What I do (Part IV)

Now it is time to put the finishing touches on the photodoodle.

First I want to blow up the image to a width of 1500.  I don’t always do this last – sometimes I will even shrink an image down early in the process, run some effects on it, and then blow it back up.  But the effect of increasing the size starts becoming apparent the more modifications added on afterwards, so I try to keep it to a minimum by doing it last.

Next I start looking at a few effects to make the photodoodle look less like a photo.  The “Jagged Edge” filter is one I use a lot – I like the dynamic feel it gives.  But the filter has some problems, particularly when dealing with photos that have a lot of white or black, so I went with Fuzzy Edge instead.


In this case I also want to add a canvas overlay.  I don’t always do that, but in this case I still have some concerns about the picture looking too much like a photograph, so I take an extra step to differentiate it.


Then I put a frame around it.  I think a frame makes the work look more finished, but I usually don’t spend a lot of time on it.  Typically I use the “Double Border” tool at it’s default settings.

Lastly I put the copyright information on, using  EG Copyright




Sorry for the delay in releasing the rest of the series on the making of a photodoodle – we had a day-long power outage on Wednesday, and I had to help some friends with their 98 year old mom on Friday.

Thursday I take total responsibility for.

Anyway, to continue.

Now we get to the fun part – deciding which special effects to apply to the picture.  There are lots and lots to choose from but in this case I am going to concentrate on my “go to” effect of “Oilify”.

Oilify gives the effect of an oil painting.  Here’s what a picture looks like with the default settings of Oilify –


Personally I seldom use the default setting because I think it leaves the picture too photorealistic.  It also does funky things with the blown out sections, as you can see.

My preference is to crank everything on Oilify up to its maximum first, and then scale back as needed.


Now this is too much – the eyes are deemphasized and the blown-out portions of the picture have consumed vast areas of the face.  Time to scale it back a little.


This one has the mask size dialed back to 20 (from 50 in the previous).  Eyes have improved a lot, though there is still too much white.

After a lot of fiddling around with the various settings, I finally decide on this –


(Mask size=14, exponent=2, mask size, exponent maps active, intensity algorithm not used)

It’s a bit more soft focus and photorealistic than I would like, but the big soft eyes come out, well, big and soft, and the white areas aren’t so prominent.

I could leave it like this – it’s a perfectly nice photodoodle after all – but I am still a bit concerned that it is too photorealistic, so next I try a few effects that might make it less so.


Cartoon – I don’t generally want my phtodoodles to look cartoony, but I do like the way the cartoon filter shades the piece.

GIMPressionist can give a wide variety of effects –




Ultimately for this piece, however, I decide I am just going to sharpen it a bit so that the “brush strokes” come out a bit more clearly.


There we go!  All ready for black velvet! (Well, almost).  Big soulful eyes still there, not too much white, and not too photorealistic.


What I do (part II)

Now that I have a composition that I am happy with, it’s time to start the creative process.  I begin to look at various alterations to the image to form the basis for the photodoodle.  Today I will look at various modifications I look at before settling on a “look” for the image.


Desaturate – I love B&W photography, so when working from a color image I always take a moment to desaturate it to see what it would look like in B&W.  The choice of color or B&W has a great effect on the final composition, so I always think carefully.


Hue – sometimes I want to change the overall hue of the picture to give a different effect, usually to turn warm colors cold or vice versa.  We’ll come back to hue in a bit.


Lightness – sometimes I will want a composition to be a bit lighter or darker than the original, so I spend a few minutes adjusting lightness.  This has the added advantage of showing me if there are parts of the photo that are overblown (as there are here) as well as emphasizing the dark or light portions of the photo.


Convolutions – I spend a few minutes experimenting with convolutions, such as this Holga filter, as well as wide-angle and fisheye effects.  It is rare that I actually use them, but they do help get the creative juices flowing in my head.


Saturation – the opposite of desaturation, this emphasizes color.  Once again, it does tend to bring out overblown areas in the photo.

For this particular photo, my muse leads me towards supersaturation as the basis for the photodoodle.  But there are those overblown areas that I want to make a stab at fixing with the appropriately named “Fix Overblown” filter.


Here’s the photo after attempting to fix the overblown portions.  A bit better, though there is still going to be a big, white blotch to contend with on the right side of the image along the side of the dog’s face.


And here’s the supersaturated image after fixing the overblown portions.

One of the troubles I sometimes have with photodoodles is that they sometimes appear too photorealistic for my taste.  In order to lessen this effect, I frequently adjust the hue of the photo by plus or minus 10.



In this particular case I don’t yet have a favorite look, though I know I want to make sure that the dog’s eyes are emphasized.  So for tomorrow I will have three images to work with when I start getting arty!

What I do

This week I thought you might enjoy going through a step-by-step process of how I create what I create.  So I am going to walk through the creation of a photodoodle!

The first thing I do is pick a photo.


So, a picture of a dog.  It isn’t a bad picture though it has a few technical problems, the most egregious of which is fogging on the left side due to overexposure or light leakage.  The eyes are well in focus, but the muzzle is a bit blurry.  A perfect photo for a photodoodle!

Step 1 is to clean up the photo a little – check for white balance and sharpness.  I don’t always go for either once I see what the photo looks like, but in this case I decided to go for both – white balance to emphasize the white patches (this is an old dog) and sharpness to help define the muzzle area further and correct the depth of field problem a bit.


Next I fiddle with cropping.  Although not as dramatic is some of the colorizing effects I will do later, cropping the photo is often the single most important step in stimulating visual interest.  I happen to be very fond of square cropping, and in this case the squarish nature of the dog’s head made it an easy choice.  After moving the cropping tool around several times, I came up with two crops that I liked in particular –



I like both of these, but in the end I decided to go for the second one as having more visual interest – the eyes are at the top intersections of the 1/3 lines, and the negative space on the right helps frame the face.

Tomorrow I start doing my computational magic!