I've always envied people who could create pencil sketches offhand. This skill still captivates me. But since the ability to draw seems to be a matter of natural talent, does that mean that all those who don't possess the said talent have no way of creating beautiful sketches on their own? Fortunately for all those people, modern technologies come to rescue: there are lots of applications that will help you turn a photo into a something that looks like a hand-drawn sketch. The question remains, though: how realistic do those sketches look? Let's have a go at some popular sketching software and see what the results are.
Photo to Sketch
Photo to Sketch is really lightweight and easy to use. It is also free and quite fast – you get your results in seconds. And that's actually where the application runs out of its benefits. The program managed to ruin almost every photo I tried to process. People, animals, landscapes – it made no difference; at the very best, the resulting picture had correct outlines. The few adjustments the utility offers won’t help you either; the realism of the sketch effect in this case approaches zero.
FotoSketcher is another free solution, but it offers more editing tools than the previous one. From its menu you can choose among various drawing styles, each with its own adjustment variations, and also apply text or crop your images. It has really nice vintage and watercolour filters, but we are not interested in those. We're looking for sketches, and the results of applying sketch effects in this application weren’t impressive at all. Unfortunately, most black-and-white sketching filters the program uses add too much noise to the image. No matter how hard I tried to adjust the settings, the sketches were still far from looking like a real drawing.
AKVIS Sketch is quite a feature-rich application. Even with the default settings the program could instantly amaze you with the striking resemblance of your uploaded photo to a real sketch. I especially like the artistic style feature and its collection of presets, which correspond to various kinds of drawing techniques. By combining these features in different ways you can get fantastic results. Another great thing about the utility is the visualization of the results: as the processing of your whole image takes place, you'll see a small portion of your photo reflecting all the changes in real time, and you can move this area around and put it anywhere in the photo. When you choose among the twenty-seven included presets, you'll have a small photo of a bird in front of you changing according to the style you pick, which is quite handy. All things considered, the program provides excellent results in a really user-friendly manner. Unfortunately, it doesn't come free: the license fee starts at $72, which is quite high.
Don't get me wrong, I don’t think that using an application of this kind can get you a real hand-drawn sketch. No, not yet, not even a badly made one. Still, it can bring you hours of joy of creating really beautiful images out of your photos, especially if you lack the artistic skills but still looking for ways to make up for that.