Convert photo to pencil sketch and drawings [Best Tools]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • If you ever wondered how to turn your photos into sketches or drawings, this article is for you.
  • We've prepared a list of photo editors that can help you do that in just a few clicks. One of the best tools for the job is Adobe Photoshop. Check it out, along with the other tools, in the list below.
  • If you want to know more about photo editing and the tools involved, take a look at our special Photo Editor section. Don't forget to bookmark it in case you'll need it later.
  • For many more useful articles like this one, check out our dedicated Graphics & Design Software Hub.
convert picture to sketches software
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Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite photo into a piece of art that looks like it was manually sketched ?  This type of effect makes the elements of the image pop out more, and has that characteristic sketch look.

In order to achieve that look, sometimes the guidance lines are visible, you can see the ”artist’s” smudging of the paper, like the resulting piece of art was hand drawn using either charcoal or pencils .

Fortunately for you, you don’t have to start taking drawing classes and then spend more time until you actually learn how to do it properly.

In order to obtain a professional looking result, the best option is to use specialized computer software that analyzes all pixels and color gradients found in your photo, and then transforms them into a sketch-like result.

Because there are a wide range of services relating to this topic on the Internet, it can become frustrating to try every option out. That’s why, in this article, we will explore some of the best  software options that allow you to transform any of your pictures into sketches in just a few clicks.

Turn your pictures into sketches with these tools

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop CC 2020 convert photo to pencil sketch

If you’re into graphic design, photo editing or any other image manipulation process, Adobe Photoshop should always be your first choice.

This software tool is used by millions worldwide. It’s easy to use but it also has some advanced features that come in handy for complex projects. That’s why amateurs and professionals prefer it over other tools.

Photoshop is also great if you want to convert photos to pencil sketch and drawings. Furthermore, it has an incredible array of brushes, filters and photo effects that can help you take your editing to the next level.

Let’s take a look at some other useful features that you can find in Photoshop:

  • Content-Aware Fill lets you cut distracting parts of your image
  • A multitude of brushes to choose from
  • Customizable work space with easy-to-use options
  • Advanced editing features for professional results
  • Frame tools, slicing tools, magic wand, symmetry mode, and many others

 Download Adobe Photoshop free

SoftOrbits Sketch Drawer

SoftOrbits Sketch Drawer - picture to sketch

Sketch Drawer from SoftOrbits is a great software option that allows you to easily transform your digital pictures into amazing works of art with a sketch look.

This software analyzes your image and then,if you choose to do so, can convert all the colors into a colorful sketch, by transforming every pixel into a pencil stroke. This process allows you to obtain great sketches by just using a few clicks and moving some sliders.

Sketch Drawer contains a wide range of presets that allow you to apply any desired effect – black and white sketch, watercolor, color sketch; and this software also allows you to batch process a large number of files in one go.

Find out more information on Softorbits’ official website or try it now by downloading the trial version.

 Download now SoftOrbits Sketch Drawer

— RELATED: 11 best software for drawing tablets for professional and budding digital artists

AKVIS Sketch

AKVIS Sketch - pic to sketch

AKVIS Sketch give you the power to easily apply a wide range of different effects to your digital photos. You can turn your picture into a black and white sketch, or into an oil painting.

The algorithms used by AKVIS collect data regarding the colours, proportions, and added effects, to offer you some of the best image processing on the market, coming very close to the results a real artist would get.

This software has an easy to use UI, that allows you to process your picture with any filters or editing you choose, and then you can modify your image even more by choosing to make the hatching denser or finer, change the angle of strokes, and add color if needed.

One of the best features of this software is the Timeline options. This tool shows you a history of your latest 10 actions in the program and makes suggestions regarding the best filters to add, by showing you examples of other edits.

 Check out Akvis Sketch on the official website

You can also use this software to batch process images, allowing you to save time, and offering the same level of results as in the case of single image processing.

 Order now AKVIS Sketch

— RELATED: Need a software to convert photos into paintings? Here are 5 tools


FotoSketcher - pic to painting/ pic to sketch

FotoSketcher is another great software option that can easily transform your digital images into professional looking artworks. The effects found in this program cover a few different styles -pencil sketches, watercolour and oil paintings, abstract art, etc.

You just need to download this free program, and with just a few clicks and movement of slides, you can add a wide range of effects, and then export them directly.

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This software contains a good range of presets that allow you to make an informed decision regarding how your image will look after the process is completed. You can preview the effects before adding them, and your are able to customize the level of effect which will be applied.

This software also allows you to edit your images with standard features like sharpen effects, luminosity customization, color saturation, and can also customize options like – edge intensity, threshold, brightness levels.

These options allow you to transform the output to fit your needs, and also allows you to compare the original and edited photos side by side. This feature can help you if you need to achieve a specific look.

 Try FotoSketcher

— RELATED: 6 affordable monitors for photo editing to purchase in 2020


XnSketch - photo to sketch

XnSketch is a very powerful and free software that allows you to easily turn your digital images into pencil sketches, among other effects.

This software contains a total of 18 different effects – black strokes, white strokes, pastel, pencil sketch, colored sketch, etc.

Using this software also gives you the power to adjust edge strength, and opacity. The tool also offers options for adjusting contrast, brightness, saturation levels, etc.

This software offers an all-encompassing solution to your image editing needs, allowing you to share your artwork with others either by exporting them as a PNG or JPG image on your hard-drive, or by directly sharing on Facebook, Picasa, Imgur, Tumblr, and other social networking services.

 Download XnSketch

Instant Photo Sketch

Instant-Photo-Sketch - pic to sketch

Instant Photo Sketch is a light-weight free software that allows you to easily transform your photos into sketches, by the use of its effects.

Compared to the other software options we presented in this list, Instant Photo Sketch doesn’t offer a wide range of features and customization options, but, as the name suggests, it gets the job done fast when it comes to applying sketch effects to your images.

This software can automatically transform your picture by clicking one button and moving one slider. The slider allows you to choose the level to which the chosen effects are applied, and can also customize the brush stroke.

You can also zoom in when editing your images, and after the conversion is done, you can easily export your images into either .jpeg or .png files.

 Download Instant Photo Sketch


The ability to turn your photos into sketches can make them look really cool, and by using the tools we mentioned above, you should be able to easily convert your photos into a sketch, and apply any other effect customization as needed.

Our recommendations cover the topic of this article, but software like SoftOrbit Sketch Drawer and AKVIS Sketcher offer you a great range of other useful features like image cropping, merge options, color customization, stroke size customization, etc.

If you just want to get the job done fast, and you’re not interested in customizing the way your result looks, then we recommend trying either XnSketch or Instant Photo Sketch.

Let us know in the comment section below what software option you chose and how it performed for you.

FAQ: Learn more about image editing

  • What are the basic image editing?

If you want to learn how to edit images properly, first you’ll have to master colour correction, cropping, white balance and sharpening.

  • What are the stages of editing?

There are many editing stages that are often confused or called differently, but the main ones are: structural editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

  • What are image editing tools?

Image editing tools are software tools like Gimp, Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. They are used to add or remove things from photos, adjust the clarity, color gamma, and other image-specific options.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in January 2019 and was revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.