Charcoal Drawing with Photoshop

Here’s a tutorial on how you can apply charcoal drawing effect to your photos using photoshop;


Step 1. Open your image in photoshop (ctrl-o). I’ll be using this beautiful bride photo by papaleguas.

step 1

Step 2. Add new layer (Shift+ctrl+N), let’s name this layer ‘paper’ and fill this layer with the desired color of your charcoal paper. Mine is #c5b88f

step 2

Step 3. Copy the background layer, place it on top of the stack of layers, then apply ‘glowing edges effect’ (filter > stylize > Glowing Edges Filter). Experiment with the sliders in the dialoque box to your taste.

step 3

Step 4. Now invert this layer (image > adjustments > invert) and make it b&w (image > adjustments > desaturate) to create black and white drawing

step 4

Step 5. Set the blending mode of that drawing layer to multiply. Here’s what you should come up to..

step 5

Step 6. Copy your background layer, desaturate it (image > adjustments > desaturate) and place it on the top of your layer stack, and add some noise to this layer. (filter > noise > add noise > monochromatic & gaussian). Set the opacity to 75%

step 6

Step 7. Add a layer mask on that layer (layer > layer masks > hide all), select the charcoal large smear brush and paint with white on the mask to reveal the charcoal specks.

step 7

Step 8. Select the layer mask, and apply motion blur (filter > blur > motion blur). Still on the same layer mask, apply crosshatch brush strokes (filter > brush strokes > crosshatch)

step 8

Step 9. Select the paper layer, and fill it with pattern (new fill layer > pattern). You can choose any pattern you like. I just chose the charcoal flecks pattern. Then change the layer blending mode to multiply

step 9

Step 10. Copy your color layer, and place it on top of the stack of layers, change the layer blend mode to ‘color’ and from here you can add a curve adjustment layer to increase the contrast, play with the color balance and so on.. Here’s my final result;


Have fun!

85 Responses to “Charcoal Drawing with Photoshop”

  1. crystal says:

    to fill with the pattern, layer>show all menue items>new fill layer>pattern. to fill paper layer choose color, alt+backspace on windows.

  2. crystal says:

    duplicate layer, just means copy.

  3. crystal says:

    step six. alls u do is copy the background layer. desaturate it (image adjustments>desaturate) then move it to the top of all ur layers.

  4. crystal says:

    im new to photoshop. everything ive learned ive learned from tutorials. and this is by far the best one that ive ever came acrossed. i love the explinations of where to find everything. this was my first time doin the charcoal thing. i was confused a few times. but nothing i couldnt figure out. if someone needs help, just ask 🙂

  5. crystal says:

    no hun, color layer ur copying is the “paper” layer. copy it or “duplicate” it, then move it to the top of the list. then go to blending options and scroll down to color. then click ok.

  6. uttam kumar says:

    select the set colour option
    and once the color picker opens
    in the bottom right the last but one option is # enter c5b88f over there.
    once the color is selected
    use paint bucket tool to paint the layer

  7. Davo says:

    Hi guys,

    There seems to be a bit of confusion around how to do this… anyone fancy fleshing it out a bit with menu grabs and screen shots for each step? I would, but got lost myself 😉


  8. Picchu says:

    I have the same problem as McCurdy, Daniel and others – no ‘Charcoal Fleck Pattern’. Is it standard Photoshop type of patterns? Please tell me where can I find it

  9. Giuseppe says:

    Charcoal flecks

    I’ve spent 3 hours trying to find the pattern Charcoal flecks, thats what happens to newbies.
    No one was nice enough to say where it was, and you dont even need to subscribe. Anyway.

    For who doesnt know it’s already in photoshop, in the “pattern fill” window open the patterns list,there is a little arrow pointing right click it and in the drop down menu select grayscale paper and then use your Charcoal flecks.

    I did mine and it doesnt look very good. you still need to be expert with the program to get some good resoults, nice tutorial anyway.

  10. Beyota says:

    Thanks… finally I can do it!!!

