Browse the “Effects” or “Filters” section of most image editors and you’ll often find tools which try to convert your pictures into sketches, oil paintings and more. But they’re usually basic, short on configuration options, and don’t deliver great results.
AKVIS OilPaint (and 64-bit) is a commercial tool for Windows and Mac which specialises in transforming your images into works of art. It’s expensive – $49 to $89, depending on the license – but the 10-day trial is full and unrestricted, so if you’re interested in the idea then there’s enough to justify the download.
You don’t just get one or two “Oil painting” options to choose from, for instance – the program has more than 40 preset styles. Each has eight variables which may be customised individually – Simplicity, Saturation, Max Stroke Length, Stroke Thickness/ Intensity/ Curvature, Wide Background Strokes, Random Strokes – to get the effect you need.
Not enough? If you need even more control, the Home Deluxe and Business editions of the program also allow you to define the stroke direction. If there’s a sloping area in the image, say, you could have the strokes run parallel to it, rather than follow whatever random pattern your chosen algorithm would generate on its own.
There’s almost as much flexibility in defining the canvas. Other tools might stop at selecting a material, but here you’re able to set the canvas scale, pattern, brightness and position of a light source, prominence, distortion effect and more.
You also have an option to add text, or maybe an image watermark, perhaps a scan of a handwritten signature.
Finished masterpieces may be saved locally, or if they’re really impressive you’re able to share them directly on Twitter, Flickr, Google+ and Dropbox.
This isn’t as easy to use as it could be. The interface is sometimes awkward, there were odd unexpected problems (Help refused to appear, so we had to find and open it manually), and at prices starting from $49 it’s not cheap.
Still, if you’re looking to fine-tune your work then AKVIS OilPaint (and 64-bit) gives you an amazing amount of configurability. And the 10-day trial doesn’t watermark or restrict your saved images in any way (other than the not-for-commercial-use license), which is really quite generous.
But if it’s still too expensive for you, don’t forget, there’s always the freeware FotoSketcher. It doesn’t give you nearly as many options as OilPaint, but the program’s presets are arguably more realistic, and they cover a wider range of artistic styles.