Sketching Myself

Sometimes I pick a friends profile picture on Facebook and imitate it. My initial thought was that I would do this frequently and then post a collection, but I didn’t really have the motivation to keep it going so I’ll just post the pictures I think ended up interesting. I will extend this to profile pictures that are also entirely original, some of which I have already posted here as photographic projects.

I made the one you see to the left in March last year, and it is indeed the imitation of the profile picture of a friend though the idea itself is nothing original. It was actually a bit tricky but the end result had me satisfied. I think the process was mostly derived from pure experimentation, as it goes, but I will describe the final construction of the image.

  1. Take a suitable self portrait and open it in Photoshop.
  2. Copy the base layer and mask out the hand with the pencil to have it on top.
  3. Convert the base layer to black and white.
  4. Make a copy of the base layer, invert it, add a strong blur and set the blending mode to color dodge. This will burn out the image.
  5. Add a white layer with low opacity to fade it slightly.
  6. Mask out any unwanted background details, keep only the portrait.
  7. Add a gradient fade from white to a dark color, use the blending mode multiply and pull down the opacity until it looks like the shade of a paper that is being photographed. I faded it from white top left to a dark brown bottom right.
  8. Add a curves adjustment layer to adjust the contrast. To simulate a pencil drawing I flattened the blacks and the highlights and kept the details in the midtones.
  9. Make a selection of the mask of the hand layer, fill a new layer and put a drop shadow with a dark color from the hand. This helps emulating light reflecting off the paper onto the hand and back. Then zero the fill opacity and put it below the hand layer. If you have extracted the hand without a mask simply add the drop shadow directly to the layer.
  10. Finally adjust the brightness of the entire image, avoid pure white to make it look less fake.

Writing this I realize you will have to be fairly familiar with the functions in Photoshop to follow these simplified steps. If you have any questions or want me to go into more detail just drop me a message or add a comment :)

Update: I decided to include an image to show the different steps, and I do realize they are very similar to each other. Most of the actions are minor adjustments and tweaks that you could do in many different ways, but I just couldn’t leave the post with no description at all could I :)

It is probably step number four that is the hardest to figure out, the rest is fairly standard tweaking.

About Andreas Aronsson

Professional app- & web-developer. Spare time multimedia experimenter, VR-enthusiast, motorcyclist. In Sweden.
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6 Responses to Sketching Myself

  1. ZackDark says:

    I don’t think I got what all that tweaking in PS was for…

    Was it to make the image simulate an actual real-life sketch? Or did you sketch over the final image? Or none of the previous options?

  2. All the tweaking was done to make it look as authentic as possible :) It is all photoshopped work based on a photograph to make it look like I have drawn myself. I included a picture at the bottom that shows all the steps and you’ll notice that many of them are very minor adjustments.

  3. ZackDark says:

    Hah! I hadn’t realized your hand was also in the original!

  4. IIAOPSW says:

    Can you do a zoom out where your “sketched” arm slowly becomes your “real” hand?

    like Escher’s “drawing hands”

  5. ZackDark says:

    I don’t see how that would work on this particular picture, but shouldn’t be particularly hard to do. Only trouble that might arise would be on the transition from sketch to “real”, since it wouldn’t be as sudden as it was on this picture here (which means there wouldn’t be a clear, pixel-perfect line to apply the effects on).

  6. Actually the original photograph is framed so that you cannot see the arm connected to my body. For planned photo manipulations I want as much resolution as possible to work with so I have few wasted pixels, meaning I did not get much more inside the borders than what you see :)

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