Go From Photo to Sketch with Edge Sketch

Go From Photo to Sketch with Edge Sketch
December 21, 2018 PicMonkey

There’s something about the understated loveliness of a black-and-white pencil drawing that never goes out of style. It’s like the belted trench coat of the photo world: a simple yet elegant look.

Split screen with a photo and sketch of a cityscape.

It really looks sharp, doesn’t it? And to think that all it takes to create a lifelike pencilish drawing like this is natural talent and years of practice. Or, to get this look in minutes, you can use our Edge Sketch effect.

Go from photo to sketch

Turn a photo to sketch in PicMonkey with edge sketch

Follow these quick steps to practice this super easy tool.

  1. Open your image in PicMonkey.
  2. From the Effects tab on the left, select Edge Sketch from the Artsy effect group. This transforms your image into a monochrome sketch.
  3. Fine-tune the look by adjusting the Thickness, Level of detail, and Fade sliders.
  4. When you’ve got the look you want, click Apply and save it for posterity.

Those are the basics, but you can do a lot more if you’re open to some tinkering.

The Fade slider controls the amount of the effect you see. At 0%, you see the entire effect. At 100%, the effect is completely faded out. As you increase the fade, the original image starts to peek through. If it’s a color photo, this brings some color into your new sketch. This is sort of a midpoint in the process of converting picture to drawing that you can use to get a nice washed-out look.

Turn a photo to sketch in a picmonkey with edge sketch


Turn a photo to sketch in PicMonkey with edge sketch

If you want more of the original photograph in your sketch but you don’t want any color, apply a filter before using Edge Sketch. Black and White, Super B&W, and Tri-X will be great. Then as you increase the fade, more photographic details come in, but you retain the monochromatic sketched look.

Photos that make the best sketches

We don’t wanna tell you how to live your lives (and seriously, mess around with whatever pics you want), but not every image is a good candidate for Edge Sketch. The effect’s unique look can make a photo land  anywhere from “best Etch-a-Sketch art you’ve ever seen” to fine-grained, hand-drawn illustration. Either way, images that play particularly well with Edge Sketch share at least a few of the following traits:

  • Sharp, clear lines (think architecture and geometry)
  • High contrast
  • Broad swathes of the same tone

Creating sketches from portraits can be tricky — portraits often have lots of fine details and smooth contours rather than clear lines. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try a few. With the right lighting and features, it’s possible to get some great results.

You can also sketchify specific parts of images while leaving other parts untouched. The simplest way to pull this off is to apply the effect, click the brush icon in the upper left, select the eraser, and erase the effect from everything that should not look sketched.

Check out these photo-to-sketch before-and-afters and see how it’s done.

Photo to sketch: The edge sketch effect applied to one part of an outfit while leaving the rest as a photograph.


Edge Sketch effect applied to sunglasses in photo.

Beautiful, right? Just don’t go turning all your photos into sketches and then tell people you took a few art classes that unlocked your natural talent, or whatever.

Actually, wait. That’s exactly what you should do.

We won’t tell.


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This article was written by PicMonkey Staff, a multicellular organism of hive-minded sub-parts who just wanna get you the ideas and information you crave, so you can make powerful images that level up your business.