Line Drawings



Line drawings are easy to create with Photoshop even if you have no artistic talent - just like me.

This is is simple and easy six step procedure that will take any image (some are better for the technique than others) and create a wonderful work of art - well maybe work of art is a bit of a stretch but you will like the end result.

And just think how grateful the important people in your life (grand parents, siginficant other, parents, friends) will be when you present them with a perfect line drawing you made all on your own!

The first thing you need is a good photograph.

It can be pretty much anything but portraits seem to really lend themselves to the technique plus people love to see line drawings of  themselves.

The image I am going to use has a bit of a problem right at the start - there are some blemishes that need to be removed.  If you don't do this step then those blemishes will become part of the line art and that is something you probably don't want.


Clean Up


line drawings start
OK - here is the image and you can see there are some areas that need to be fixed up.

The left cheek, above the lips and maybe in the high forehead.  The forehead may be freckles and a natural part of her appearance but they may also become little dark spots in the final image.

The easiest method to eliminate these unwanted features is to use the clone or one of the patch tools, depending on your version of Photoshop.

I used the patch tool in Photoshop CS and it worked just fine.(see - you don't need the latest and greatest version of Photoshop to do all of these tutorials.  The most often used core features go back to at least Photoshop 7).

The image also has an overall red cast so I used the Color Correction technique to balance it out. Now she has really great green eyes!

Another area that needed some work was the teeth.  They area not as white as they could be so another technique, Soft Light Dodge and Burn (it is half way down the page) was used to add a bit of sparkle to the teeth.

If your project is just a quick one then move on to the next step.  If you truly want to create something to be proud of and if there are some areas that really need to be smoothed out (like this image) then some additional prepatory work is necessary because the better the original image the better the end result.

Probably the best technique is the beginning part of the Digital Makeover tutorial.

The Procedure


Just to make sure I had the best image for this technique, all of the procedures (Color Correction, some Dodging and Burning and the digital Makeover) were applied to the image.

This is how it looks now ...

line drawings adjusted


  1. The first two steps are simple - duplicate the background layer and then desaturate the image - Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.  If the image is a bit flat at this point then perhaps a quick Levels adjustment is in order.

  2. Step three and then Step four is to first duplicate the Background Copy and then change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge.

  3. Step five is to invert the image with Ctrl-I or Cmd-I - this will produce a blank white screen and now we can add the line drawing part.

  4. Step six is the fun part and there are two ways to do it.


Line drawings gaussian


Gaussian Blur


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and move the radius slider around till you find what you like.

The radius of the Gaussian Blur is 11.5 pixels.


















line drawings median filter


Median Filter


Go to Filter > Other > Median and move the radius slider up the scale until you find what you like.

The radius of the Median Filter with this image was 3.0 pixels.

I believe this is the best choice but the final adjustment method is up to you.












You can flatten the image at this point or do a few different things to spruce up the image ...



Taking It Further



line drawings layers

There are some additional adjustments you can do to spice up the line drawing image.

The first thing is the merge Background copy 2 and Background copy into a single layer - Layer > Merge Down - Ctrl-E/ Cmd-E.

The layers palette will have the line drawing layer and the original background layer.

Now change the Blend Mode of the top layer to Luminosity ...

This will bring out some of the original color from the background layer ...


line drawing luminosity


You can also add a texture to the image - Filter > Texture > Texturizer ...

This will bring up the Texture portion of the Filter gallery with four choices  ...

  • Brick
  • Burlap
  • Canvas
  • Sandstone

and each of them havs three adjustments.  This is the image with the Canvas Texture ...


line drawing texture


There are a lot of filters in the Filter Gallery - take some time and go through each one to see which one produces the best effect.



Page Links


Image Clean Up

  • Color Correction
  • Soft Light Dodge and Burn
  • Digital Makeover

Line Drawing Procedure

  • Gaussian Blur
  • Median Filter

Taking It Further

  • Change Blend Mode
  • Add A Texture

Sample Line Drawings


line drawings building
City Street



line drawings libby
Little Libby Girl



line drawings flag
Flag



line drawings gas pump
Old Esso Pump



line drawings mustang
Mustang Front











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