Deke’s Techniques: Turning a pencil drawing into ink-style art in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke McClelland shows you step-by-step how to use Adobe Photoshop to turn a scanned pencil sketch into a digital ink-style drawing.

For his sample file, Deke uses a scanned pencil-sketched comic strip reminiscent of art he drew in his youth:

Scan of a pencil sketch

The first step is to get rid of some color effects that were created during the scanning process. Because this unwanted color is living in the Blue channel, Deke uses the Photoshop Channel Mixer to reduce the effects by mixing in greater values of the Red and Green channels. This process also creates an opportunity for Deke to darken the outlines of his characters.

Pencil sketch darkened in Photoshop

Next, he strengthens the black outlines with a Levels adjustment:

Pencil sketch after a Levels adjustment in Photoshop

Then Deke applies the Despeckle filter to help reduce the noisy edges around the drawing caused by the JPEG compression, and creates a white rectangle to cover the edge of the drawing paper that reveals where the scanned paper ends and the scanner itself starts.

Pencil sketch with noise reduced using the Despeckle filter in Photoshop

One advantage of drawing digitally is the ability to reconsider details. Before taking the time to redraw the cartoon with pencil, Deke brushes white around the eyes of his square character, who he’s affectionately named Jello, so he can redraw the eyes digitally.


Pencil drawing with hand-drawn digital adjustments

After switching his brush color to black, Deke redraws a more refined expression of gelatinous rage and reconstructs the side of Jello’s face that got cut off by the scan:

The final ink-style drawing of the pencil sketch

In the end, you get all the benefits of drawing in the real world, and refining in the digital one. To see every nuance and detail of the process, check out the movie Turning a pencil sketch into digital ink at the top of this post, or on

For members of, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie this week called Adding a graph-paper background, where he shows you how to give your digitally inked characters a unique background.


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
 Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced


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2 Responses to “Deke’s Techniques: Turning a pencil drawing into ink-style art in Photoshop”

  1. Tagmoj says:

    I like this technique of how to Turn a pencil drawing into ink… thank you

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