Elements Line Drawing
An Elements line drawing is really easy to do and they look great.
This tutorial is really useful for those of you who can't draw and wish
you could - people like me, for instance. Don't know about you
but it mystifies me when someone takes my Wacom pen and draws a person
or an animal or a face without any effort at all.
How do they do that?
OK - back to the tutorial - just imagine how proud you'll be when you
show someone special in your life a line drawing of them that you
created all on your own. Ah - life's good!
An Elements line drawing is a simple 4 step technique you can use with
pretty much any photo.
Choose an image to work with and load it into Photoshop Elements (any
version of the program). Here's the one I've chosen - it's a shot
of my youngest Miniature Bull Terrier, LIbby ...
Duplicate the Background Layer by dragging it onto the new Layer Button
at the bottom of the Layer palette. Activate the new layer and
convert it to black and white by selecting Enhance > Convert to Black and White ...
Duplicate the black and white
layer - now there are three layers - two black and white and the
original Background layer.
With the black and white layer still activated we're going to invert it
by pressing Ctrl-I (Windows)
or Cmd-I (Mac). It looks
kind of odd but it's coming along nicely.
Now change the Blending Mode of the black and white layer to Color Dodge.
Yikes - everything disappeared and that's a good thing.
There are two choices for finishing the project and it's best to try
both of them to see what works best.
Go to Filter > Blue > Gaussian
Blur ... and make sure Preview is checked so you can see what is
the slider around and watch what happens. Stop when you like what
you see and make a mental note (or written if your memory is short) of
Blur Line Drawing
Cancel out of Gaussian Blur.
Go to Filter > Other >
Minimum ... and make sure Preview is checked so you can see what
is happening with this filter.
the radius to 1 pixel and with the 1 highlighted start pressing the up
arrow on your keyboard and keep an eye on the canvas. This filter
can be unpredictable so go slowly.
It often creates spectacular results and just as often thing start
getting blocky and ugly.
Now you've got a choice to make - did you like the results of the
Gaussian Blur or the Minimum Filter best?
Typically, I find the Minimum Filter produces the best results.
Now that you've chosen one of the two filters go ahead and fine tune it
to your liking and you're done - well - almost done.
Make sure the top layer is activated and go to Layers > Merge Down. Now
you should have the top two layers combined sitting on top of the
Background layer. You can stop here if you wish - but why because
Now the real fun begins because there are so many different things that
you can do to enhance your Elements line drawing!
Line Drawing Enhancements
There are lots of cool things you can do to enhance your Elements Line
Drawing so let's take a look at them ...
You've got two layers - the Background and the Background Copy.
Change the Blend Mode of the Background Copy to Luminosity and some of
the color from the Background layer will appear.
Modifying the Elements Line drawing with a Levels Adjustment Layer can
make a big change.
And this is how the line drawing looks after the Levels adjustment ...
That one made quite a difference, didn't it. The Levels
Adjustment can also be done after changing the Blend Mode to Luminosity.
Trying out all of the different filters in the Filter
Gallery (Filter > Filter Gallery ...)
may keep you occupied for some time.
There are six Folders and they are just chock full of interesting
filters (except Stylize which has but one lonely filter).
The most effective, at least to me, is the Texturizer in the Texture
There are four filters in the Texturizer - Brick, Burlap, Canvas and Sandstone - and each one of them can
be adjusted in a variety of
What they do is put a texture on your Elements Line Drawing and they
look great. Try them all on your Elements line drawing - you'll
like the results.
Heres's Libby again with the preceding three embellishments added
(Luminosity, Levels and the Canvas Texture).
This looks like an improvement on the straight conversion, don't you
A Different Look
This section may be a bit more complicated if you're a new Elements
It occurred to me as I was working through this Elements
line drawing tutorial that there was one thing I really didn't like -
that rather thick and distracting black line surrounding
Libby. The line is a feature of the Minimum filter and if
the adjustment is low enough to eliminate it then a lot of the detail
As I pondered about it I thought that perhaps the thick black line
could be erased.
It worked to some extent - the thick black line became a thick gray
line. Better, but not perfect and we're certainly striving for
As I was erasing that annoying black line with my Wacom tablet another
thought hit me like a thunderbolt - can I trace the Elements line
Of course - it is an easy thing to do and offers even more options!
This is how its done ...
Add two new layers on the top of the stack. The top
layer will be for tracing and the other will be filled with white.
The white layer can be turned off and on so you can easily see the
progress of your tracing.
Grab your Wacom pen and set the brush to change Opacity with pressure
(this allows for some really great shading).
Make the brush small (the size will depend on the size of the image),
set the foreground color to Black, zoom in tight on one part and start
tracing (make sure the white layer is turned off).
It's probably best to do the tracing a bit at a time. On my first
layer I did the outline of Libby - the shading will be on different
Here's the beginning with the white layer turned on to make the tracing
This is coming along nicely and it looks just like my little Libby.
Now add another layer above the first tracing layer and start the
shading of the tracing.
Now she's got some character (which she really does).
A couple more suggestions ...
Libby is a white girl and she tends to get somewhat lost on the white
canvas so I added a new layer above the white layer and filled it with
a light gray using the Paint Bucket Tool.
The only problem with this is that Libby has now become a light gray
little Mini Bull Terrier and that's just not right.
In Photoshop Elements 9 you have the ability to add a Layer Mask to any
layer and that is what we'll do here.
The standard way to use a Layer Mask is to paint with black to remove
the most recent adjustment and to paint with white to re-apply the
This one will be a bit differently using
Brush Tablet Options were set to both Opacity and Hue Jitter.
Painting on the Layer Mask with black and white as the
foreground/background colors and Hue Jitter selected in the Brush
Remember that the light gray layer is sitting on top of the white layer
and when you paint with black then the white layer will show through.
With the Hue Jitter setting and varying pressure on the pen then this
is what will happen. the Hue Jitter Setting will create a texture
of sorts and when I paint over little Libby it adds some character to
I also selected a more interesting brush (like an Oil Pastel or
Chalk). These are not simple round brushes and they certainly add
As I was painting Libby I also opened the Additional Brush Options and
changed the Angle to conform with the direction of her fur. In
some cases it was horizontal and in others vertical or angled.
Here's how things look after painting on the Layer Mask with the
Fuzzball Brush (yes, there is a Fuzzball Brush) set to Hue Jitter and
Opacity for pressure.
Now she is kind of white but she also has some texture and character.
It's probably time to stop working with Libby, however, adding a nice
little frame ad a couple of Layer Styles will finish it off nicely.
So there you go - a rambling discourse on Elements Line drawing.
It's fun and you can create some great looking art work.