Sketch over a Photo in Artboard

This magnificent blue jay makes a great study for sketching in Artboard. Learn how to sketch using freehand lines.

 Tutorial Details

Program: Artboard 2+ for MacOS
Difficulty: Beginner
Topics Covered: Freehand Line tool, Layers, Styles
Estimated Completion Time: Medium

Step 1 – Setup

In this tutorial we use a Wacom Bamboo Tablet to draw sketchy strokes and shapes. Your mouse or track pad also provide quick response and smooth results when sketching.

In the Toolbar, turn off all Graphic > Snap To settings.


Step 2 – Add Image

Begin by adding an image for tracing. In this example, we are tracing a photograph taken by wildlife photographer James Ownby, used with permission. Use your own image that suits your purpose.

In the toolbar, click the icon to open the Image Browser and choose an image. Drag the image onto your drawing canvas.


In the Geometry Tab, with the image selected change the image opacity to about 60% to make tracing easier.


Step 3 – Add Drawing Layer

Add a new layer to hold your sketch drawing. Click the “+” button at the bottom of the Layers Tab. Optionally, type to name the layer.


Step 4 – Create a Style

Open the Style Tab. Click “Reset” to create a new style from scratch. Uncheck the “fill” to remove it. Click onto the stroke color-well and choose a nice dark brown color from the Colors panel. Adjust the stroke width as needed.


Step 5 – Begin Sketch Drawing

Using the Freehand Path [f] tool, begin tracing over your image to produce a ‘sketch’ type drawing. Rather than drawing precise outlines, use several shorter strokes to provide the outline and shading.

In this example, we use three different stroke widths. First, we draw the lighter lines.


Then we increase the stroke width in the Style Tab and continued drawing.

Use a fill style of the same color to draw a circle for the eye, and a smaller white circle for the eye reflection.


Final Image

You’ve successfully created a sketch drawing. At this point you may want to turn off the background image layer, and maybe add some other background and finishing touches. Here’s our sketch after adding color and a hatch fill background. Give it a try, we’d love to see your next masterpiece!