These days you don’t need to be an experienced photo editor to turn photos into paintings. You don’t even need Photoshop. Why?
Because there’s an app for it!
Or several, in fact. Anyone with a photo, an app, and a smartphone or computer can do it.
Ready to turn photos into paintings? We give you the top paint apps available for Android, iOS and desktop platforms and then show you how the process works.
The Best Apps to Turn Photos Into Paintings
This is the app that popularized painterly photos in the first place.
Prisma is one of the most well-known and full-featured apps for turning photos into paintings. It’s also free on both iOS and Android. This has helped build the app’s popularity.
For full access to all the features, you do have to use a paid subscription for about $5 a month or $20 for a year.
Prisma now has more than 300 painting styles to apply to images. These are often based on a well-known artist’s styles like Picasso, Munch, and Salvador Dali.
Besides applying the filter, the app also allows users to adjust the results. There’s a set of sliders for photo editing. There’s adjustments like exposure, contrast, and sharpness.
Picsart is like a sort of mobile Photoshop. Users have access to more than filters and sliders, and can mix photos together and paint on effects.
If you want only part of your image to look like a painting, try PicsArt for that more advanced photo edit. The Effects gallery inside PicsArt contains many different options for turning a photo into a painting or even a sketch.
Unlike Prisma, PicsArt is more than a one trick pony. If you don’t want to go the painting route, the app has other editing options.
That means fewer apps clogging up your home screen when one app can do the job of a few. On the flip-side, that means the app takes up more space on your phone. PicsArt is one of the biggest apps on this list.
That also means PicsArt isn’t as easy as apps with only a few choices. More choices may make it harder to find the effect you are looking for. PicsArt does have tutorials to help.
PicsArt is free to download and use. But you can get more exclusive content and an ad-free app with a subscription.
The app is available for both iOS and Android.
This is one of the most full-featured apps dedicated to digital paintings.
Brushstroke has one of the best selection of tools to customize that photo to painting look.
You can choose the painting style, sure. But you can also choose the canvas type. This helps create additional variations through texture.
Many apps lock the colors in using the original painting style. Brushstroke allows users to choose a color palette too.
The extra features don’t stop after the painting styles are applied either. The app also includes the option to add your signature to your “painting.” You can also print images from the app by sending the work to CanvasPop. Video styles are also an option as well.
So what’s the downside? Brushstroke is a paid app that costs about $4. Adding video styles and additional illustration styles also comes with further in-app purchases.
But that one-time purchase isn’t as expensive as subscription apps in the long-run.
The Brushstroke app is iOS only, so Android users will have to look elsewhere.
3. Portrait Painter
As the name suggests, Portrait Painter works best on images of people and pets. There’s nothing saying you can’t upload a good landscape too. But most apps focus on landscapes and still life while Portrait Painter hones in on turning images of people into digital paintings.
Portrait Painter has several options to customize the look. You can choose to use the original colors from the image or using a brighter color palette instead.
Users can also adjust the brush type as well as the canvas type, which can leave a subtle texture in the final image.
Portrait Painter’s digital paintings don’t have to live on your smartphone and in social media. The app also includes an option to order a print of your creation through CanvasPop.
An iOS-only app, photo editors can download Portrait Painter for about $4. Video packs are available for another $1 along with new illustration effects.
Waterlougue focuses on a single type of painting — watercolor. While not as broad as other apps, the app does achieve that narrow focus well.
The app uses 14 different presets, each with different color and pen outlines. The presets also change the consistency of the “paint”. This allows you to make those colors run together or keep shapes more distinct.
The app doesn’t offer as much control over the effects as some others, but you can adjust some light and detail.
The app also doesn’t see as many updates as some others.
Want to make your photo look like a painting you actually made? Or a painting that you have hanging in your home already?
Pikazo comes with hundreds of different paint-like filters. This allows users to upload their own photo to create a new preset. The app will then try to turn an image into a piece or artwork more like the one that you uploaded.
Pikazo also allows users to control some of the results using the sliders. You can also share and print images from the app.
Photo apps with more features are great. But the more software that lets you create your own filters mixing in with a lot of pre-existing filters creates a larger app.
That means Pikazo will take up more space on your smartphone. It can run slower at times, particularly with older devices.
Pikazo is available on iOS and Android as a free download, with in app purchases for tokens to unlock more tools.
The Best Desktop Software to Turn Photos Into Paintings
2. Corel PaintShop Pro
Turning photos into paintings isn’t for the mobile apps. Corel PaintShop Pro introduced a painting tool called Pic-to-Paint in the 2019 version of the software. Users have to install the add-on pack, but it’s included with the price of the software.
PaintShop Pro’s plug-in works much in the same way as the apps do.Users can choose from different painting styles. The only customization options are the strength of the effects. You can further adjust the image inside PaintShop once you are done.
As a desktop program that also includes other image editing tools, PaintShop Pro isn’t as affordable as the apps.
But it can be less than a Photoshop subscription in the long run — the full version runs for about $99.
Free photo editing apps aren’t limited to smartphones. Fotor is an online image editor. This means there’s no software to download. The software’s GoArt tool turns photos into paintings in several different styles.
Because the software is online, the conversion process can be slow. Especially if you have a slow internet connection.
But, the program is free to use. And it also includes a good selection of artistic styles (some of them paid, but a majority free).
Fotor’s image editor is accessible online, but the GoArt is a separate platform here.
How to Make a Photo Look Like a Painting
There are many different apps that turn photos into paintings. But the process typically follows a similar process.
After downloading the app, you’ll next have to upload the photo that you’d like to convert. The original quality of the photo plays a major role in the result.
Images with more contrasting colors work best. But soft focus images can also look good converted into paintings.
Some apps work best for landscapes and still life. Others are ideal for portraits.
Next, you’ll choose the painting style that you want. Many apps will offer different styles based on famous painters or classical art styles. Once you’ve chosen the art style and the image, the process is automatic.
In some apps, you can adjust the painting effect. Once you’re finished, you can export the painted image for sharing or printing.
Fitting large AI programs on a small device is challenging. This is why many apps will require an internet or data connection in order to connect with a cloud that stores that AI.
The apps also differ in the number and quality of painting styles. Some also add painting styles to videos too.
The process to turn photos into paintings may be simple, but what app do you choose? Here are some of the best apps that turn photos into art.
Converting a snapshot into digital art is a fun way to jazz up an otherwise boring photo. The process can make a statement, create shareable images, or even decorate your walls.
Thanks to developments in AI tech, finding a program to make the conversion for you is an easy task, on any budget.