Apps that turn photos into drawings offer a wonderful way to get more creative with your iPhone photography. With a simple drawing filter you can easily turn your photo into a work of art, making it appear sketched with pencil, chalk, charcoal, marker pens, and more. If you’re looking for a way to expand the creative possibilities of your iPhone photo editing, check out these 7 fantastic apps that turn photos into drawings and sketches.
The Artomaton app (free to download from the App Store) provides a variety of drawing and painting options such as oil, sketch, color pencil, charcoal and marker.
After opening your image in the app and choosing your drawing resolution/image size (up to 4096 pixels), simply select your preferred art tool to apply the effect to your photo.
In the images below, you can see the difference between the Color Pencil effect (left) and the Marker effect (right).
You can then adjust line thickness, density and stroke length, as well as color saturation, brightness, contrast and color randomness. If you like, you can also add a margin or vignette around the image.
There are 5 standard art tools and 11 standard canvas materials available within the free version of the Artomaton app.
There are a few unique features of this app too. You’re able to choose the angle of the light on the canvas, and you can record your drawing process as a video to watch later.
Another interesting feature is image distortion. If you like, you can distort your image based on a scale.
Once your edits are complete, save your photo in high resolution to ensure you have the best quality image.
If like to perform all of your photo editing within a single app – from basic edits to turning your photos into drawings – the Enlight app ($3.99) is a great option.
It’s a comprehensive app that offers image correction, photography filters, painterly and drawing effects, as well as other decorative touches.
To turn your photo into a drawing, you’ll need to use the Sketch tool within the Artistic section of the app. There you’ll find 16 different sketch presets which vary in terms of hatching and strokes.
Once you’ve chosen a preset, you can customize the effect by tapping Tools at the bottom of the screen.
One of the great things about Enlight is that you can mask your image. Masking allows you to apply effects to only certain parts of the photo.
After tapping the Mask tool at the bottom of the screen, use the selection tools to select which parts you wish to be sketched and which parts you wish to remain untouched.
The Mask tool is “edge-aware” which means it’s easier to be more precise with the areas you select.
When you’re satisfied with your edits, tap the Share icon to save your image in high resolution.
If you’d like to learn more about the editing tools available in Enlight, check out our in-depth Enlight app tutorial complete with instructional videos.
3. Handy Photo
The Handy Photo app ($2.99) does a little of everything, from retouch editing and textures to frames and filters.
You’ll find the Sketch tool in the Filters section, along with 22 additional photo filters.
You can adjust the edge intensity, lightness, and overall filter strength of your sketch using the icon at the bottom left of the screen.
Like Enlight, this app allows for edge-aware masking so that you can apply the sketch effect to just a part of your image. You can also use a linear gradient mask or elliptical gradient mask for further control over which areas of the photos appear sketched.
iColorama-S ($2.99) is an extremely versatile app offering many different choices for painterly styles, including a sketch style which lets you turn your photo into a drawing.
After importing your photo into the app, you’ll need to select a resolution size – select the highest resolution for the best quality image. Next, tap Menu to see a list of categories.
The Sketch tool is under the Style section. There are 14 different Sketch options viewable once you tap the Preset icon. To adjust the strength of the sketch effect, use the Opacity slider at the bottom of the screen.
If you’d like to do more adjusting, tap the Set icon at the bottom right to change the level of shadows and edging.
When you save your image, it will be saved in the resolution size that you chose when you imported it.
5. Imaengine Vector Camera
If you want to convert your photo into vector art which produces simple geometric objects, the free Imaengine Vector Camera app is an excellent option. The resulting images have a distinctly artificial or computerized look.
After you import your photo into the app, you’ll see 30 filter options that can convert your photo into two-tone stencils, original Pop-Art drawings and other types of sketches.
You can adjust the detail, colors and stroke length for each filter using the setting sliders below the image.
Below are four filter examples (Plastic, HI-FI, Ink Drawing and Glossy Lips) to give you an idea of the variety of drawing styles that you can create with this app.
When you’re ready to save your edit, tap the Share icon to save a high resolution image in either JPG or PNG format.
6. Perfect Image
After opening the app, tap the Filter icon on the first screen to edit an image from your photo library. You’ll find 5 different filter types under the Filter section. The Pencil and Cartoon sketch options are in the Art subsection.
Although there are no intensity adjustments for these effects, the Perfect Image app allows you to mask your photo and stack different filters. Stacking filters is where you can apply one filter and then apply another filter on top of it. This can lead to some really unique effects.
Once your edits are complete, you can save your image in high resolution.
The free Prisma app transforms your photos into painterly artwork using the styles of famous artists and unique patterns.
When you open the Prisma app and import your photo, you’ll see more than 30 filters to choose from. You can also tap the Store icon to download new style releases.
There are several filters that produce a great sketch effect, including Curly Hair, Heisenberg, #GettUrban, Urban, Light Summer Reading and Daryl Feril.
There are only subtle differences between some of these styles. Below you can see Heisenberg, #GettUrban and Light Summer Reading.
To adjust the intensity of the filter, simply slide your finger across the screen. Sliding to the left decreases the intensity while sliding to the right increases it.
Prisma also offers an online community where you can share the images you create with others.
Unfortunately, the one downside of this app is that it doesn’t save your photos at full resolution – so your edited photo will be smaller (fewer pixels) than the original image. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re only planning to view or share the photos on a screen, but if you try printing the image at a large size you may see a reduction in image quality.
Apps That Turn Photos Into Drawings: Conclusion
While all 7 apps listed in this article offer similar filters and effects, each app creates a slightly different drawing style and some offer more customization tools than others. So it’s definitely worth try out a few different apps to achieve the specific effect that you desire.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that this kind of editing style usually works best on images with strong light and shadow contrast, simple minimalist scenes, portraits and architecture. However, feel free to try out sketch effects on any photo – you never know what the end result might be!
Once you’ve applied a drawing effect to your image, you may also want to try adding a painterly style such as watercolor, oil painting, etc.
Painterly effects often look great when combined or layered with drawing effects, and many of the apps listed here also have a range of painterly filters. Check out this tutorial where you can learn more about using apps to turn your photos into paintings.
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