Can anyone tell me how to get this kind of vector line drawing from a photo? I'm beginner and can't find any answer. Thanks in advance :) enter image description here

  • 2
    I'd suggest tracing paper.
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 5:51
  • 1
    I doubt very much that you will ever get that effect from photograph in digital tools. It is a hand-drawn sketch, and from what I can see it is drawn in a vector software such as Illustrator or Inkscape.
    – benteh
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 10:17

7 Answers 7


The image that you're showing is actually a hand drawn sketch and not a filter effect so unfortunately there's no easy way around it.

You can create similar effects using filters on photo's but never that good.

You could also try using the Threshold tool Image>Adjustment>Threshold and adjust the settings until you get an image you're happy with:

enter image description here

  • You can mess with some of the other filters. Apply some posterization, crosshatching to draw out a bit more of the sketch look. They'd need to be very subtle though.
    – Jem
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 14:22

Faux-sketch is very demanding. The interest lies in the question of what is a sketch? Often it would be drawn on paper with a pencil and focuses on the outlines of objects and some shading/texturing, like what you submitted. I have made a few experiments(top right is source):

enter image description here

  • With Gimp, Edge Detect/Edge can be a useful filter here(then invert the result) - resulting in the two images on the first row
  • With a program relying on an edge detector such as canny, you may have more power over the detection and it's possible to alter the rendition with randomness(for instance, 2nd row, variations in the shades of grey(1) or drawing two lines per edge(2)); trying to act human here(!), but achieving a balance between the information you want to keep(like the two front "windows") and this is quite a challenge. An image extracted could be brought back in Gimp, you could then select by color, then select to path. Then remove the image, and stroke the path using Brush Dynamics like I did here... The third item just shows the Artistic/Cartoon filter which can be useful in some contexts - at least it looks good if everything else fails!
  • A morphological gradient is the difference between diluting and eroding an image(see Filters/Generic). When you layer those and use dodge as mode you end up with a quick version of another solution(bottom left).
  • The final(and different image) serves as a reminder that the object, its texture and its color matter when you're trying to extract an outline.

One might as well learn how to sketch by hand!


Your sample image is hand drawn sketch. For exactly correct result you need to sketch your photo by hand in similar style. No filters, no plugins. You can use:

  1. Wacom tablet + Adobe Illustrator for creating vector illustration

  2. Wacom tablet + Adobe Photoshop for creating raster illustration and then place it in Adobe Illustrator and convert to vector. But result will be with a lot of dirty shapes and points.

  3. And best way for you - go to odesk.com or guru.com and ask there for help. This is very simple task for professional so it will cost $5-20 to you.


enter image description here

Try this trick, hope it helps...:

  1. With the photo newly opened in Photoshop, press CTRL + J(Win) / COMMAND+J (Mac) to duplicate the Background layer
  2. Press Shift+Ctrl+U (Win) / Shift+Command+U (Mac) to desaturate the layer
  3. Press CTRL + J (Win) / COMMAND+J (Mac) to duplicate the desaturated layer
  4. Press CTRL + I (Win) / COMMAND+I (Mac) to invert the layer
  5. Press Shift+Alt+D (Win) / Shift+Option+D (Mac) to change the blend mode to Color Dodge
  6. Go to Filter > Other > Minimum. Leave the Radius value set to 1 pixel and click OK to close out of the filter’s dialog box
  7. Press Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E (Win) / Shift+Option+Command+E (Mac) to merge the layers onto a new layer above the others
  8. Press Shift+Alt+M (Win) / Shift+Option+M (Mac) to change the blend mode of the merged layer to Multiply, which darkens the sketch effect
  9. Lower the layer Opacity value if the sketch now appears too dark
  10. Click on the Background layer in the Layers panel to select it, then press CTRL + J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate it
  11. Press Shift+Ctrl+] (Win) / Shift+Command+] (Mac) to jump the Background copy layer to the top of the layer stack
  12. Press Shift+Alt+C (Win) / Shift+Option+C (Mac) to change the blend mode to Color to colorize the sketch
  13. Lower the Opacity value to reduce the intensity of the color if needed.

In Illustrator, open the Image Trace panel:

Window > Image Trace

It will give an option of 'Line Art' as a targeted style.

Different customisations are possible. However the result will depend on contrast and lines in the image.


Just my 2 cents. This is by no means perfect. I was just experimenting for like 5 minutes. But that's the goal here—you have too play around with filters to get it right. There is no step-by-step. Also in this case I lost a lot of detail because the image I tested with was only 250px.

Image to drawing test


The best way to create vector line drawing is using softwares like adobe illustrator or CorelDRAW. Now for your answer here is a site that might help to create vector line drawing. http://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/create-a-nautical-sketch-style-in-adobe-illustrator--cms-20379 i hope this might help to turn a photograph into a line-art sketch vector.

  • Could you add an excerpt or quick summation of the method used? That way, your answer is still valuable in case the link breaks at a later time. Thanks!
    – Vincent
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 9:13

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