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Do you love the look of a pencil sketched portrait, but work better with a mouse or trackpad than you do with pencil and paper? Well now you can achieve that perfect, hand-drawn look while keeping your workspace clean of those annoying lead smudges and erasers shavings. All you need is a little help from Photoshop. If you’re new to Photoshop and want to experiment with some creative editing, this is the perfect tutorial to start with. Creating a half sketch effect with a classic portrait is a great way to familiarize yourself with some of the most basic and useful tools in Photoshop.

First, open your original image in Photoshop. The half sketch look often works best with a symmetrical portrait because the contrast between the black and white effect and the color image will really pop.

To start, duplicate the background layer and convert the new layer to a smart object by right clicking on the layer and selecting Convert to Smart Object. 

Then, go to File > Adjustments and select Black and White. Keep all of the default settings the same and click OK. Make sure there’s a solid range of blacks, whites and grays in the image. If the picture has too much contrast without a good range of mid-tones, there won’t be a lot of detail in the sketch version. Adjust the contrast using levels.

Make sure the foreground is set to black and the background set to white (in the bottom left corner).

Next, go to File > Filter > Filter Gallery, and select the Colored Pencil effect. This is where the sketching fun begins! Pay close attention to the half of the image you want to have the pencil drawn effect.

Turn the Paper Brightness all the way up to 50 and play around with the Pencil Width and Stroke Pressure until you find a combination that works for your photo. In this example, the Pencil Width is set to 5 and the Stroke Pressure is set to 11, but the settings will be different for each image. Once you find a combination that you like, click OK.

Duplicate the background one more time and drag that layer to the top. Add a mask by clicking on the small, rectangular box with the circle inside of it at the bottom right corner. Again, make sure the foreground is black and the background is white by checking the two boxes in the bottom left corner.

Click the brush tool and select a large, round brush with soft edges. Make sure the opacity is turned up to 100 percent and mask out the half of the portrait you want to have the sketch effect.

Hold down Option and click on the mask in the layers panel to make sure you completely covered one half of the image. Fill in any gaps you missed until one half of the image is completely black and the other is completely white. Hold Option and click the mask again to return to the picture.

Next, click on the brush tool again and select one of the sketch brushes at the bottom of the palette. Experiment with different brushes and sizes until you achieve the sketch effect you like best. Pay close attention to the way the sketch marks look at the center where the black and white meets the color image.

Keep sketching until you achieve the perfect blend!

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