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Cool and Easy Sketch/Cut-out Effect in Photoshop

Sometimes I need to make some icons that have a unique look to them, but I am required to use some source photography to create it.  For this project, I needed something that looked like a pen sketch, but had a nice "sticker-like" quality to it.  I came up with a really simple and easy way to process each photo quickly to create the icons.

First, our source image:

It could be anything, but luckily this had a white background so I won't have to do a lot to actually cut it out.

Next, you want to duplicate your layer, and apply color dodge in the layer control.


Next, we want to invert our layer by going to Image-> Adjustments -> Invert.

Then, move up to Filter-> Other-> Minimum and create the sketch effect. A 1 or 2 should be fine, the larger the number the heavier the effect.


At this point you can see, our Layer 1 copy is making the sketch effect appear over Layer 1.

Next, we'll make an easy cutout of the picture.  Since my background is all white, this next process will work well.  If your background is busy, you may have to use the lasso tool or quick selection tool to make your cutout marquee.

First, select the Layer 1 copy (that had the sketch effect on).  I then use the magic wand set at tolerance: 32 with antialias checked, and click on the background area.


Then, go up to Select-> Modify-> Contract 

Set the Contract by to 3, and click OK.




 You should now have a marquee around the background area that has a nice buffer around the image.  Invert the selection by pressing Shift+Ctrl+I and then copy the selected visible area into a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+C then Ctrl+V.  You should now have a cutout of the image on the top layer.


Next, click the visibility icons on the layers we aren't using-- Layer1 copy and Layer1.

Then right click the Layer 2 and modify the Blending Options...

For my example, I'll set the Stroke to size 8 and color white,  but you can adjust this as necessary.


Then I'll set the Drop Shadow to 120 degrees, 5px distance, 38% spread, and 18px for size.  These will depend on your image and how deep you want the cutout to raise off the page.

At this point the icon is mostly set up.  If you wanted it to appear in natural color, you could stop right here.  However, I wanted mine to be black and white, so I'll add one more filter.

I'll add a Color Overlay and set the blend mode to Color, and pick black.


And there you have it!  A nice sketch look from the photo, with a cutout effect.   The effect of the sketch will change depending on the image size that you start with.  The smaller the image, the more pronounced the sketch effect will look.


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