Sketch Filters & Digital Scrapping

Hello all my artsy friends and welcome to the Month of May at Scrapaneers!  The Peers are rolling out a month full of fun filters and photo treatments to convert your pages into artistic works of art.  I am kicking things off with some ideas for using sketch filters and actions on your pages.  Ready to get started?  Then come on in and join me . . .


Sketch filters are my favorite way to alter photos for my digital pages.  One look at any of my digital galleries will definitely confirm my fascination (addiction) with this photo treatment.  I use these types of filters in several different ways, and on different types of pages too.  I would like to share some of those techniques with you today.  I am going to start by showing you some of my favorite ways to incorporate sketches into my pages, and then I will share some of my favorite sketch filters and actions.


Sketch Design Ideas

There are so many ways to incorporate sketched photos into your digital pages.  Artsy/Art Journaling types of pages are probably the most common genre for sketches, but they also give more traditional pages a unique look and pop of style.  I use sketched photos the same way that I would use traditional photos on many of my pages.  Take a look at these pages for some examples:


All of these sketched photos are framed the same way that a traditional photo would be framed – but they add a whole new artsy dimension to the pages.  In the bottom left page, the sketched photos fit perfectly with the design of the kit (by Dawn Inskip).  The other pages were created with more traditional kits and realistic elements, but the sketched photos added a touch of whimsy and art to those pages that just wasn’t there with the traditional photos.


Sketched photos are also fabulous to use for the out of bounds technique where the photo flows over a frame.  Here are some examples of this technique in action:


On each of these pages, I started with a traditional frame and sketched photo, and let the photo flow over one edge of the frame.  You can use this technique with traditional photos, but it looks more natural and artsy with a sketched photo because the sketch blends seamlessly with the background.  If you are a fan of this technique, you should definitely try it with sketched photos.


Another great method for incorporating sketched photos onto your page is to use them directly on the background of the page.  It is much easier to do this with a sketched photo, than it is with a traditional photo.  Here are a couple of examples of this technique:


In the Statue of Liberty page I included a sketched version of the photo on the background and a crop of the traditional photo in a frame – combining the best of both worlds!  The layout on the right uses a large sketched photo in the background with drawn and three dimensional elements to accentuate it.  I love this method for including lots of story journaling.


The last design variation that I want to share with you is altering a sketched photo.  I love this technique with photos that include the subject holding an object such as a book or a certificate that can be altered to fit the theme of the page.  Here is a recent page I made using this technique:



The frame in the photo was a certificate, but I erased the text on the certificate and replaced it with word art from the kit.  Working with the sketch was so much easier than trying to erase the certificate on a traditional photo.  Sketches are very forgiving when it comes to altering them because they are not meant to have the same “volume” as a traditional photo.  Sketches, by definition, are lighter than traditional photos because they do not capture every single detail of the original.


Tips for Working with Sketched Photos


Now that I have showed you some different methods of incorporating sketches onto your digital pages, I want to share some tips for working with sketches.


1.  Sketches make extractions much easier to accomplish.  You can make a rough selection with the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop (or even the polygonal lasso tool) and then run a sketch filter or action and no one will notice that the extraction is not perfect (like you would with a traditional photo). You should make the selection before you apply a sketch filter for the best effect.


2.  You can help sketched photos blend seamlessly onto backgrounds and make them look like they were actually drawn onto a canvas or watercolor paper background by changing the layer style to Darken or Multiply.  Be sure to play with the other layer styles too, depending on the color and texture of the background paper and the look you want to achieve.


3. You can also add color to fill in sketches by changing the layer style to darken or multiply and then painting in a color on a layer below the sketch with a soft round or watercolor brush.  I used this technique on the top right page in the first set above (sketches in place of traditional photos) to add a beige tone to the facial area on the sketch.


4.  Be sure to play with adding drips and paint elements to the areas around your sketches to add to the artsy effect.  I did this on the top right page in the first set above and the left page in the next set (Overflow Photos).


5.  This article focuses on using sketched photos on your pages, but don’t forget that you can turn any kit element, journaling card or paper into a sketch too.  If you find that you really like the sketched look on your pages, try expanding the technique to other parts of the page.


Sketch Filters/Actions


We’ve talked about incorporating sketches into your digital designs and some tips for working with sketched photos.  Now I want to share some of my favorite filters and actions for converting photos to sketches.  You can achieve many different types of sketched effects in Photoshop and Elements, but I have found that I get the best results in the least amount of time from sketch filters and actions.


My filter of choice is AKVIS Sketch.  It is a high end filter with an amazing number of different sketch effects and an entire set of sliders that give you the ability to make adjustments to each of the effects to really personalize the end result.  All of the sketches on the example pages above were made in AKVIS Sketch.  That being said, this particular filter is a bit pricey.  It ranges from $72 – $89 depending on whether you want the standalone version or the Photoshop plug-in (or both).  The Standalone version will work with any digital scrapping program (for those who do not have Photoshop or Elements).  It also comes with a free 10-day trial so that you can use it and see whether you like it enough to invest in it.


On the other end of the price range (but still excellent quality – just with a much more limited range of effects) is a sketch action called “Sketch It” by Studio Wendyzine at Scrapbookgraphics.  It sells for $4.99 on its own (but you can also buy it in different bundles with other photo actions).  I have used Wendy’s Sketch It action and it is definitely worth much more than the $4.99 sticker price.  For those who may only occasionally use sketched photos, this action is an excellent alternative to the investment involved with AKVIS Sketch.


Finally, there are also some excellent free (or very low cost) sketch apps that are available for smart phones.  My favorites are PicsArt and Prisma.


Of course, you also play with the filter gallery in Photoshop and Elements.  Be sure to check back throughout the month for some tutorials on different artistic effects that can be achieved with the filters in Photoshop.


Thank you for joining me on this journey with sketched photos.  It really is my favorite photo alteration technique and I hope I have inspired you with some ideas to try it on your own pages.


Until next time ~




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