High-key effect II. in Photoshop CS5

The following article consisting of a few quick steps introduces a new blending mode in Photoshop CS5 and shows how to apply. We would like to convert our normal studio portray photo into a high-key image that almost looks like a drawing.

Load the photo

It can be any kind. We will be very quick.


Create a duplicate of the original layer (Background) under Layer/Duplicate Layer menu and stay on the newly created Background Copy layer.

Choose Divide in the top left blending mode of Layer palette. It is a newly-introduced feature in Photoshop CS5, so you would try to find it in earlier versions in vain.

Have you selected it? Is it a white screen you can see now? Then so far, so good.

It appears after some blur

In order to achieve the desired graphics effect, you need to blur the content of the upper layer.

Go to Filter/Blur/Baussian Blur menu, and select a value. If you opt for a low value, only the edges will appear, while if you go for a higher value, you’ll get something like an over-exposure photo.

Check the Preview option by all means, and so you can easily monitor the effect of the modifications in the original picture.


Once you are done with the settings, click OK, and here is your high-key photo that resembles a drawing.

If you want an effect with even more graphics–like features, set saturation to 0 in Image/Adjustments/Hue/Saturation menu before starting the above actions, and then at the third step, select a low blur value. This way you will get a black-and-white picture, like a pencil-drawing.