Interesting new tools for transforming photography into hand-drawn art are everywhere around, but Instagram buffs and other enthusiasts of the visual craft are not pleased. This is not to say that some of them aren’t pretty good, of course. The problem is, the results could never be compared to the real thing. Whether it comes to sketch, oil, charcoal, marker, or something else, they simply don’t deliver.
These are the main drawbacks of using online tools for sketch conversion.
Curly Ribbons and Simple Lines
If you’d ever had a privilege to learn sketching from a master, you’d know that simple, clean lines are what makes this art form so impactful and magical in the first place. It’s all about making these lines soft and fluid enough – when properly drawn, they sway, curl, and intertwine before your very eyes.
Now download one of those photo-to-sketch apps and let them do their thing. Compare the result with what you’ve intended to get, and you’ll notice a splice of lifeless lines. Some of them pixelated, other smudged, they never deliver the same kind of delicate, but unfinished effect of original sketches.
Taking Control of the Pencil
The first rule of beautiful sketching is taking control of the pencil. Sketch artists are not taught how to hold their tool correctly because of some obsolete drawing norm, but because every little sketch effect depends on the angle between a pen and a paper, and on pressure that’s applied on both of them.
That’s something that an online conversion tool could never get right, not in a million years. It takes many years of practice and some talent to master this craft. The lack thereof is obvious in sketches produced by an online tool, where there’s little to no difference between heavier and lighter strokes.
In all exciting and lifelike sketches, texture is achieved either by controlled smudging or by filling the gaps with watercolor pencils. It’s all about the grain that adds life to a motionless drawing, but that grain effect is nowhere easy to accomplish. It asks for subtlety, good measure, and utter hand control.
Now look at the grain on your artificially converted photo. Despite all the various filters and effects, it still fails to achieve visual harmony. Shades are either too granular or not highlighted enough, thus robbing your sketch of all of its authenticity and artistic intensity. And, don’t let me start about edges.
Sketch Conversion Is an Art Too
The main differences between a hand-drawn sketch and the one created with an online tool are visible from a mile away. But still, that doesn’t mean that artists who convert photographs into sketches don’t exist, nor does it mean that all of them are equally good. Sketch conversion is an art in its own right.
If you’re converting your photographs just for kicks, most online tools will suffice. But, if you’re looking for the real thing, if this is a project that needs to be professionally done, you should outsource photo-to-sketch conversion to experts in photo editing. A professional would now how to do it right.
Being a quick, informal drawing that’s typically done from life, a sketch should capture a moment in all of its beauty and nuance. Try as they might, but online tools for sketch conversion will never be able to achieve the desired authentic lines, subtle shades, revealing edges, or realistic textures.