Hand Drawn Effect in Photoshop

Written by joshua mcgee Google
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Photoshop is the industry standard for editing photos and creating pixel-based drawings. As more and more designs are created using computers, many designers are seeking to revert back to hand-drawn images. People often admire the skill that drawing by hand requires. Fortunately, you can use Photoshop to create hand-drawn effects, whether or not you have the drawing skills.

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Draw by Hand

The easiest way to create a hand-drawn effect in Photoshop is to actually draw the image. If you have a drawing tablet, you can use the "Brush" or "Pen" tool and draw right inside Photoshop. Alternatively, you can draw the image on paper, just as people did before Photoshop existed, then scan the image into Photoshop with a scanner. Once the image is in Photoshop, you can adjust the appearance using Photoshop's tools, such as change the colour, resize the drawing and adjust the brightness.


Perhaps, you have a photo already that you want to turn into a hand-drawn image. Photoshop contains several effects that will let you do this. The "Colored Pencil" filter will give the image the effect that it was drawn with coloured pencils by applying a rough crosshatch appearance to the edges. Effects in the "Sketch" filter menu use the background and foreground colours to redraw the image, often resulting in hand-drawn effects. The "Charcoal" filter turns the image into a picture drawn using charcoal paints. The "Graphic Pen" filter creates another useful hand-drawn effect by replacing the detail of the image with fine, linear ink strokes. Experimenting with different sketch filters may yield some great hand-drawn effects.


Verlag Martin Koch developed a plugin called DitherFree that was designed to change images into dithered line art. The DitherFree tutorial in the resource section shows how to change a regular photo into an illustrated line art. First, you will need to download the DitherFree plug-in. Then, desaturate the image and apply an unsharp mask filter to the image. Then, use the DitherFree plugin to create the final hand-drawn effect. If you want the image to be coloured, create the dithered image on a new screened layer.

Simulate Sketches

In addition to Photoshop's filters and effect, you can simulate a sketch of a drawing by combining a few effects. First, you need to desaturate and copy the original image. Then, invert the top layer. Change the top layer to the "Color Dodge" blend mode. Add a blur to create the hand-drawn effect. If you want the image to be a coloured sketch, leave a copy of the original colour image on the bottom and hide the middle layer.

Simulate Hand Drawn Picture

You can also combine the "High Pass" and "Notepaper" effects to create a hand-drawn picture effect. The image must be a simple image before you begin. Create a copy of the image and add a white background layer. Apply the "High Pass" filter and the "Notepaper" filter to the top layer. Adjust the "Image Balance" in the Notepaper filter. Change the top layer's blend effect to "Multiply" and adjust the opacity on the colour layer. Use a "Layer Mask" to clean up the spotiness in the image.

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