Deke’s Techniques 016: Turning a Photo into an Ink Drawing

It's been nearly a month since my last artistic adventure in Deke's Techniques. (I'm thinking of DTs 012: "Creating a High Key, High Contrast Effect.") And so I reckon it's time for another one. In fact, I have two for you. Visitors to this site can watch me turn a photographic image into a faux pen-and-ink drawing. And members of can watch a second video in which I turn the same image into a pencil sketch.

Here's the description from high atop Central Headquarters L-dot-C:

For this week's free Photoshop technique, Deke McClelland takes an ordinary portrait shot, applies several filters (two of which he claims to never use under any other circumstances), and transforms the photo into an "ink drawing." By way of Gaussian Blur, Smart Blur (there's one), High Pass, Notepaper (there's the other), and yet more Gaussian blur, you'll learn how to take a photo like the one on the left and achieve a pen-on-paper effect like the one on the right.

From photo to ink drawing in Photoshop

I have to admit, I find these creative transformations to be my favorite flavor of Technique d'Eke. They make me want to apply these treatments to random photos of my friends and family. For more fun and creative possibilities, members have an exclusive video awaiting them in the Online Training Library. In this companion video, Deke takes the very same photo and turns it into a "pencil sketch." Here's an example of what you'll learn to make: 

The seven-filter pencil sketch effect

I'm particularly charmed by the way Deke thinks in the language of Photoshop filters and creates recipes for final outcomes that have nothing ostensibly to do with the random ingredients he throws in the mix. And yet they all come together to create a comprehensive effect in the end.

What sorts of effect (paradoxically created from obscure filters or otherwise) would you like to see Deke apply his Photoshop-brain to in future episodes? Just let us know.

OMG, you know what that pencil sketch technique just now reminded me of?

A-Ha Take Me on

Yesterday, I was such a happy person. Now I have those soaring 80s falsettos rattling around in my head!

Incidentally, the aforementioned (and now officially scary) pencil sketch technique involves turning off Smart Blur and adding Underpainting, Crosshatch, and Displace. Not to mention a few other cool tricks. Take 'em on and let me now what you think.

. Tagged with:


lines around subject

Hi Deke,
The lines around my subject are VERY wide, how do I make them thinner?????

Two solutions

It sounds like your image might be very small, less than, say, 900 pixels in each direction. So the first solution is to work with a larger image.

The second is to reduce the Radius value for the High Pass filter to 1 pixel.

Most Excellent

I used an image of a camel and had excellent results. Thanks, Deke.

Wow the video was

Wow the video was great - such a simple little effect to make the pictures a wow! Thanks for your great tips!


Awesome picture! It reminds

Awesome picture! It reminds me of those cool avatar makers you can use to create cartoon avatars for your forum profiles and stuff.

David Hockney

This ink drawing looks much like an underdrawing of the sort used by the Old Masters as the bottom layer in their paintings.

The British artist David Hockney, in Secret Knowledge (New and Expanded Edition): Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters [Paperback], asserts that the Renaissance Masters actually used camera obscura to achieve the incredible detail of their paintings.

While Hockney's thesis is controversial, by using techniques such as Deke has describe, we can effectively convert a photo image into an underdrawing, upon which we can subsequently paint either in Photoshop or Corel Painter.