For my daughter’s high school graduation, we’re making her a scrapbook of her life so far. In addition, it’s become a family tradition to make a video scrapbook as well. Of course, I have to outdo my sister-in-law, who made two template-driven DVDs for both of her son’s graduations, so I’m going to try and go all out with complete, effects-laden video production. Go big or go home!

One effect I wanted was to take a photo and have it “pencil shaded” in as a reveal. I had a tough time with this since there wasn’t a lot of info out there on how to do this; most “pencil animation” focuses on drawing single lines (which is always useful in its own right!) I ended up doing this the hard way, but I was impressed with the results for a no-plugin solution. I might add a bit more “sketchiness” to it to make it look less like a photo, and might ultimately transition it back to the original photo at the end of the animation.

Relevant Websites

Despite all my searching, I ended up at Creative Cow once more, at a post by someone who was looking for advice on how to recreate an erasure effect he had made years ago…but forgot how he did it. I also came across a plugin that will turn your video into a sketch, but I’m not doing video, so I figured the full power of this plugin would be lost on me.

Relevant Resources

I used a really old photo of my daughter for testing. It was taken during the winter and has a conveniently white background with the snow, so hopefully, I’ll be able to apply these tricks to more “busier” photos later on.

Technical Details

My first order of business was to isolate my daughter from the rest of the background. I did this by drawing a mask around her using the Pen tool, which was originally intended to serve an additional purpose: I had animated a stroke around her using Trim Paths, but ultimately abandoned that when the shading method panned out better than expected.

With the background out of the way, I added an Adjustment Layer at the top of the stack, applying a Black & White effect to give it a little more credibility as a pencil sketch, leaving all of the settings at their default values.

The “hard part” was actually just adding another Mask layer to the image. Using the pen, I crisscrossed the image several times so that the image was covered. Then, I added a Stroke effect to the image. Because this crisscross was Mask 2, I used that as the Path value for the stroke. I set the color to White and played with the brush size a bit. This required a scrubbing of the End value which animated the drawing of the path. I had to ensure that the stroke of the path was large enough so that there weren’t too many gaps between overlapping segments but small enough so that the result wasn’t a complete wall-to-wall coverage of the image. I wanted some organic gaps in there, so ended up at about 10.6 for the Brush Size. Finally, I set the Paint Style to “Reveal Original Image”.

The animation is only about 2 seconds long, so at frame 0, the Stroke End value is keyframed to 0%, and at two seconds, the End value is keyframed at 100%. Over this period, the stroke animates back and forth, revealing the black and white image below. To add a bit more “sketchiness” to it, I applied a Scribble effect above the Stroke on the image layer. This is set to Single Mask and uses Mask 1, which is the image isolation mask. I set the effect to be Inside the mask and the color to White. I messed around a bit with the Stroke Options so that the lines had some enhanced spacing because like the wider strokes, I wanted to be more organic looking. And just for some visual kick, I set the Wiggle Type to “Jumpy” and kept the Wiggles/Second at 10 from frame 0 until the end, and then set it to 0 so it would stop when the rest of the animation stopped. Finally, I set the Composite to “On Original Image” so the image would show through.


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