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How to Change a Photo into a Pencil Drawing: a Personal, Simple, and Cheap Wall Art Idea

Updated on March 15, 2012
Vintage Pisa Print
Vintage Pisa Print
Monte Carlo, Monaco Photo (original photo)
Monte Carlo, Monaco Photo (original photo)

Inspiration: What makes a good subject?

After my grandparents died, one of the pieces that we inherited was a vintage line-drawing print of Pisa from their travels in Italy. We loved the print, so we framed it and put it on our wall. Due to the size of our wall though, we needed some additional art to fill up the space.

Using the Pisa sketch as inspiration, I decided to take a photo from my trip to Monaco and turn it into a sketch. Since I have zero drawing ability, I had to rely on photo editing software. Adobe Photoshop is a great option, however, I use a free alternative software called Follow the instructions below for a fun, easy, inexpensive piece of art.

Modified Photo
Modified Photo

Edit your Photo: Crop, color, and style with software

  1. Open your photo editing software
  2. Select the photo you wish to modify from your computer
  3. Crop the photo to the desired subject matter. Use the "Rectangle Select" from your "Tools" menu to outline your desired area and then use the "Crop to Selection" feature in the "Image" dropdown menu or CTRL+SHIFT+X to crop.
  4. Auto-adjust the light balance in the photo. From the "Adjustments" menu, select "Auto-level" or click CTRL+SHIFT+L
  5. Change the photo to black and white (if desired). From the "Adjustments" menu, select "Black and White" or click CTRL+SHIFT+G
  6. Select "Pencil Sketch" from the "Effects" --> "Artistic" menu. You can play with the pencil tip size and the range to get a more customized effect.
  7. Adjust Brightness and Contrast. From the "Adjustments" menu, select "Brightness/Contrast" to change the brightness and contrast of your pencil sketch as needed
  8. Save the pencil sketch


Print your Art Work: online or in-store

Depending on the size of the art work you are printing, you can order your print online or in a store. For printing in a store like Walmart, Target, or Walgreens, generally the largest size I have seen them do is an 8x10. However, online you can order prints up to 24"x36". Also, I've often found better deals online (including shipping costs) than I can find in the store. Here are some online sites that I recommend for ordering prints:

** Please read my hub on How to Save the Most Online for finding the best online savings.

Gallery of Photos
Gallery of Photos

Hang your Art and Enjoy!

After you've gotten your printed piece of art, it is ready to hang. I used a frame I already had for my piece, but it is easy to find an inexpensive frame and matting at your local craft supply store. I've manipulated several photos with slightly different styles and hung them with the Pisa painting for a gallery effect. Since the photos were ones that I took from my adventures, I treasure the art each that much more.


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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 6 years ago from North Texas

      Thank you for the info Thrifty Lady. I found some different things on the Net, but hadn't had the time yet to really look into them. I appreciate you and your friend's help because I really love this idea.

    • Thrifty Lady profile image

      Thrifty Lady 6 years ago

      Thanks for the kudos Au fait. I spoke with a friend that has a MAC and he suggested using Photoshop's free online editor:

      Once uploading a photo, there are a number of tools in the left-side of the screen where you can play with brightness, contrast, black and white, make a pencil sketch, and much more. I hope that helps :)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 6 years ago from North Texas

      I love the idea you have here! I like to make my own wall art or use something unique to create it. This sounds fantastic. However I have checked, and it is only available for computers that run Windows. I don't run Windows on my MAC. I think this is such a cool idea, so I will look into how I may be able to get around that little snag.

      Voting you UP and awesome! Thank you for SHARING!