  11. Rin says:

    O.K. Photoshop and other computer programs are art. Just because they are “non-traditional” does not mean they don’t count. As a painter and an avid photoshop user, I say that art is creation. Obviously you use a computer, every program you use is a work of art. Someone had to create the computer you’re useing now… Could you have done that? Try to build yourself a simple flash game, and then say computer programs are not art. Thank you.

  12. evilkitty75 says:

    lol its simple
    shes written a nice clean tut

  13. Nadoo says:

    Thanks u Giuseppe !

  14. Ana says:

    how do i do this…..Add a layer mask on that layer (layer > layer masks > hide all)

    when i click layer there is no layer masks option

    i am using photoshop elements 5.0

    i can do all the other parts of this tutorial except this part.

    someone please help =D

  15. Mo says:

    Thank you I love this Tutorial I was trying to do this for a young lady I really care about but it is to hard I mean damn. I don’t think it was explained to well the person explained it because they was well advanced. I mean I can’t figure out the key commands even other Tutorials I struggled but I figured out how to do them. I think people got to remember that you gotta always go in baby steps just in case you have those trying to keep up.

  16. Mo says:

    Go to the Color Picker and go to the Bottom and it has a number on it Color Picker is where it says Color, Switches and Styles.

  17. enas says:

    Thank alot for this information ,,,,,,,,i want some lesson about photoshop,,,,plesae,,,,,i want learn photoshop ,,,,,,

  18. juancasdt says:

    Me parece super malo este tutorial…
    Para empezar, enseñan con detalle “como abrir una foto en photoshop” , y luego a las cosas realmente importantes, las pasa de largo y no especifica NADA!!!
    Gracias por tu tiempo en subir a la red estos tutoriales, sin embargo, tu esfuerzo no valio de mucho.

  19. eve says:

    where i can get that photoshop?

  20. ay4tocreation says:

    hi. what up ?room whatis going on here …..talking abt softwear for what lol?

  21. realistic says:

    its not just being artistic or not being creative..its how you use and maximized it..dont be so dumb..

  22. realistic says:

    hey im kind a confuse in step 8..i did exactly what the procedure says..but its not working…please tell me…thanks

  23. DerekS says:


    Im having a little problem with step 7, on layer mask i cant find the >hide all> option. And my psp its in spanish, so i may confuse it a bit. Any how, do i have to instal that option? Could u help me, I’ll be checkin to see your answer.

    And for those who critizise the use of psp, well, i do a little drawing by hand to and this is a new way of creating. We all have to go with the flow, and computers are what we have naw; computers we use. Beside, u dnt use your art in webs or comercial adds, and even so, u would take a week to do the same you do in 30 min w psp.

    Im not sayins its better, im saying its new, and i like both.

  24. Nynke Arends says:

    When i try to save the picture as JPEG, the woman turns grey again. What am i doing wrong?

  25. jay says:

    i quite confused with step 9, where i have to use the charcoal flecks pattern, i cant find it inside pattern. do i need to install any plugins for this???

  26. bri says:

    Step 7 is tricky – you cannot paint with white on white mask! But you can paint with black revealing background around your target – use any brush you like with proper size.
    also “hide all” is not necessary.

    Motion blur and crosshatch do not bring great results everytime.

  27. surya says:

    this photo shop exercise very useful for me,and i feel very happy to see this ,and learn something in it.

  28. ziba says:

    I’m ziba from iran

  29. Henk says:

    click on the menu with shows the patterns you have. then click on the arrow to the right. You get a menu, then click on grayscale paper. It is located there 😉

  30. Ariel says:

    It works perfect, thank you so much!!!!

  31. marco says:

    hi. the last step is very confused.
    copy the your color level and put at the top.
    I putted the yellow level but i see just the yellow level that cover everything and noting else.
    Was ok till last step but is not easy to understand which level i have to put on top.

  32. angela says:

    go to layer> New fill layer> solid color> ok > in the dialog box of pick a color..on the end there is # sign and a box…just type c5b88f and then ok

  33. raikaned says:

    This is not for first timer in PS

  34. Melissa says:

    I need the pattern please!

  35. JULS says:


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