How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

i   How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMPA vector version of your photo stands out for a number of reasons. The combination of colors and the realistic quality of vector art immortalizes any portrait, instantly making it as distinguishable as a painting.

Not only does vector art look amazing, but it’s also incredibly time-consuming. Just look at any number of vector tutorials on YouTube, and you’ll notice that the price to finish a great-looking piece of vector art yourself involves meticulous work and patience.

Not all is lost, however. Cartoonifying your portraits is actually easier than you think, thanks to built-in plugins and features in GIMP, the premier open-source photo editor.


If you want to achieve the effects of automated photo-editing applications, such as beFunky, (which offers some really great cartoonifying effects and more if you purchase premium membership), what better than first trying with GIMP? Lots of practice can lead to plenty of fun, frameable pieces that you’ll certainly want to share and show off in no time.

If you are new to GIMP, check out the recent collection of hand-picked video tutorials for beginners.

Cartoonifying People: Method 1

  • Load your photo in GIMP. You can do this by drag and dropping any picture, pressing Ctrl + O,¬†or heading to File > Open.

0   How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

  • Now duplicate the layer by going to Layer > Duplicate Layer.

1   How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

  • You’ll see a second image in the Layers box, named Background Copy. Make sure you don’t click anywhere else because you want to keep that new layer selected.

2   How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

  • Now head to Filters > Artistic > Cartoon.

3   How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

  • Move the Mask Radius slider to 50, where it should look least grainy. Move¬†Percent Black to about 0.353 (the higher it is, the thicker the strokes are). You can change and experiment with different values to your liking, which may help you learn about GIMP’s potential particularly if you are new to GIMP. When you are satisfied, click OK.

4   How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

  • In a few seconds, GIMP will finish rendering the cartoon effect on your photo. You can repeat the Cartoon effect by pressing Ctrl + Y or heading to Filters > Repeat Cartoon. That’s it!

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Method 2

  • Open up your photo and duplicate the layer. While you have the duplicated layer highlighted (which should be, by default), go to Colors > Threshold.

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  • Now on the dialog box that shows up, move the slider slightly to the left.

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  • The numbers I have are 155 and 255 but it depends on your photo. A rule of thumb is that your adjusted photo should have more white than black. Whenever you are satisfied with the previewed change, click OK.

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  • Back at the Layer box, put this layer at Value mode (the default is¬†Normal).

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  • Here’s what Value mode gives us.

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  • You can experiment with the different modes. I’ve found Overlay, Soft Light, Multiply, Darken Only and Burn to work better than other modes.¬†Here’s Overlay mode, which seems to work well when you move the Threshold slider to the right (as opposed to the left).

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Cartoonifying Objects

Regular photos (non-portraits) can turn into art pieces easily as well. You can try the previous methods on non-portraits, but not the other way around because I’ve tried and people in pictures just don’t come out very nice. Basically, pictures of objects or landscapes can be cartoonified all three ways, but if you try this method on portraits, you’ve been warned: your result image will probably just scare you.

Anyway, let’s start the tutorial, which is actually an adaptation of a couple of tutorials from¬†another blog and Youtube, but I’ve included some tips of my own here.

  • First,¬†load the picture up in GIMP and duplicate the layer.

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  • Go to Filters > Edge-Detect > Edge.

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  • In the box that appears, choose Sobel for the algorithm, Amount of 2.0 and select Black. Press OK.

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  • Your picture now should be in dark tones. Go to Colors > Invert.

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  • Go to the Layers box and change the layer mode to either Burn, Overlay (which gives the same effect as Soft Light mode),¬†Multiply, Darken Only, Grain Merge.

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  • This is the “cartoonified” picture with the duplicated layer in Overlay mode.

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Want more tutorials? Here’s how to create cool¬†stereographic projections and wallpapers.

Do you prefer regular photos or do you like them spiced up in vector or cartoon format? Photoshop users, feel free to share your cartoonifying methods in the comments too!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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37 Comments -

thenonhacker

Using GIMP after using Photoshop feels like
using abacus after using Calculators.

You that know GIMP UI is that bad, when some people are already sensitive about switching from Office 2003 Toolbars to Office 2007 Ribbons. Gee, switching from Photoshop to GIMP is harder than that!

- From an enthusiast who used Photoshop and GIMP Portable.

thenonhacker

Using GIMP after using Photoshop feels likeusing abacus after using Calculators.You that know GIMP UI is that bad, when some people are already sensitive about switching from Office 2003 Toolbars to Office 2007 Ribbons. Gee, switching from Photoshop to GIMP is harder than that!- From an enthusiast who used Photoshop and GIMP Portable.

Jessica Cam W.

Well, if you’re more used to Photoshop, do you know about GIMPshop? It’s made to work more like Photoshop. The author renamed features so Photoshop users would feel at home instead of getting confused with the same features in GIMP that have different names. You can also read Handy Tweaks To Make GIMP Replace Photoshop, which is really, Make GIMP Less Confusing.

