How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

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Green, Tom. "How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015." ThoughtCo, Jul. 6, 2016, thoughtco.com/turn-a-photo-into-line-art-4060988. Green, Tom. (2016, July 6). How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/turn-a-photo-into-line-art-4060988 Green, Tom. "How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/turn-a-photo-into-line-art-4060988 (accessed September 22, 2017).
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How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

The image on the left is the original color photo and the one on the right is the photo as line art
Turning photos into line art in Photoshop is not a complicated as one may think.

Last month I was perusing some back articles here and came across one where a reader was asking how to create a sketch from a photo. The answer was the effect was hand drawn and mentioned  the effect was rather complicated to accomplish in Photoshop.

Though I tend to agree with the “complicated” aspect, there are any number of techniques for converting a photo to line art. In fact one of my first “How To’s”  showed how to do this using SketchGuru. Then it hit me, “I picked up a rather neat Photoshop technique for doing just this a few years ago.” Now is as good a time as any to walk you through it.

Essentially the technique uses Layers, Blend Modes and Photoshop filters. Though it isn’t close to turning a photo into an actual pencil sketch it produces, as you can see, a pretty good result. Let’s get started.

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How To Copy And Desaturate A Layer in Photoshop CC 2015

The image shows the Hue/Saturation dialog box above the greyscale image created by moving the Saturation slider to the value of -100.
The process starts by desaturating the color photo to create a greyscale version.

The image I am going to work with was one I shot of a most interesting woman in Northern China. The first step in the process is to open the Layers panel, select the Background layer and to duplicate it. Another technique that gives the same result is to select Layer>New>Layer Via Copy (Cmd/Ctrl-J). This follows one of “Sacred Rules Of Digital Imaging”: Never work with the original image. Work with a copy.

With this new layer selected I went to the Image menu and selected Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. When the Hue/Saturation panel opened, I moved the Saturation slider all the way to left. This desaturated the image which means nothing more than all of the color from the image has been removed. The result is a Greyscale image.

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How To Invert A Greyscale Image In Photoshop CC 2015

The image looks like a Black and White negative due to the use of the Invert command.
The greyscale layer is duplicated its color inverted.

The next step in the process is to duplicate the new layer and then to invert the image. You can invert an image by selecting Image>Adjustments> Invert or by pressing Cmd/Ctrl-I . The result is what looks like a Black and White Photo negative. As you may have suspected the Invert command is all about contrast when it comes to greyscale images because it essentially reverses the colours.

This is the important Layer because it will be used as the base for the effect.

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How To Apply A Blend Mode And The Minimum Filter

The Minimum Filter dialog box is shown over the image.
Apply a Color Dodge Blend Mode to reduce contratst and a Miniimum Filter to "choke" the white.

The next step in the process is to apply the Color Dodge Blend Mode to the layer. What this will do is to seriously reduce the contrast in the image. When applied, the image appears to turn white though there is a bit of color on her sleeve at the bottom. The “colour” hasn’t been removed, the contrast has simply been reduced. To bring up that detail select Filter>Other> Minimum.

Though the major use of the Minimum filter is for modifying masks, when applied to a greyscale image it tends to choke – shrink – the white areas while spreading out the black areas. Due to the fact the blacks are still there, applying a Minimum filter essentially brings them back to life. To see this, play with the Radius slider in the Minimum dialog box. In this case I went with a Radius value of 2 and clicked OK to apply the filter.

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How To Merge Layers And Apply A Multiply Blend Mode

The Multiple Blend Mode is applied to the merged layer.
merge Viusible Layers and apply a Multiply blend mosde to achieve the final result.

The final step in this process is all about adding detail and contrast. The first step is to turn off the visibility of the Background layer. You don’t need it.

What I do is to select the top layer and, with the Alt/Option key pressed, I select Layer>Merge Visible. The Modifier key is important. If you don’t press it and select Merge Layers the two greyscale layers will essentially flatten into one layer. By using the Alt/Option modifier you are creating a New Layer that is the result of merging the two greyscale image layers under it.

Select your new Layer and apply the Multiply Blend Mode. What this mode does is to add together the colour values of the pixels above each other and divides the result by 256. The end result is always a darker image, In this case more detail is revealed. I tend to find this effect to be a bit strong so I usually reduce the Blend Opacity value to around 80%.

From here, you can flatten the layers to create the image.

Format
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Your Citation
Green, Tom. "How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015." ThoughtCo, Jul. 6, 2016, thoughtco.com/turn-a-photo-into-line-art-4060988. Green, Tom. (2016, July 6). How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/turn-a-photo-into-line-art-4060988 Green, Tom. "How To Turn A Photo Into Line Art In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/turn-a-photo-into-line-art-4060988 (accessed September 22, 2017).