I recently found out about Waterlogue . It is an app for iPhone and iPad that lets you transform photos into painterly, aquarelle-pencil-style "paintings".

Information how it is done is scant but we are told that it is done with 12 layers building lighter to darker colours up. And that it is very difficult, mimicking the process a human painter uses.

How can I create something like it with Gimp, Photoshop or any other laptop application?


Examples from the Waterlogue Blog

Before After

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried to google "Watercolor effect photoshop" or "watercolor effect gimp"? Thousands of tutorials exist, in written and video form. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Mar 11, 2014 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpollittI think the point is that this particular tool claims to be more sophisticated than typical tools and workflows for watercolor effects, and wants to replicate that added sophistication in specific, not just any somewhat similar filter. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 11, 2014 at 5:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ And the examples do look better than most such fully-automatic conversations to me, although I'm not sure to what degree this is just because they picked images which happen to work well. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 11, 2014 at 5:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm if you look at results from users (search FB, G+ for #waterlogue) look also very good. Not likely that this is a case of cherry picking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Unapiedra
    Mar 11, 2014 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


I've been reading (and really appreciating) the Q/A's on this site for quite awhile now, but this is my first foray into making a comment - so please forgive me if I'm off track.

You asked "How can I create something like it with Gimp, Photoshop or any other laptop application?".

I'm not sure if you are asking about the technical side of how the application might be doing this, or whether there's an application that you could use on your laptop to get this effect. If the latter, I've used a free program called "FotoSketcher" a few times. I can't comment on whether it's more or less sophisticated that the Waterlogue app, or any other "painting" type photo app, as I haven't tried them. My sense of it is that it's a bit primitive, but nonetheless kind of interesting and fun to experiment with. You can choose from a number of different painting "effect" (e.g. oil, watercolour; textures or not) and then watch it "paint" your photo with these. It's slow (at least was on my computer), so I found it best to use a relatively small jpg rather than a large file as that would have taken forever. There are probably other free programs out there that do this kind of thing as well.


If you have a windows pc 64bit, you can use a piece of software called "The Watercolorist" which I wrote. It simulates wet-on-dry watercolor painting. Waterlogue seems to simulate wet-on-wet as well but it is an effect that's not always wanted. Also, waterlogue can leave the white of the canvas showing, something that is usually the mark of a quickly watercolor.

Here's the link to "turn photo into painting" software which includes "The Watercolorist":


In particular, check http://3dstereophoto.blogspot.com/2018/07/non-photorealistic-rendering-software_41.html for a description of "The Watercolorist" software and see what it can do from a photograph.

Disclaimer: The links are to my blog.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This looks like your blog — can you clarify that in the link? (And, if it's your software, absolutely do so.) Thanks! (See the help center section on "how not to be a spammer") \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jul 10, 2018 at 16:31

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