FotoSketcher review

Transform ordinary photos into oil paintings, watercolors or pencil sketches

FotoSketcher is an amazing free photo editor for transforming ordinary photos into digital paintings
FotoSketcher is an amazing free photo editor for transforming ordinary photos into digital paintings

TechRadar Verdict

FotoSketcher is a superb free app for transforming ordinary photos into stunning paintings or drawings. It's far more powerful and versatile than the artistic filters built into most general purpose image editors.


  • +

    Extremely easy to use

  • +

    Realistic simulation of traditional artistic media

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    Highly customizable


  • -

    Only three file export formats

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The popularity of Instagram led to a new market for apps that do clever things with photos – the likes of Prisma, for instance – and free Windows app FotoSketcher brings very much the same idea to the desktop.

With a few clicks of your mouse, you can transform a mundane photo into something really special. It doesn't matter if you're not comfortable using powerful photo editing software – the program takes care of all the complex processing, letting you create something spectacular.


Where to download:

Type: Photo editor

Developer: David Thorion

Operating system: Windows, Mac

Version: 3.3

Fotosketcher's ease of use and range of filters is impressive, but that's not all it has to offer. In addition to its realistic simulation of traditional media, it can also be used as a basic photo editor. All the essential tools you would expect can be found here: rotating, cropping, contrast adjustment, automatic color level tweaking and so on.

If you want to get really adventurous, FotoSketcher even supports scripting, enabling you to apply several effects to an image in one go.

There really isn't very much to complain about with FotoSketcher, but some users might be disappointed by the fairly limited number of image formats that creations can be saved in – JPEG, PNG or BMP only.

User experience

FotoSketcher is a joy to use from start to finish. The main screen is split into two, with the left side showing the source image and the right providing a preview of the results based on the filters and effects you've selected.

When you're ready to get creative, hit the artist's palette button and take your pick from a wide range of drawing styles to give your image a unique look. Each effect is ripe for tweaking and tinkering; for example, you can select the minimum size of brush strokes, the precision of oil pastels and the length of pencil lines. You also have the option of adding a frame and choosing a canvas texture. The effects are surprisingly convincing, and even the completely uninitiated will be able to create something impressive very quickly.

If you want to experiment, you can try using a manual brush to apply an effect to just a portion of your photo; this gives you the option of using multiple effects on a single image. If you're particularly enamored with an effect, batching processing means you can apply it to a set of photos at once.

If you choose the watercolor setting you'll see your converted picture being built up using layers of brushstrokes as it's converted - a particularly nice touch that you'll appreciate if your PC is a little slow and conversion takes a while.

Latest updates

The latest version of FotoSketcher lets you click the progress bar to stop an image being processed at a certain point. You can also click a button in the top right for a larger preview when opening an image. For more details, check out the full release notes.

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Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson
Freelance writer

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 25 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.

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