Cartoonizing Photos With The GIMP

This is fun! After reading this tutorial on making cartoons from photos I tried to emulate his technique in the GIMP. The dialogs are slightly different but here’s what I did..

  • Layer->Duplicate Layer
  • Select the new layer, Filters->Edge-Detect->Edge, select Sobel, Amount should be 2.0, and Black should be checked.
  • Invert the edge-mask layer, it’s in Layers->Colors->Invert
  • Back in the Layers Dialog, change the Layer Mode to Divide

Play around with Layer mode settings, desaturate the top layer, blur or otherwise mess up the bottom layer. Endless fun can be had! Feel free to post links to your own creations in the comments below!

Later.. on advice I got rid of the portrait, I’ll upload another tomorrow!

Author: Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

40 thoughts on “Cartoonizing Photos With The GIMP”

  1. That’s amazing… I’ve been looking for something like that and it actually works. Well, I’m using the “Grain merge” mode instead of “Divide” because it works the best for me.
    Thank you.

  2. well here are my steps

    Layer > Duplicate Layer

    Filter > Edge-Detect > Edge…

    Filter > Colors > Value Invert

    Layers > Mode > Value

  3. Yeah.. looks good. The instructions dont follow the new Gimp layout, so… lol, thats why there are some people saying that the instructions aren’t exactly accurate.

    This has a nice effect, btw, and its really hard to come by a good comic book / cartoon effect on the Gimp whereas its pretty simple on Photoshop..

  4. Thank you so much!!!

    In my case I’ve found that I like more to leave in ‘normal’ the layer mode that you recommended to set on ‘divide’, it looks more sketchy.

    After that I duplicate again the original background, I place it on top of the inverted edge-mask layer and set the layer mode to HARD LIGHT.

    With this short tutorial you just open some new dimension to me.


  5. I can’t follow the instruction Layers->Colors->Invert
    I do not have the colors after layers so I can’t do Invert

    Might be missing something, using gimp 2.6.1

  6. Awesome tutorial!

    Try using a Selective Gaussian Blur (Filter-Blur-Selective Gauassian Blur) after and/or Cartoon (Filter-Artistic-Cartoon.

    Also might want to mess with giving it an Unsharp Mask (Filter-Enhance-Unsharp Mask!


  7. sometimes screwing around with posterize and van gough and then the “cartoon” filter gets a real good product

    trust me
    mess around with filters and posterize, fellow cartooners

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  9. I get much closer to the effect shown in the example pictures if I chose dodge instead of divide. But it’s still not the same.
    Please, if someone knows how to create the original effect in newer versions of Gimp, post here. Thanks a lot!

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