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Akin to Instagram filters, there are now apps that can turn a photo into a painting. From Munch’s Scream to Mondrian’s geometric genius, these artistic effect filter apps are easy to use, and available for both mobile and desktop.
If you want to know how to make a photo look like a painting for free, you might be interested in reading about the brains behind these apps, the DeepStyle neural painting algorithm. While all apps use this same algorithm, the way it is applied in different apps is what sets them apart.
1. Prisma (Android, iOS): The Best of the Art Filter Apps
You’ve probably seen this app mentioned either on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Prisma kicked off the art-style filter craze because it is remarkably easy to use, and does a few things none of the other apps do.
With Prisma, once you choose a photo and a filter, it will apply the filter immediately (takes about 10-20 seconds) and show you a preview of your final image. You can then slide your finger left or right to denote the intensity of the filter, from 0 to 100 percent. And there are usual image editing options like exposure, contrast, saturation, etc.
The free version only works with SD-quality pictures and has plenty of great filters already. If you want to unlock HD quality images and over 300 filters, you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium plan for $1.99 per month.
If you like tinkering around to turn your photos into art for your social media, then the premium version would be worth it. Prisma is the easiest to use among all these apps to turn a photo into a painting.
If you specifically want full-size images and aren’t bothered about the number of filters or how well it turns photos into paintings, you can also check out Vinci. It’s free, and you get high-definition images with a watermark. But the effect doesn’t look as good as Prisma.
2. Dreamscope (Web): No Waiting, High-Res Images
You don’t always need a smartphone to turn your photos into these brilliant paintings. If you want to know how Pablo Picasso would have turned your photos to watercolors, find out at Dreamscope.
This web app uses the same DeepStyle generator and has several different styles that you can use as filters. In fact, after Prisma, I think DeepStyle has the largest collection of styles.
More importantly, Dreamscope doesn’t compress your images. You can upload a high-resolution photo and get a high-resolution photo in return, whereas all the other apps will shrink it to a smaller size. High resolution will be necessary if you want to print out any of these “painted photos” and frame them.
You can also browse the gallery of recent Dreamscope creations by other users to see the cool creative possibilities of this photo painting app.
3. DeepArt (Web): Create Custom Styles
DeepArt is a web app with the option to turn any painting you see online into a filter style. And the result is surprisingly good, even if you aren’t using a famous painting.
Let’s say you found a wonderful unfiltered image that someone shared on Instagram, after they tweaked with the settings to get it just right. You can download that Instagram image and turn it into a filter for yourself on DeepArt, as long as you sign up for it.
Then upload your own image, choose that new filter you created, and watch DeepArt marry the two. I’d recommend checking out the “Latest Images” tab to get inspired by what people are creating, so you have an idea of what you’d like to do.
The final “paintings” are sized 500×500 pixels, and take some time to generate. You can get your paintings faster by paying a small fee.
4. NeuralStyle.Art (Web): Most Powerful Artistic Filter App
If you are a professional or a designer who needs much more control over the effects of DeepStyle, you need to head to NeuralStyle.Art. This web app is the most powerful photo art app among all the ones I tested.
The free version has similar limitations as others, such as SD resolution output and can only do three jobs a day. But the amount of tinkering you can do with the painting’s style, brush size, intensity, and other parameters is unmatched in other apps.
NeuralStyle.Art really shines when you go for the pro versions, which start at $1.99. You can then apply filters to videos, remove watermarks, get stronger levels of filters, and even batch-process multiple images.
5. r/deepstyle (Web): Discuss All Things Related to Art Filters
Want to know when a killer new app is available? Want an app like this that worked with videos? Want to create your own app? Want to see what others are creating? Reddit has an entire forum for this.
Over at r/deepstyle, you will find everything related to this new algorithm, from papers on how to make your own app to existing software and galleries. The community is quite helpful with all aspects of this tech, and will even give you suggestions and critiques on how to make your images better.
Try Photo Filters With Artificial Intelligence
The go-to app for most lay users should be Prisma, given its range of filters and ease of use. If you want to make a photo look like a painting for free just one time, then Dreamscope is the better option. DeepArt is ideal if you want to try making a filter of your own. And NeuralStyle is best for professionals and anyone else who regularly wants the most powerful picture to painting app.
These photo art apps are only a drop in the vast ocean of cool image-editing apps. In fact, you should check out some of the new AI-based photo editing apps for mobile and desktop. The types of effects and enhancements these offer, with minimal input from you as the user, will blow your mind.
If you’re looking for more useful photo-manipulation apps for your phone, take a look at these Android and iPhone apps that let you animate still photos.