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Photo-Based Art Emulating natural-media painting techniques

Tutorial: Sketch, John Buchmann sketch method II and Photoshop Photo-art action

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Old 10-22-2002, 03:37 AM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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John Buchmann Sketch Method


This method was developed and posted at by John Buchmann in this thread:

Since the method he used was especially innovative and it achieved results different from others I'd seen before, I contacted him about his technique. John graciously granted me permission to edit and fine tune his original recipe and I am posting the results here on his behalf.

DON'T PANIC: I purposely converted John's original steps into this very detailed version. The purpose of doing so was to increase the likelihood that those will less Photoshop experience than others will be able to follow it. To those with more PS background who are annoyed by the excessive detail: Get over it!

Once the base image has been created, several variations are offered for further development options. By all means experiment.

The attachment in this first post shows the results achieved by this technique.

Following this are three additional posts:
* Original image (John's daughter, three months old at the time)
* Output from a Photoshop action I wrote with John's permission based on this method
* The Photoshop action mentioned above in which will work in PS 5.x, 6 and 7.

Note: As is the case with any action or recipe, these steps (or the associated actions) will work great on some images and not so great on others.

Thanks so much for sharing at DPReview and allowing me to make this available at RetouchPro.


Good luck and keep having fun.


- - - - - - - - - -

Assumptions: The original image has been suitably sharpened, cropped and/or color corrected. Note: Since this is a photo-art technique, original images do not have to be "perfect." In fact this method can salvage images that would normally be deleted.

In the steps that follow, image or layer names (when applicable) are enclosed in quotation marks.

1) Duplicate your original image; it is seldom a good idea to alter the original. Image > Duplicate... New name: "Copy of Original".

2) If not already flat, flatten "Copy of Original": Layers > Flatten image

3) Create a temporary version of the image: "Copy of Original": Image > Duplicate... (New name: "CMYK")

4) Change the color mode to CMYK: "CMYK": Image > Mode > CMYK color

5) "CMYK": Be sure the Channels palette is visible (Window > Channels) and select the Black channel

6) The objective in this step is to transform light grays to white, while retaining the dark areas. Drag the bottom left point of the diagonal line to the right and watch the value in the Input box. The degree of lightening is up to you; use 15%-25% as a guideline. In the example image, 25% was used.
Channels palette Black channel: Image > Adjustment > Curves

7) Now we’re going to copy the result of the Black channel adjustment back to the other image. Channels palette Black channel: Select > Select all

8) Channels palette Black channel: Edit > Copy

9) "CMYK": Close without saving

10) Select "Copy of Original" image if not already selected.

11) Edit > Paste. A new layer is created above the Background consisting of the contents of the Black Channel from the temporary CMYK image.

12) "Layer 1": Rename "Black Channel Layer".

13) "Background": Duplicate. New name: "Top".

14) "Background": Duplicate again. New name: "Bottom". You now have three layers of the original image ("Background", "Top" and "Bottom".)

15) "Black Channel Layer": Hide (click the eyeball)

16) "Background": Hide

17) Image > Mode > Lab color. DO NOT MERGE.

18) "Top": Select

19) Channels palette: Select the Lightness (aka: "L") channel

20) Channels palette Lightness channel: Apply a Gaussian Blur of ~20 pixels

21) Image > Mode > RGB color. DO NOT MERGE.

22) Show the Layers palette if not visible.

23) "Top": Blend = "Difference"

24) Layers > Merge visible ("Top", "Bottom")

25) Rename "Top" to "Merged"

26) "Merged": Image > Adjust > Desaturate

27) "Merged": Image > Adjust > Invert

28) Create a new Curves adjustment layer above "Merged."

29) Drag the bottom left point right and stop somewhere between an Input values of 130 and 190. The point used for the example image was 188 (the 3/4 point on the graph).

30) Select layer "Merged" and apply Blur > Gaussian Blur ~ 2 pixels.

31) "Black Channel Layer": click to make it visible.

32) "Black Channel Layer": Filter > Other > Minimum, radius 1 pixel

33) "Black Channel Layer": Blend = Multiply. You can now see that this layer
effectively fills in all the dark areas that were previously too light, or even white.

34) "Black Channel Layer", "Merged": Layers > Merge visible. Rename resulting layer to "Merged 2." Note: Some folks may want to stop at this point.

35) "Merged 2": Duplicate. New name: "Overlay".

36) "Overlay": Set blend mode to "Overlay" and adjust Opacity to suit.

Once the base image is complete, here are a couple variations:

This will give the image more of a sketchy look.

"Overlay": Filter > Brush Strokes > Crosshatch.

Download and install the Lighting Effects Pencil2 preset here:

1) "Overlay": Filter > Render > Lighting Effects (Pencil2).

2) "Overlay": Opacity: Adjust if necessary.

For more edge detail

1) Duplicate the background layer. Name it "Edges"

2) "Edges": Apply Stylize > Glowing Edges. The settings I used were: 2/6/10.

3) "Edges": Image > Adjust > Desaturate

4) "Edges": Image > Adjust > Invert

5) "Edges": Blur > Gaussian Blur 2 pixels.

6) "Edges": Move this layer to the top of the layer stack.

7) "Edges": Set the blend to Overlay or Multiply and adjust Opacity as necessary.

VARIATION 4: Airbrush some white in parts that you think are too dark. I did it like this:

1) Create a new layer at the top of the layer stack; name it "White"

2) "White": Edit > Fill. Contents use: White

3) "White": Create a layer mask (click "Create Layer Mask" icon at bottom of Layers palette)

4) "White": CTRL + I to invert the Layer Mask (thumbnail goes from white to black).

5) Press the D key followed by the X key to set the foreground color to white.

6) Select a natural brush, set opacity to 10-20% and start painting on the layer mask. This will lighten parts of the artwork. If you lighten too much, click X to switch the foreground color to black, and paint the layer mask to darken.

VARIATION 5: To apply a Sepia-like tone.

Instead of a pure black/white drawing, I added a little aged color it:

1) At the top of the layer stack add a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

2) Click the "colorize" box.

3) Set Hue to 20; Saturation to around 10.

Good luck!

John Buchmann
Attached Images
File Type: jpg baby_buchmann_sketch.jpg (63.8 KB, 275 views)

Last edited by DannyRaphael; 10-22-2002 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 10-22-2002, 03:43 AM
DannyRaphael's Avatar
DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
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Posts: 6,300
Original Image

Nice shot to work from, huh?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg baby_buchmann-orig.jpg (83.6 KB, 120 views)
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Old 10-22-2002, 03:44 AM
DannyRaphael's Avatar
DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Near Seattle, Washington, USA
Posts: 6,300
Output from Photoshop Action

I added a step to optionally add color if desired...

Beats the heck out of doing all the manual steps!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg baby_buchmann_atn.jpg (36.4 KB, 155 views)
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Old 10-22-2002, 04:13 AM
DannyRaphael's Avatar
DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Near Seattle, Washington, USA
Posts: 6,300
Photoshop action

This action was written under Photoshop 5.5. It was tested under Photoshop 7.

The version attached may be loaded into PS5.x, PS6 or PS7.
Attached Files
File Type: zip j.buchmann (2.9 KB, 194 views)
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