Learn How to Turn Photos Into Illustrations

We all know your photographs are works of art, but have you ever wished they looked more graphic? Less photographic and more representational? Not lifelike, but illustrational? PicMonkey has the tools and effects to make your image look like it belongs on the wall of a hoity-toity art gallery. Watch our video to see this action go down or skim below to get the highlights.

Start with the right image

This technique works differently with different types of images. We would suggest sticking to images that are a little on the darker side. Lighter images have a tendency of looking washed out. For this reason, indoor shots are good. Lastly, stick to a picture that’s not too rich in detail, since too many details can end up looking muddy. Check out our vast array of stock photos to find a great shot to work with.

Trace the lines in your image

Edge Sketch makes your pictures look like they’ve been traced over in pencil.

  • From the PicMonkey Editor, click the Effects tab and scroll down to Edge Sketch (in the Artsy effect group).

  • Turn your Thickness and Level of detail sliders all the way up to capture the maximum amount of detail.

  • Adjust your Fade slider about midway so that some of the color comes back into the image and then click Apply.

Add a painted feel

Next, adding the Posterize effect reduces the number of colors in your image and softens out the details so that your image looks like it’s been painted.

  • The Posterize effect is conveniently located right above Edge Sketch, in the Artsy group.

  • Adjust your Number of colors slider up to at least 15. (Don’t be worried if your picture still looks washed out. When we adjust the exposure in the next step, it’ll bring the colors back.)

  • Adjust your Level of detail slider so that it’s somewhere in the middle. This will keep most of your detail intact while softening out some of the lines. This makes your image look more “drawn.”

  • Again, adjust the Fade slider about midway and then click Apply.

Bring on the color

Finally, adjusting your image’s exposure will bring back the colors that have been muted by the other effects.

  • Click the Basic Edits tab and apply Exposure.

  • Each photo is different, so play around with the sliders until they look right to you.

  • When you’re all done, click Apply.

Now that you've created an original work of art, you can use it in a Facebook post, Instagram story, Pinterest pin, or YouTube thumbnail so the world can appreciate your genius.

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This article was written by PicMonkey Staff, a multicellular organism of hive-minded sub-parts who just wanna get you the ideas and information you crave, so you can make powerful images that level up your business.