I have a similar question to this one, however, I'm looking for something that works on photos and text alike (basically, anything, and not just letters/characters/text).

I'm looking for a function inside Photoshop that transforms an image into the main outlines of all the shapes present in the original image. Sort of like a "chalk outline" function/feature that (likely) uses contrast between two surfaces/textures/colors/etc. and that can figure out how to trace/stencil everything in the image. Ideally this would convert the image to black + white, with a white background and black outlines of all the shapes present in the image.

Does Photoshop have anything like this?

  • 1
    Could you clarify if you are looking for paths or pixels?
    – Ryan
    Aug 11, 2016 at 0:46
  • Thanks @Ryan (+1) - pixels, paths, vectors...for my use case it doesn't really matter, so long as the final result is the 'chalk outline' effect on all/most shapes in the image. And, if multiple options are possible, I'd be curious to know when to go with each option (best practices, etc.). Thanks again!
    – smeeb
    Aug 11, 2016 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


Here's my suggestion. Hard to know if it'll be what you're looking for exactly but should get you close:

  1. Convert your image to grayscale
  2. Median filter - not sure your image but I'd only do this to photos. If you're image combines photos and graphic elements probably best to clip this to the photo portions.
  3. Posterize
  4. Find Edges
  5. Levels to push it to pure black and white
  6. Select color range -> Shadows
  7. Convert to Working Path
  8. Stroke with different brushes until you find the one you like

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