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Tutorial: Create a nice oilpainting from a photo

Written by , translated by redforce · Created on Sep 15, 2008, last updated over 9 years ago CC BY-NC License
Create a nice oilpainting from a photo


In this tutorial our user t0bias shows you how to create a fantastic looking oilpainting from a photo. Enjoy!

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    To get a usable size to apply on the tools used, I am going to use a factor “x”. x can easily be calculated on an image with a 4:3 aspect by
    just taking 1% of the longer side of the image. E.g. if your image has a size of 800*600 pixels, x would have a value of 8.

  2. 2

    First, we are going to slightly adjust brightness and contrast be 10% “Colors” → “Brightness / Contrast”
    Brightness: +10%
    Contrast: + 10%

  3. 3

    Now let’s make the colors a bit more intense
    “Filter” → “Increase” → “Unsharp Mask”

    Radius: 1x
    Amount: 1
    Threshhold: 0

  4. 4

    In order to get the best possible effect on the image, we’re going to reduce the amount of colors

    “Colors” → “Posterize”: Colors: 3 or 4 (prior to GIMP 2.8: Colors: 12)

  5. 5

    If the name of the layer in the “Layer”-Dialogue should be printed in
    bold, do

    “Layer” → “Transparency” → “Add alphachannel”

  6. 6

    Now go back to the “Layer”-Dialogue, duplicate the layer by right-clicking on the active layer and choosing “duplicate Layer”. Then hide the upper of the two layers by clicking on the “eye”-symbol on the left. Before proceeding, make sure the lower layer is active again!

  7. 7

    Use the Blur-filter to make the colors merge at the edges.
    “Filter” → “Blur” → “Gaussian Blur”:
    Radius: 1x
    Method: RLE

  8. 8

    Next choose

    “Filter” → “Artistic” → “Gimpressionist”
    and use the following settings:

    → Feathers

    → Scale: 1x

    → Directions: 6
    → Start Angle: 0
    → Angle Span: 120
    → Orientation: Adaptive

    → Sizes: 4
    → Minimum Size: 3x
    → Maximum Size: 8x
    → Size: Adaptive

    → Placement: Randomly
    → Stroke Density: 36

  9. 9

    The contours of the strokes are a bit hard, so reduce them by doing “Colors” → “Color to Transparency”: Color: #bababa

  10. 10

    In the “Layer”-Dialogue, add a new layer and choose “Filling” → “White”, next move the newly created layer to the very bottom.

  11. 11

    Now unhide the hidden layer in the “Layer”-Dialogue.

  12. 12

    Now draw the outlines of the shape by doing
    “Filter” → “Find edges” → “Neon”

    Radius: 0.5x
    Intensity: 0%

  13. 13

    We don’t want any colored lines, so choose
    “Colors” → “Desaturate”: Grauwert: Average
    to remove the colors.

  14. 14

    Next, we invert the colors in order to make the white lines become black “Colors” → “Invert”

  15. 15

    We don’t want any gray tones, but black and white ones, so do “Colors” → “Threshold”: Move the handle about in the center of the color-bar or wherever you think the shape is clearly drawn by the lines or just leave the default

  16. 16

    It should look like this now:

  17. 17

    Next we are going to make the lines “pencil-like”.
    “Filter” → “Artistic” → “Van Gogh (LIC)”
    leave any settings at the default values

  18. 18

    Remove the white background-color “Color” → “Color to transparency”: Color: #ffffff

  19. 19

    Now use the rubber-tool to remove artefacts, just keep the “pretty” lines.

  20. 20

    Finish the painting by choosing “Overlay” for the active layer in the “Layer”-Dialogue.


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John Henry
over 9 years ago

BTW, for English readers, Step 13: Entsättigen is Desaturate (according to Google Translate), and Step 15: Schwellwert is Threshold.

John Henry
over 9 years ago

Unable to do step 4 under GIMP 2.8. "“Colors” → “Posterize”
Colors: 12". It's done by Color Level now. 3 means 2^^3=8, or 4 for 16. Can't specifiy 12.

unni member for over 12 years unni 2 comments rated this topic with 5/5
over 10 years ago

Excellent tutorial. My image is attached

dr_who rated this topic with 5/5
over 13 years ago

thx for a really useful tutorial! always looking for new things to try with my pictures — and new things to learn.

over 13 years ago

Anyone ever seen any good scripts out there that do this? It's a good effect, but would be nice to have a plugin or something for slight adjustments.

replica watches
about 14 years ago

I'm not a troll, but this is bad taste. If you want nice oilpailts, make it with real brushes and true oil paint...

over 15 years ago

The name you give me is not good taste either.
Yes we live in a relatively free world. It is the reason why I thought I was allowed to post my aesthetic point of view.

over 15 years ago

I think that Francois is a asshole. I has nothing to do with bad taste. This tutorial is all about how to make an oil painting NOT if it can replace oil paintings. If people want to create oil paintings from a photo then they should be allowed. We live in a FREE world!!!!

Francois member for over 15 years Francois 31 comments
over 15 years ago

What about creating a nice photo from an oilpaint?

Seriously, I'm not a troll, but this is bad taste. If you want nice oilpailts, make it with real brushes and true oil paint...

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
almost 16 years ago

Its a similar effect but imo this one looks cooler then the one under filters ;)

almost 16 years ago

Very nice. Although, the Oil Paint effect thing under filters works just the same. :)

residentevil5 member for almost 16 years residentevil5 1 comment
almost 16 years ago

I could get most of it.......

almost 16 years ago

The final result it's very nice!!

almost 16 years ago

I think the Unsharp Mask is under "Filters" > "Enhance"