Creating a "Sketch Look" To Your Renders.

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This is by no means a drawing tutorial. Sections of this drawing were created using watercolors and paintbrush, but this doesn't mean you couldn't achieve the same watercolor effect within Painter, Photoshop, or Paint Shop Pro.

Step 1

Find an image you would like to work with. Please remember if you wish to use another artist’s artwork always get permission first.

For this example I've used the Ye Sheng Yu render by Awful Soul (with permission). The only thing I changed at this point on the original image — was that I flipped it horizontally.

Print your image on plain paper, the size you prefer. For this tutorial, I used A4 [standard letter size] white paper. Keep in mind, that the larger the paper the more details, however, working on a larger piece of paper might give you problems, in one of the future steps, when the image is scanned.

Step 2

Place a thin sheet of good quality paper that is thin enough to see through, yet porous enough so that it will absorb the watercolors. Now, trace over the image with a pencil, using a light line. No need to worry about accuracy, just draw a simple “outline” only, don't try to copy the whole drawing in this step.

Step 3

Next go over the traced image with heavier lines. By tracing over it lightly at first, and then heavier, your lines will be smoother.

A special trick for this step:

You have just traced the entire image, so you know that you will not be drawing a hand instead of a foot, so remove the "printed under-drawing." Now, looking at the original image for inspiration, define your lines on the traced image with longer and confident strokes. This allows your hand to move freely.

Now is the time to add detail, by tracing as many lines as you feel is necessary to complete your drawing. At this point you can add lines in many directions to give your image a sketched appearance. Also, don’t forget to draw in your main shadow areas.

With your watercolors and paintbrush carefully add a dark brown color, only on the areas with shadows.

Step 5

Now is the time to experiment by increasing the shadows with pencil lines, or draw lines following the borders with color.

Step 6

Place a sheet of opaque white paper on the backside of your watercolor image and scan your drawing once the watercolors are dry. You can speed up the drying process by using a hairdryer on a low heat setting, being careful not to overheat your image.

In Photoshop insert your scanned drawing as a top layer over your original image. In your scanned drawing layer, set the level of Opacity to 50%, to give the top layer transparency. Using Free Transform [Edit>Free Transform] until the two images line-up perfectly.

Next, on your scanned drawing layer, move the Opacity back to 100% and click on Hard Light mode. Work with the levels to see if you need to darken it a bit.

Make a copy of your top layer [the traced drawing] and place it as the top layer. Desaturate this new layer completely: [Image>Adjustments> Hue/Saturation] with the Saturation value set to[–100] and the layer set to Multiply mode. Try different Opacities if the image appears to dark.

Final Image

That's it! Using watercolors with a variety of papers will add lots of expressivities to your image … most important experiment and have fun! If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, please post them to the comments box at the bottom of the tutorial page.

  • "No Evil - watercolour"
    — another example using the above technique

  • Patrick’s Renderosity Art Gallery
  • Original Image Ye Sheng Yu by Awful Soul [As Shanim]
    available on the Renderosity MarketPlace

    A “special thank” you to
    Guest Columnist
    Patrick Behar [trickdesign]

  • November 21, 2005
    Tags: None

    Member Opinions:
    By: 4blueyes on 11/21/05
    thank you for the tutorial! it is awesome yet simple :)

    By: trickdesign on 11/21/05
    can also find some more drawings in the:


    (All the images you'll find in both gallery are just scans of the drawings, none was blended with the original render)

    Have fun

    Ciao ! (bye)

    By: the_pumpkin_king on 11/21/05
    This is an amazing tutorial! I can't wait to try it out! Thank you SO much, and happy holidays!

    By: ErrantMinion on 11/22/05
    Excellent tutorial :)

    By: Caveman313 on 11/22/05
    wow thats a really great way to get that watercolor look, I might just try that with some of my drawings

    By: DemonMage on 11/23/05
    cool thanks

    By: evanime on 11/24/05
    I gotta try this technique of yours. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial.

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