Learning Paths

Create a Quick Colour “Sketch” in Photoshop

This is a quick-brew Photoshop technique that you can also use as the basis for further development or is sometimes fine straight out of the box. The key to success with the technique is to introduce some difference between two otherwise identical layers – we are going to use blur but I have seen it work well with other filters – and using one of the newer blend modes: Divide.

(NOTE: Click on the thumbs to see a large view.)

Getting Layered

Open up your image and make a new layer via copy (Cmd-J on the Mac, Ctrl-J on Windows) or if you’re feeling old-school drag the background onto the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel). Set the blend mode for this later to Divide.

Blurry Sharpness

Dial in some blur – I’m using Gaussian Blur here (Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with a value of 12px but you’ll find that the amount is the key to varying the result. Just a tip but the smart money here would turn this layer into a Smart Object so you could revisit the filter as often as you like to experiment without undoing all the time.

Bam! Let’s Crank It Up A Notch

Taking this up a step you could now use the combined result and apply a filter to develop it further. Select all of your layers and convert them to a Smart Object (Convert to Smart Object can be found in the Layers Panel’s menu) then try a filter like Angled Strokes or Crosshatch. If you did convert this to a Smart Object you could maybe change the blending mode of the filter to further enhance the effect.

Tony’s Pro Shortcuts

Want to speed things up a little bit? Try these pro shortcuts:

Select the Move Tool with the V key (it will need to be selected for a couple of the next shortcuts to work)

Jump a duplicate layer by using (Cmd-J on the Mac, Ctrl-J on Windows)

While there’s no keyboard shortcut for the Divide blend mode, you could use Shift+Alt+U (Hue) followed by Shift-Minus (cycle back thropugh blend modes) – remember that you need the Move Tool selected to use these shortcuts.

If you’re taking it up a notch, You could also use Shift+Alt+Comma to select all layers (prior to converting to Smart Object)