Speed up Your Sketch Clean-Up Process (Without Photoshop!)

Do you need a way to clean up your sketches faster?

You utilize sketches for these purposes, for example:

  • illustration
  • lettering
  • web design: wireframing, ui sketches
  • maybe you give sketches to the client as a deliverable, but you want them to look more clean and presentable


  • your sketches could be cleaner / don’t photograph well
  • you hate having to pull up Photoshop to clean them up (and like, you are working mainly with Illustrator anyways)
  • you need a way to work faster!!!
  • you don’t have a scanner / hate having to use a scanner

Here, try this!

I’ve adopted a simple solution to speed up my process of going from analog sketch to a cleaner, more usable digital image of the sketch, using 
1) my phone camera and 
2) the Snapseed mobile app

This solution is particularly helpful as it helps me clear up sketches just enough so that they’re easier to work off of. And this is great for a sketch-to - illustrator process, but can be used for so many other applications.

But first: download Snapseed from the app store.

  • It’s completely free
  • This app will be useful for editing everyday photos too, but I tend to use it a lot for cleaning sketches!

Step 1: take a photo with your phone

  • hold it up to a window for better lighting
  • avoid creating shadows (like with your hand or your phone. try to keep the edges down)

Step 2: Open the Snapseed app. Through the app, open the file (must give permission to SnapSeed to access your photo library)

Step 3: Make edits using the app’s easy-to-use editing features:

  • With very simple swipes and gestures, you can edit the photo:
  • crop (even has perspective crop, rotate, skewing)
  • This is what I do to almost every sketch:
  • 1: Crop (remove unnecessary parts)
  • 2: Make the image grayscale: Decrease saturation to zero (adjust dial to “Saturation” and then swipe left.
  • 3: Increase contrast: Increase Highlights (swipe right), Intensify Shadows (swipe left to go darker), & Adjust Contrast (swipe right).
  • 4: Then save & export the image! You can “save as” (Snapseed will create a new file), or “save”, which means you write over the original file (Snapseed will ask you for permission to modify the original).


So from there, I email the image to myself or save it to Google Drive, then bring the file in to Illustrator, where the digitization begins.