Anonymous

I’ve used Photoshop for over a decade and GIMP for about two years. I put off learning GIMP because the interface seemed alien. Now? Now using Photoshop feels slow and clunky and I much prefer using GIMP.
The implication that GIMP is an inferior product because it isn’t a clone of Photoshop is missing the point somewhat.

Jessica Cam W.

Yes, GIMP can be pretty snappy. Is the startup time for Photoshop as long as it can be for GIMP if you have lots of brushes and scripts?

Anonymous

Out the box, GIMP loads about 3 or four times faster than PS on any machine I’ve tried it on. However, I’ve never added more than one or two brushes and a handful of plugins to either – I use it from a web developer approach rather than an artist so I have no idea how it scales beyond that.

Jessica Cam W.

Oh, I see. It’s good to know that GIMP loads faster than PS. I actually got Microsoft Expression Design for free and man, does it take its time to load as well. More win for GIMP.

krisu

UI is gonna be changed in 2.8 version.

But I think that Photoshop is lot more complicated then GIMP

Jessica Cam W.

Yes, single-window mode will be available!

moopet

I’ve used Photoshop for over a decade and GIMP for about two years. I put off learning GIMP because the interface seemed alien. Now? Now using Photoshop feels slow and clunky and I much prefer using GIMP.
The implication that GIMP is an inferior product because it isn’t a clone of Photoshop is missing the point somewhat.

David Beach

Mine is loaded down with brushes etc..it takes awhile.. but it is an amazing app and free…

Jessica Cam W.

I’ve put additional .gbr brush files in a separate folder so the startup
time won’t be so long. You can always import/load them when you need ‘em.

Jessica Cam W.

I’ve put additional .gbr brush files in a separate folder so the startup
time won’t be so long. You can always import/load them when you need ‘em.

Jamesenvy

uhhh get a mac… PS loads lighting fast for me.

Colonel Sanders

Same for me too.

Jessica Cam W.

Even with additional/multiple scripts and brushes? I’m talking about 30+ brushes here, which is how many I have, LOL.
I think any program on any OS with that many addons would probably be sluggish.

Jessica Cam W.

Even with additional/multiple scripts and brushes? I’m talking about 30+ brushes here, which is how many I have, LOL.
I think any program on any OS with that many addons would probably be sluggish.

Mike

That cake looks much better now. Crazy delicious appetizing yummy good.

Jessica Cam W.

Well, thanks. Try it on your pictures too! It’s pretty easy.

timmyjohnboy

Oh, and I noticed Lifehacker picked this article up (good job!):

http://lifehacker.com/5695069/

Jessica Cam W.

Fireworks is for vector work, right? I can’t seem to learn using paths and nodes for the life of me.

And oh wow! Thank you for pointing out that LH link!

timmyjohnboy

Now that I run Ubuntu, GIMP pops right up for me. I switched from Fireworks when I switched OS’s and that’s the only real program I miss from Windows. Gimp does a good job photo editing though.

timmyjohnboy

Oh, and I noticed Lifehacker picked this article up (good job!):

http://lifehacker.com/5695069/cartoonify-photos-with-the-gimp

Jessica Cam W.

Fireworks is for vector work, right? I can’t seem to learn using paths and nodes for the life of me.

And oh wow! Thank you for pointing out that LH link!

timmyjohnboy

Actually, Fireworks was a blend of vector and bitmap graphics tools. It was cool because it made designing for the web a lot easier because it was all done in one program. Hotspots, slices, animations, and photo editing could all be done using Fireworks. Just thinking about it makes me miss it.

Jessica Cam W.

GIMP can also do animations and vectors via plugins like GAP. Have you tried
that?

krisu

UI is gonna be changed in 2.8 version.

But I think that Photoshop is lot more complicated then GIMP

Jessica Cam W.

GIMP can also do animations and vectors via plugins like GAP. Have you tried
that?

Audiocontr

I need some help with Gimp in making a gel effect. If anyone is bored and wouldnt mind helping out a frustrated gent, I’d love to be amazed with your skills!

“audiocontr” at good ol gmail. You can gchat me if you like

Audiocontr

I need some help with Gimp in making a gel effect. If anyone is bored and wouldnt mind helping out a frustrated gent, I’d love to be amazed with your skills!

“audiocontr” at good ol gmail. You can gchat me if you like

Jessica Cam W.

Have you tried looking for tutorials on gel/bubbly/plastic effects? I think they could all help.

Here’s 5 Websites To Learn GIMP and 5 more. Some of those sites are dedicated forums.

I also recommend GIMPChat, which is an active community for GIMPers so you can probably make a request there.

swaggersya

nice tutorial dude..thnks

Jessica Cam W.

Glad it’s helpful!

Andres

Great tutorial. What is that nice script font you use?
The one you use to write “Original” and “Modified”?

Thanks,

Andrés

Andres

Great tutorial. What is that nice script font you use?
The one you use to write “Original” and “Modified”?

Thanks,

Andrés

Jessica Cam W.

That would be the Lobster font (open font). Find it here:
http://www.impallari.com/lobst