Black-and-White Pencil Sketch from an Old Sepia Photo

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Tutorial: AKVIS Sketch

B&W Pencil Sketch from an Old Sepia Photo


The author of the tutorial David Kelly writes to us:

Here you will find out how AKVIS Sketch was used in conjunction with Paint Shop Pro 9 to create a realistic looking black and white sketch from an original 1912 sepia-toned photo showing a section of Westmuir Street, Glasgow, Scotland.

After converting to greyscale, its wide range of detail and tonal differences made it a challenging image for Sketch to successfully convert into a realistic looking black and white pencil sketch.
Original 1912 sepia photograph Result
Source image Result


  • Step 1. Opened a copy of the original photo in PSP9. Image size 1000 x 746 pixels.
  • Step 2. Converted to greyscale: Image -> Greyscale.
  • Step 3. Increased colour depth: Image - Increase Colour Depth - 16 million colours (24bit).
  • Step 4. Used PSP9's "Point-to-point" Freehand Selection tool with a "1" feather setting to carefully select a lighter coloured section of the white building's roof, selected PSP9's Move Tool, then right-click-dragged the selection on to a darker roof section. Copied this section Ctrl+C, then removed selection Ctrl+D. Next, pasted the copied roof section as a new layer Ctrl+L then used the Move Tool to left-click-drag and precisely position the pasted section on top of the corresponding lighter coloured roof shape. Two lighter coloured roof sections were replaced using this procedure. The image was then saved as a PSP file. Finally the two new layers were merged with the original background layer, Layers - Merge - Merge All (Flatten).
  • Step 5. Removed marks, etc., using the Chameleon Brush in AKVIS MultiBrush: Effects - Plugins - AKVIS - MultiBrush.
  • Step 6. Used PSP9's Curves command to adjust image individual brightness values; Adjust - Brightness and Contrast - Curves. The results can be seen in Image 02 below.
    Curves adjusted black and white version
    Image 02, curves adjusted black and white version

    Tip: Smoother looking black and white pencil sketches can be created from photographs containing lots of fine detail (like the example used here) by adding a minimal amount of blur to the entire image before applying Sketch.

  • Step 7. Added a small amount of blur; Adjust - Blur - Gaussian Blur - Radius = 1.00.
    After slight Gaussian blur effect applied
    Image 03, after slight Gaussian blur effect applied


  • Step 8. Called AKVIS Sketch: Effects - Plugins - AKVIS - Sketch.
  • Step 9. You can see the result of its default settings in the Preview Window.
  • Step 10. After inputting a few different parameter values and clicking Sketch's Run button to view the results, the following settings were found to produce the intended effect.
  • Step 11. Left clicked Sketch's Apply button . This closed Sketch to reveal PSP9's workspace containing the finished black and white pencil sketch.
  • Step 12. Used PSP9's Eraser tool to tidy up the sky area.

    Note: Although most of the overhead power cables that criss-crossed the original photo were removed, this didn't detract from the final pencil sketch effect, or compromise the image's 1912 period look.

  • Step 13. Added a light grey border; Image - Add Borders. Entered the relevant values into the Add Borders box then left clicked OK. See final pencil sketch below, Image 04.
    The completed black and white pencil sketch
    Image 04, the completed black and white pencil sketch
  • Step 14. Named and saved the finished sketch as a non-lossy Tiff image file.

    Note: Frequent saves were made in Paint Shop Pro's proprietary file format during the editing/conversion process.

Summary: As with any creative software, and AKVIS Sketch is no exception, any artwork created is totally subjective. However, with Sketch there's no reason why, when used in conjunction with a compatible image editing program, you shouldn't be able to quickly and easily create fine colour or black and white sketches suitable for printing, framing, and displaying.

Download the unrestricted AKVIS Sketch ten-day free trial and give those old, and not so old photos a new lease of life by turning them into your very own personal works of art.

How It Works How It Works
   — Workspace — Workspace
   — Using the Program — Using the Program
   — Classic Style — Classic Style
   — Artistic Style — Artistic Style
   — Timeline — Timeline
   — Toolbar — Toolbar
   — Background Effects — Background Effects
   — Adding a Frame — Adding a Frame
   — Text and Watermark — Text and Watermark
   — Drawing on a Canvas — Drawing on a Canvas
   — Presets — Presets
   — Preferences — Preferences
   — Batch Processing — Batch Processing
Examples Examples
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   — A Little Girl: B&W Pencil Sketch — A Little Girl: B&W Pencil Sketch
   — Westmuir Street in Glasgow — Westmuir Street in Glasgow
   — Sweet Couple: Create a Postcard — Sweet Couple: Create a Postcard
   — Black-and-White Image in Photo Frame — Black-and-White Image in Photo Frame
   — Dream to Reality: How to Blend... — Dream to Reality: How to Blend...
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   — Artist at Work — Artist at Work
   — Friends in a Cafe: Sketch&Blur — Friends in a Cafe: Sketch&Blur
   — Versailles: Traveling to the Past — Versailles: Traveling to the Past
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   — Self-Expression: Sketch in a Minute — Self-Expression: Sketch in a Minute
   — Two Beloved Dogs — Two Beloved Dogs
   — Orchid: Drawing in Watercolor Pencil — Orchid: Drawing in Watercolor Pencil
   — Shiny Apple: An Artist's Touch — Shiny Apple: An Artist's Touch
   — Cardinal: A Scene From Nature — Cardinal: A Scene From Nature
   — Variations On A Rose — Variations On A Rose
   — Cute Girl: а Pastel Drawing on Paper — Cute Girl: а Pastel Drawing on Paper
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   — Making Embroidery Patterns — Making Embroidery Patterns
   — Quicktime Transition — Quicktime Transition
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   — Reflections on the Garry Oak — Reflections on the Garry Oak
   — Creating a 3D Drawing — Creating a 3D Drawing


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