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How to Use Sketch Filters in Photoshop CS6

The Sketch filter submenu in Photoshop CS6 contains a few filters that don’t really belong there. That’s because many current Photoshop filters were acquired from Aldus Corporation (now defunct), and Adobe had to shoehorn them into the organizational structure of Photoshop. But no matter — they work nonetheless.

If you were to encounter a cool octopus at an aquarium, you might be tempted to sketch the creature by using one of the filters you can find when you choose Filter→Sketch.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER Image 18577493]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER Image 18577493

Perhaps a Conté Crayon effect or a Graphic Pen and Ink look would be nice. But the Sketch submenu also includes other artistic effects, such as the Note Paper look, a halftone screen, chalk and charcoal, and even a bas-relief effect that turns flat images into a sculptural masterpiece.

You can also experiment with these other Sketch filters:

  • Chrome: Creates a polished chrome effect. Use the Levels adjustment to add more contrast, if necessary.

  • Photocopy: Gives that infamous, anachronistic look (dating back to the days when photocopiers didn’t do a very good job of reproducing halftone images). Creates areas of black and white with little gray value when the default foreground and background colors of black and white are selected.

  • Plaster: Creates a look that resembles molten plastic more than it looks like plaster. The filter uses the foreground and background values to color the image.

  • Stamp: Mimics a rubber or wooden-block stamp (not very sketchlike, indeed!).

  • Reticulation: Adds texture by reproducing a veritable photographic disaster — the wrinkling of film emulsion that occurs when you move film from one developing chemical to another that has an extremely different temperature. (Think hot developer followed by a bath in cold water.) The highlights look grainy; the shadow areas look thick and goopy.

  • Torn Edges: Creates the look of ragged paper and colorizes the image, using the foreground and background colors.

  • Water Paper: Creates the look of paintlike daubs on fibrous wet paper.

Even if the Sketch filters don’t all produce sketchy effects, they do have one thing in common: They give your images an organic look that’s decidedly uncomputerlike.

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