Fix an Old Photo

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Photo to Colored Pencil Sketch
with Bonus Video Tutorial
Photoshop Training

Have you ever wondered how to turn your photos into a nice drawing that looks like it was done by hand? I was at a friends house the other night, and he had some nice portrait sketches of his family on the wall. They looked incredibly lifelike, and I asked who the artist was. He told me that he did it in Photoshop. Nice. He showed me how to do it, and I decided this would be a good tutorial for the site. If you prefer, check out the Photo to Sketch Video Tutorial.

If you want your finished sketch to have color in it, you will need to start with a color photo using this technique. Other wise your drawing will be black and white which actually is sometimes preferable.

This is the photo I am going to turn into a pencil sketch.

First we will need to duplicate the layer. Select Layer/Duplicate Layer, and name the layer "Black and White". Next we need to get rid of all the color from this layer. Select Image/Adjustments/Desaturate. You should end up with a black and white layer on top of your color layer.

Duplicate this layer, and name it "Top". Your layers pallete should now look something like this.

On the "Top" layer select Image/Adjustments/Invert. This will make your top layer into a negative.

On this same layer set the blending mode to Color Dodge.

Your document should now look white. Here is where the pencil sketch action comes into play. Select Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. You will have to adjust the radius slider until you get the effect you are looking for. For my sketch drawing I used a radius of 3.5 pixels, and this is what I came up with.

Now that looks pretty slick to me! If you are just looking for a pencil sketch with no color you are done. However if you would like to add some color to your drawing, there is just one more easy step. We can use the color that we already have from the original photo. All you have to do is reduce the opacity on the "Black and White" layer a bit to let a little color come through from the botom layer. Around 75% or so depending on how much color you are looking for.

And finally, our finished photo to colored sketch drawing.