How to Convert a Picture to Watercolor in GIMP

Written by shawn radcliffe
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How to Convert a Picture to Watercolor in GIMP
Image-editing software enables you to make digital photos look like watercolour paintings. ( Images)

Watercolour is a painting technique that uses water-based paints. Artists such as Cézanne and Whistler both employed watercolour in some of their paintings. Using free image-editing software such as GIMP, you can convert digital photos into a picture that resembles a watercolour painting. This opens up new possibilities for displaying and sharing your favourite photos.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open the picture that you want to convert to watercolour in GIMP. Click on the "File" menu, choose "Open," browse to the photo file and click "Open."

  2. 2

    Select the image layer by clicking on it in the "Layers, Channels, Paths..." window.

  3. 3

    Duplicate the layer. Click on the "Create a duplicate of the layer..." button below the list of layers in the "Layers, Channels, Paths..." window. Make sure the duplicate layer is selected.

  1. 1

    Desaturate the duplicate layer. Click on the "Tools" menu, select "Color Tools" and then "Desaturate." Leave "Lightness" selected in the dialogue box and click "OK."

  2. 2

    Click on the "Colors" menu and select "Curves." Leave the channel drop-down as "Value."

  3. 3

    Click on and drag the diagonal line in the "Adjust Color Curves" window until you have the desired amount of grayscale. Click "OK" to save the settings.

  1. 1

    Drag the original layer in the "Layers, Channels, Paths..." window so it is above the duplicate layer.

  2. 2

    Change the mode of the original layer to "Color" in the "Mode" drop-down.

  3. 3

    Save the modified image as a new file. Click on the "File" menu and choose "Save a copy."

Tips and warnings

  • Adjusting the colour curves may take several attempts, and settings will vary with the picture being adjusted.

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