment layer and name it Photo Tint.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Double click on this layer thumbnail and select the following settings:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Now we are going to add contrast. Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Overall Contrast.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Change this layer blending mode to Soft Light and drop the Opacity to 18%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Now we are going to add vibrance and saturation. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance to create a new vibrance adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Double click on this layer thumbnail and choose the following settings:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Now we are going to boost the highlights slightly. Go to Layer > New > Levels to create a new levels adjustment layer and name it Overall Brightness.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Double click on this layer thumbnail and choose the following settings:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Now we are going to add sharpening. Press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a snapshot. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass and enter the settings below:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Name this layer Overall Sharpening, change its blending mode to Hard Light, and drop the Opacity to 76%.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

You Made It!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Customize Your Results

You can now customize the final effect. I will give you a few tips:

  • Select theBackground Color layer, double-click on its thumbnail, and inside theColor Picker panel choose some other color. Click OK.
  • Select some of the sketch layers and play with their opacities to create different sketch effects.
  • Select theColor Look layer, double-click on its thumbnail, and inside theProperties panel change the settings for a different color look.
  • Select the Photo Tint layer, double-click on its thumbnail, and inside theProperties panel change the settings for a different color look.
  • Select the layer Overall Contrast and change its opacity to adjust the contrast.
  • Select the layer Overall Vibrance/Saturation, double-click on its thumbnail, and inside the Properties panel play with the Vibrance and Saturation values to create different results.
  • Select the layer Overall Brightness, double-click on its thumbnail, and change the settings to adjust the brightness.
  • Select the layer Overall Sharpening, and change its opacity to adjust the amount of sharpening.

Here is what I got:

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

Awesome Work!

If you would like to create an even more advanced sketch with a paint effect as shown below, and just by using a single click, then check out my TechnicalArt Photoshop Action.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

The action works so that you just brush over the areas that you want to remain in paint, play the action, and the action will do everything for you, giving you fully layered and customizable results.

Every time you run the action, you will get a unique paint variation even if you use the same brushed area. The action will create 15 preset color looks for you, as well as canvas, halftone, and grid textures. It comes with a detailed video tutorial that demonstrates how to use and customize the look of your action to get the most out of the effect.

How to Create a Sketch Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop