I'm trying to reproduce an effect on an image a client has given me, but I can't seem to tell what was used

enter image description here

enter image description here

Personally I think someone's drawn this themselves partly, for example the beard and his face don't seem to match perfect the photo, but the stray hair on the left of his face and the white spots on his shirt in the bottom right corner are perfect matches.

Was this a simple effect? Or did someone draw most of this with a style in mind?

If it is just an effect, how could I apply it to another image using Photoshop or Gimp or so?


5 Answers 5


The mobile app Prisma has some filters that get really close to this effect.


I'm not absolutely certain, but the 'swirls' on the cheek & cap are very reminiscent of older versions of Studio Artist

The current version doesn't have so many presets with that 'swirly paint' so I've been struggling to find something like it...

Best I can do for now, but it shows the 'swirl' effect that used to be in most of the paint styles

enter image description here

I'll keep looking...

  • Well you certainly got closer than I got so far Mar 21, 2018 at 20:43
  • Wow that program certainly isn't the most intuitive lol Mar 21, 2018 at 20:56
  • I really like it, but yeah.. it's pick a preset, see what it does. Use it or pick another ;) tbh I would normally clean up in photoshop first, to give it a more definite 'start point'
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 22, 2018 at 7:13

It looks like the effect described on this page on "quora", where they use the GIMP with the G'MIC plugin ("ink-wash" filter to a new layer, and then some layer mixing), trying to imitate the Prisma app.


Maybe you could try the Oil Paint filter: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2397052

  • It's a good suggestion, but the Oil Paint filter keeps too much of the detail, regardless of settings. It's got the right swirlyness though Mar 22, 2018 at 13:19

The keyword you're looking for is rotoscoping.

To see it in action, take a look at the music video for 'Destiny' by Zero 7.

Or indeed the motion picture 'A Scanner Darkly'.

  • I don't think this was rotoscoped by hand. It lacks the context-awareness that a human artist would have used, for example in the jacket or in the transition between forehead and hat.
    – mattdm
    Mar 22, 2018 at 3:45
  • 1
    Also, rotoscoping is an animation technique involving redrawing. It doesn't in and of itself get the effect shown by OP (of course, you could probably do the rotoscoping with that effect, but that's not the question)
    – remco
    Mar 22, 2018 at 8:15
  • 1
    Sure, I accept both of those points, but if the OP (or a future reader) just wants a keyword to use when searching for "filters", then rotoscoping is as good as you're going to get.
    – osullic
    Mar 22, 2018 at 10:19
  • There are plenty of automated digital filters that are named based on the analog/manual process they are designed to mimic. So yes, searching for a 'rotoscoping' filter might be helpful.
    – Michael C
    Mar 23, 2018 at 12:05

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