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This chapter is from the book

Sketch Filters

Photoshop has 14 different filters lumped under the Sketch heading. Some, such as Bas Relief, must have landed there by default. They have little or nothing to do with the process of sketching. Others, such as Conté Crayon or Chalk and Charcoal, definitely mimic sketch media. Figure 15.27 shows our sample image: one of my cats.

Figure 15.27 Animals can be a real challenge for the photographer.

Bas Relief

The Bas Relief filter uses the foreground and background colors to create a low-relief rendering of your picture. If you choose colors carefully, it can look like copper foil, hammered metal, or carved stone. It's best used on pictures that have contrasting textures, or a textured subject against a flat background. Figure 15.28 shows the result. Perhaps it could have worked better if I'd separated the cat from the carpet.

Figure 15.28 Use a dark background color for best results with the Bas Relief filter.

Chalk and Charcoal

With the Chalk and Charcoal filter, which reduces the image to three tones, you need to set the foreground to a dark color and the background to a light one. The third color, by default, is a medium gray, so choose colors that work with it. This filter can produce really beautiful drawings. Figure 15.29 shows the filter applied; notice how nicely it retained the highlights on the cat's face.

Figure 15.29 Chalk and Charcoal filter applied.


The Charcoal filter does much the same thing as the Chalk and Charcoal filter, but uses only the foreground and background colors. It's more difficult to control because there are only two colors. Experiment until you are satisfied. It helps if you beef up the contrast in the image, especially if there's detail to bring out.


The Chrome filter appears to be a close relative to the Plastic Wrap filter described previously. It's only slightly more successful. As you can see in Figure 15.30, it's not really chrome-like. Perhaps, as my editor suggested, it's closer to looking into a choppy ocean of mercury. The Chrome filter removes the color from the image as part of its process. It also adds a large amount of distortion, as you can see. This filter is more useful on type.

Figure 15.30 Can you find the cat face? I can't.

Conté Crayon

I love this filter—it's done good things to every picture I have ever used it on. Conté Crayon works like the Chalk and Charcoal filter described previously but with the addition of background textures, using the same interface you saw in the Rough Pastels dialog box. Figure 15.31 shows the cat rendered in conté crayon on a sandstone background. For authenticity, the crayon colors are always in earth tones: a dark iron oxide red, black, or sienna brown. But feel free to use your imagination. Hot pink or lime green could be just what your photo needs.

Figure 15.31 Conté Crayon filter applied.

Graphic Pen and Halftone Pattern

These two filters do very similar things. Both reduce the image to whatever foreground and background colors you set. Graphic Pen then renders the image in slanting lines, whereas Halftone Pattern renders it in overlapping dots. On the proper subject, the Graphic Pen filter can be very effective. Halftone Pattern, however, merely looks like a bad newspaper photo.

Note Paper and Plaster

I don't understand the name of the Note Paper effect. I'd have called it Stucco or maybe Flocked Wallpaper. See for yourself in Figure 15.32. The Note Paper filter uses the background and foreground colors, plus black for a shadow effect. Interesting, but...note paper? The Plaster filter is very similar but smooth instead of grainy with the look of wet, runny, freshly poured plaster.

Figure 15.32 Note Paper filter applied with a low relief setting.

Photocopy, Reticulation, Stamp, and Torn Edges

These four filters can be grouped together. Like many of the filters in this set, they all convert an image to a two-color copy of itself. The Stamp filter loses most of the detail, attempting to replicate a rubber stamp—but not very successfully. Photocopy keeps most of the detail, resulting in the somewhat confusing image in Figure 15.33. Reticulation adds dot grain to the Stamp filter, so it looks as if you stamped the picture on coarse sandpaper. Torn Edges is the Stamp filter again, only with the edges of the image roughened.

Figure 15.33 Photocopy filter applied.

Water Paper

The last filter in the Sketch set is a strange filter. Once again, I don't know how they named it. To me, the Water Paper filter produces an effect more like needlepoint, at least in the background. Unlike most of the filters in the Sketch set, Water Paper keeps the colors of your original picture, adding cross-hatching in the background and softening what it identifies as the subject of the picture. Figure 15.34 shows this filter applied to the portrait of Ari.

Figure 15.34 Water Paper filter applied.

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