Quick Customization - 16 steps to glory!

1. Open the Sketch.aep After Effects Project and import your image or footage.

2. Drop your image or footage into the composition!

3. Go into the composition !

4. Every controls how often the frame advanced. By default it is set to 2 and this mean that the sketch effect and the underlying image only update every 2 frames. This gives a more hand drawn animation feel to the movement. If you want the frame to update every frame like the underlying footage naturally does, set this to 1. If you want the drawn lines to remain static, for instance if your footage is a still image rather than video, then set this to a very high number... say 10000. Of course you can use any number in between. You cannot set this value below 1.

5. The shading on the image is split in to 3 levels. Highlight, where there is no shading, Midtone where there is fairly loose shading with diagonal lines and Shadow where there is dense, dark cross hatching. highlight above and shadow below are thresholds. Imagine a scale from 0 to 255 where 0 is black and 255 is white. The default value of 150 (shown above) for highlight above means that all values that are above the threshold of 150 will become highlights. Making this number lower will mean there are more highlights. Likewise, the default value of 50 for shadow below means that all values below 50 will be shadows. Making this value higher will give more shadow areas. Of course, everything in between is midtone. In this example, all values between 50 and 150 become midtones.

6. The chalkboard setting fundamentally changes the look of Sketch. Initially Sketch looks something like a pencil or ink drawing on paper. By setting the chalkboard checkbox to On, the image becomes like a chalk drawing on a chalkboard... in other words, white lines on a black background. If you want to use the chalkboard effect, you should set this first before setting the highlight above and shadow below settings.

7. The extra dark checkbox which is on by default causes the shadows to be extra dense. Set this to Off if you want to see more gaps between the lines in the shadows.

8. Sketch handles images that have large bold areas of color, highlight and shadow and nice clear edges (in other words an image that has strong silhouettes even if you desaturate the image completely). However, you may often have images that you want to apply the Sketch effect to that are not like this. Images that are not clear, that have a lot of complicating detail and so on.

Sketch works by finding the natural edges and outlines in the image and then filling areas of midtone and shadow as described above. If you are working with a more difficult image, then you will almost certainly want to go through the following steps to adjust the natural outlines and make your image as clear as possible. Otherwise, these steps are optional.

9. Now click on outlines, press E on your keyboard to show the effects and double click on any of these to bring up the effects in the effects control windows. Twirl down the effects pre adjust contrast, Smart Blur and post adjust contrast. These are the three effects you are going to be adjusting to alter the outlines.

10. Pre adjust contrast alters the black and white levels of the underlying image (and hence the contrast). By doing so, you decide on which lines will be visible. If you set the lower vertex into the bottom left corner and the top vertex into the top right corner (so that you have a diagonal line going from bottom left to top right) then you will see the most lines. By adjusting these two vertices to the left and right, some lines will become more or less visible. It takes a little bit of playing around with and really it's a process of trial and error to get it right.

11. The next effect, Smart Blur is much more defined in how it works. By adjusting the second value, Threshold, upwards, you will find that finer, more detailed lines disappear, leaving just the big, bold edges. This can be very useful to remove unwanted clutter and detail from the image. The Smart Blur effect takes a long while to preview and render. This is what makes Sketch a little slow to update (once you have your outlines as you want them, you may even find you want to temporarily turn Smart Blur off while you are working on other parts of the effect). Note also that with higher Threshold values for Smart Blur edges can temporarily disappear when objects in your shot move quickly and exhibit motion blur. If you are using higher Threshold values you may want to animate the value of Threshold down to a lower value using keyframes.

13. Once you have adjusted the previous two effects, you can move on to post adjust contrast. You will often find that your outlines are not all black...there are some lighter grey lines too. This final effect is designed to deal with that. By sliding the bottom left vertex of the curve to the right, you will find that non-black lines become lighter and disappear. Alternatively, if you like the lighter lines, moving the top right vertex to the left will make them become darker and more visible.

14. Note that working at half resolution speeds up working with Sketch greatly. However, working at half resolution doesn't give a fully accurate picture of how the end result will look. Lines tend to appear a little thicker and a little softer. But if you can make a mental note of this and take it into account as you work then working at half res. is a very good idea.

15. Finally, Sketch has a slightly yellowed paper texture to it. This is created by the topmost layer, paper texture. To have Sketch render against pure white, just turn this layer's visibility off. If you like the paper texture, but want to adjust its color, then go into this layer's effects and play with the Curves settings. Alternatively, delete the Curves setting and apply your own, preferred color adjustments.

16. That's it! Now you're ready to render. Choose Composition -> Make Movie from the dropdown menus, select your render destination and render settings and hit Render!

Click below to download.


(Direct Link, 1.56mb)



  1. Can't get the download to work. It takes me to a white page and no download. I would love to use this!

  2. Can't get the download to work. It takes me to a white page and no download. I would love to use this!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.