Gimp Tips - Charcoal Drawing

I'm always looking for ways to make a photograph look like a drawing. But it's hard to do well. I saw a really nice technique for Photoshop recently. I couldn't reproduce their steps in GIMP, but it inspired me to try again on my own. Here's what I came up with.

  1. adorable picture of my son Open your picture. Of course, yours won't be as adorable as mine, but you'll have to make do. Crop in to your subject pretty closely. We'll be masking out the background.
  2. desaturated picture of my son Colors|Desaturate using luminosity
  3. funny crosshatch pattern Add a new white layer and push it down below your photo. Next make another new layer between the white layer and your photo. Fill that middle layer with the pattern "Paper (100 x 100)".
  4. sketchy looking picture Set the mode on the photo layer to "Hard light".
  5. higher contrast sketch Adjust the brightness and contrast to get the look you want. I turned both up about 50 in this case. Higher contrast gives it a more sketch-like look. Then adjust the brightness so it doesn't look too heavy. When it looks right, do Merge Down on the photo layer.
  6. selection around my subject Make a selection around the subject of your picture, but leave a little room. The selection doesn't have to be very precise, we're going to blur it in a minute anyway.
  7. the background is now cut out Add a layer mask to the photo layer using your selection. Then Select|None.
  8. softer cutout of the background Do Filters|Blur|Gaussian Blur on the layer mask. Choose a blur radius about equal to the distance you left around your subject when you did the selection. I used 20 here.
  9. charcoal sketch of my son Now spruce it up a bit. I did Colors|Colorize and used hue:40 and saturation: 25. Obviously, you can color it however you want and try putting it on different backgrounds.