Playing with digital images can be a pleasant pastime that becomes even relaxing if you have the right tools for the job. Just like the painter or photographer seeking to renew the style or approach of an old work searches for the best brushes or lens you’ll be on the lookout for the optimal application that can help you breathe new life into the stills you took during a holiday. Depending on the type and amount of detail you want to add to the photos, the number of files that will be processed at once and the price tag the choices are quite a few.
A free utility that brings to the table some interesting effects and a diversified set of adjustments is FotoSketcher. Just like its name clearly states, this tool will enable you to turn your pics into original drawings. It features a nice interface, with two clearly delimited areas, one for the source and the other for previewing the output in real time. The most important functions can be accessed either from the ”Edit” menu of the utility or by simply using the nicely designed buttons from the main window.
Even though it can process batches of photos, FotoSketcher will allow you to load a single file and make the desired improvements on it and the modifications will then be applied on the entire set. When choosing the picture you will work on, you’ll notice the range of supported formats, which is limited to BMP, JPG and JPEG. Another small drawback is that, for saving the drawings, the Bitmap image file format is missing, leaving you with a single choice.
Once you decide which pictures will undergo a change in aesthetics, the next logical step is to start editing. The processing can also be done in more ways than one, basically on the original image or on the drawing but there are other options waiting to be discovered and used. Thus, you can change the color settings as well as the physical dimensions of the graphical file or both and even add a text string of your choice.
Insofar as the source photo is concerned, you’ll be able to resize it by specifying the exact dimensions in pixels or in percents as compared to the initial file. You can keep the original aspect by activating the feature to preserve the image ratio but there is another option, to make it the same size as the desktop, very handy if you intend to use the picture as a screen background. The modifications that can be brought to the input image consist of luminosity, contrast and brightness as well as blur or sharpen adjustments. There is also a useful filter, simplification, for performing a noise reduction in order to prepare the photo for the next step in processing.
The most interesting place to be meddling in is the tab that hosts the drawing parameters because here you can find and use the sketching effects and functions. First off, there’s the choice of style, which ranges from pencil to painting via pen and ink. The nine presets offer you some nice-looking effects that will transform the original picture into a piece of art. Your job is to pick the ideal one and fine tune it to perfection. In doing so you’ll have as companions several scaled parameters for edge threshold and intensity, stroke length and dark or light adjustments.
In the same window of the application you have more tools for further individualizing the drawing by softening the edges, adding a frame, a different texture or even custom text. The variety of frames comprises several styles, like realistic, lined or colored, with configurable borders, while the textures, ten in all, can be light, normal or strong. The text string you can add is also highly customizable in font, color and positioning, with a shadow function ready to contribute to the personalization of your digital images. It’s worth mentioning that all the parameters you set here can be saved for later use with a simple click of the mouse or just as easily reset to their defaults. Also, note that at any point you have the possibility to use the drawing as source or revert to the original image.
All that’s left for you to do after all this backbreaking labor is push the ”Draw it!” button and then sit back and relax until the processing is complete. And time is on your side here, even though in another way than what you would expect. To be more specific, the conversion from old and boring to new, original and enticing takes quite a bit, even more than a bit if you use high-resolution images. The system resource usage is also somewhat elevated as the CPU was somewhere between 45 and 51 percent with no less than 46 MB of RAM hard at work.
FotoSketcher presents you with an original and varied choice of styles for making digital art from your digital photos. The software is easy to use and the omnipresent previews will help any user make the right choice in terms of image adjustments. The output results are of great quality and it really pays off to carefully configure the drawing parameters.
On the downside, the first thing that is instantly noticed is the lack of support for more graphical formats. Also, the lack of a help file and the slow pace when performing the drawing action coupled with the increased processor and memory usage take back some points.
On the whole, this software does a very good job and delivers nice-looking artwork even though it certainly takes its time to do so. Using it can be fun and you’ll be pleased with the results that I’m pretty sure you’ll want to share with your friends. So all that’s left to do now is take it for a spin and see what you can come up with starting from some plain old photos.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: