15 Apps to Turn Photos into Sketches & Drawings

Want to turn your photos into a sketch or drawing? Discover the best free iPhone & Android apps that help you create art out of your photography in 2023.

Mobile Apps | Software | By Ana Mireles and Stephan Jukic | Last Updated: August 10, 2023

Are you passionate about digital art and want an app that lets you turn a picture into a drawing?

The good news is that there are tons of great apps that let you turn photos into sketches, drawings, watercolors, and so much more.

Whether you’re after ipad photo edting apps or their versions for smartphones, this guide will let you understand which ones are worth your time.

Thankfully, most of the apps that turn pictures into drawings are free to download, so you can get started with your creations today.

Check out our selection to find out which drawing app is best for you!

What App Turns Photos into Sketches?

If you’re interested in creating digital art with software, you’ll find a great tool to unleash your creativity for turning a photo into sketch graphics among these apps.

While there are tons of options on the market, we’ve narrowed it down to 15 of the best for creating sketch effects. We’ve aimed to cover a wide range of needs – it’s up to you to choose which one suits you.

Some of the apps on this list are simple and easy to use for those who want to apply the effects as a filter and share it online.

Others offer a wide variety of editing tools and great control over the preset effects so that you can create your own style.

Any of these apps can show you how to convert a photo into a sketch in mobile, but each has unique features that might be better for the sketches you’re hoping to create.

1. Colorcinch

Turn photos into sketches with Colorcinch

  • Best in class AI-powered effects
  • Ultra-realistic sketcher, cartoonizer, painter
  • Fully adjustable
  • Frames, overlays, masks
  • Background remover and other retouch tools

Colorcinch is an intuitive and powerful photo-to-drawing app famously known for its vast collection of AI-powered artistic effects. With a single click, you’re able to turn your photos into ultra-realistic sketches, paintings, cartoons and more.

You’re also able to customize the intensity, clarity, and overall look and feel of any effect to suit your creative needs. Furthermore, Colorcinch allows you to stylize your artwork with the use of overlays, masks, photo frames, and other retouch tools.

The free version of this photo-to-illustration app offers some great filters and basic editing tools. You can upgrade to its premium plan, which starts at $4.99, to unlock all features and get higher-resolution exports.

2. Clip2Comic

Turn photos into sketches with Clip2Comic

Download: iOS

  • Video filters
  • Photo filters
  • In-app camera
  • High Resolution
  • Retouch tools
  • Deformation tools
  • Integrated printing service

Clip2Comic is a picture-to-drawing app that allows you to apply cartoon filters to your photos and videos. You can use the camera in the app to preview the effects in real time, or you can upload and modify the ones in your gallery.

You can choose from cartoons, posters, sketches, comics and many others to create fun effects which you can further customize with the retouching and deformation tools.

Share your creations straight from the app to your social media profiles, or print them using the in-app services to turn photos into postcards or greeting cards – with free shipping.

This picture-to-sketch app is only available for iOS devices, and the video functionality is compatible with newer models starting with the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, iPad Air Mini.

To unlock all the content, you need to upgrade to a premium version for a monthly fee of $1.99, or a lifetime subscription of $40.99.

3. Prisma

Prisma app

Download: Android / iOS

  • Photo editing tools
  • Hundreds of styles
  • A new filter every day

Prisma is an amazing convert-photo-to-drawing app and photo editor that allows you to turn photos into creative digital art with ease and control.

Choose from any of the hundreds of filters, and you can transform your images with just one tap.

You can also enhance your photo before the filter and fine-tune the filter afterward. This way, you’ll be sure to get the best results.

Once you’re satisfied, you can share your images with the ever-growing community of creators, post them to your social media profiles or download them to your phone.

The free version of this app that can turn pictures into illustrations only has a few available filters, however. To get full access, you need to get a premium membership for $7.99 a month or $29.99 per year.

4. Painnt

Artworks created with Painnt app

Download: Android / iOS

  • 2000+ filters
  • powered by AI
  • New presets added regularly
  • Custom filters

Give free rein to your creativity with over 2,000 filters so you can turn photos into drawings.

It doesn’t matter what your style is, you’ll find an effect that suits you – whether it’s a charcoal sketch or impressionistic brushstrokes.

You can also do your own customized filters and adjust the transparency, contrast, saturation, etc., with the editing tools.

Keep in mind that the free version is limited and will only allow you to output the images in low resolution with a watermark.

The premium subscription of this app that illustrates pictures costs $1.99 per month or $9.99 per year and gives you full access to the filter library.

Additionally, you’ll be able to export your images and videos in the highest quality and remove watermarks.

5. Watercolor Effect Oil Painting

Watercolor effect app iphone

Download: Android / iOS

  • 1-click effects
  • 15+ watercolor filters
  • In-app camera

If you like watercolor paintings, this is the perfect photo-to-sketch app for you.

With its 15+ filters, you can take any of the photos in your gallery or shoot a new photo and turn it into a work of art.

It has multiple styles for you to choose from – digital painting, modern art, and contemporary art styles, just to name a few.

This app is available for Android, iPhone and iPad. It has a 3-day trial period – then you can choose from the two subscription plans: $3.99 per week or $29.99 per year.

You can also change photos into paintings with these apps.

6. Sketch Me! Sketch & Cartoon

Sketch me app

Download: Android

  • Multiple filters
  • Customizable effects

If you’re looking for an app that’s straightforward and really lets you convert photos into sketches, this is the one for you.

You won’t have a photo editor or tons of filters (sometimes paid separately) like in other apps, but this is what makes it light and easy to use.

With this app, you can turn photos into a sketch, a drawing or a cartoon with a very simple user interface.

You can further personalize the effect by controlling the edge strength, opacity, contrast and saturation.

Then you can save or share your creations. The is the best photo-to-sketch app that I’ve used, and the best news is it’s free, including all the effects and tools (though there is a paid option to remove the ads).

7. PhotoMania: Effects & Cards

PhotoMania app

Download: Android / iOS

  • Auto-Enhance
  • Filters
  • Borders
  • Photo-effects
  • Card templates

This photo editor and drawing app lets you tune up your photos with editing tools and apply all sorts of filters to add your personal flair.

The multiple filters include painting and sketch effects, and you can turn photos and creations into e-cards that you can send to your friends and family.

Unlock the full array of filters and tools with in-app purchases or become a pro member. The app is compatible with Android, iPhone and iPad.

8. ToonMe – Cartoon Photo Editor

ToonMe app to turn an image into a cartoon

Download: iOS

  • In-app camera
  • AI engine
  • Layouts
  • Cartoon effects

With ToonMe, you can turn photos or selfies into a cartoon.

It uses artificial intelligence to create more realistic effects. You can choose the style that you like the most to look like your favorite characters.

You can follow the #toonme challenge to stay connected with other creators and get inspired. As you improve your skills, you can also customize the effects.

The free download will only get you so far – you can then unlock features and presets with in-app purchases or a PRO subscription starting at $4.99 per month or $24.99 per year.

9. Photo Sketch Maker

Photo Sketch Maker app

Download: Android

  • Sketch tool
  • Watercolor effect
  • Drawing effect
  • In-app camera

This app is an easy and effective way to convert photos into drawings or turn a photo into a sketch. Simply choose a photo or take a new one – crop it if you need to, and you’re ready to go.

Apply a sketch effect or any of the drawing styles to your photo, then use your favorite color pencil and save your creation when you’re satisfied.

Photo Sketch Maker is completely free to download and use, though they do offer a paid version to get rid of the ads.

If you need to turn a picture into sketch lines quickly, I highly recommend you give it a go.

10. Artomaton

Artomaton AI app to turn photo into sketch

Download: iOS

  • AI
  • Multiple painting materials
  • Textures
  • Customizable tools
  • Fullscreen
  • Save work-in-progress
  • Hand-drawn animation

Its creators define Artomaton as an artificial intelligence artist – mainly because it can paint and draw based on your photos and videos.

Choose the canvas material (11 provided – 10 more available), use any of the art tools (5 provided – 8 more available), and start creating. You can further customize the tools and adjust line thickness, stroke length, etc.

The AI will analyze the photo to apply the filters – the entire process can be saved as a video. Also, you can apply the effects to your videos and create hand-drawn animations. Artomaton is great as a photo to drawing app.

11. Waterlogue

Waterlogue apps to turn photos into watercolour art

Download: iOS

  • Watercolor effects
  • High-resolution
  • 14 preset styles
  • Customizable tools

This app turns photos into watercolor paintings, and it gives you a great deal of control for some pretty amazing results. So, if you want a sketch effect or a drawing effect, this isn’t quite the app for you.

You can start with any of its 14 preset styles and customize it by changing the colors, pen outlines and wetness.

Create amazing works of art with your iPhone or iPad and then export them in high resolution. You can then even print these to make a canvas copy and hang it on your wall.

12. Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture screenshots

Download: Android / iOS

  • Selfie filters
  • Artwork effects
  • In-app camera
  • Virtual museum tours
  • Find your artwork double

This is a fantastic app that gives you a lot of fun choices to work with your photos using tools inspired by famous portrait artists.

You can apply any of the artistic filters to your images and turn a photo into drawings or into works of art inspired by the great masters of art history.

Another fun feature is that you can take a selfie with painterly effects using artifacts from famous artworks around the world.

You can even use your photos to find which painting looks like you and where it is. You might even be able to visit that museum and take a selfie with your ‘art double’.

This app is free to use and has tons of other functions such as virtual museum visits, art-related games and quizzes. It also offers the ability to browse artworks by color, DIY activities, etc.

13. Varnist

Varnist drawing app to turn photos into sketches

Download: Android

  • AI engine
  • Multiple styles
  • In-app camera

In this app, you’ll find multiple options to turn a photo into sketch art.

Choose a drawing filter and turn your images into manga, or use a cartoon effect. Some of the filters are based on the style of famous artists like Picasso or Afremov.

If you want something out of the ordinary with this photo to sketch app, you can use natural effects like fire and lightning or use any of the offered textures. Varnist helps you create illustrations that express the life in your photos.

Some sketch styles come for free, and others you have to buy – the prices range from $0.99 to $9.99 per item.

14. iColorama S

iColorama art application

Download: iOS

  • 300+ effects
  • Import Photoshop brushes
  • Steps history
  • Before/After

This picture-to-sketch app has a wide array of filters that you can use to turn photos into pieces of digital art. If you’re not satisfied with the presets as they are, there are multiple tools available to customize them.

You can also draw on top of your picture to create a completely original look. There are many brushes included, and you can import more free brushes from Photoshop.

Unlike other apps, this one doesn’t have in-app purchases – it’s a one-time payment for lifetime full access. This is a good thing, except that it means there’s no free version of it.

This app is only available for iPhone devices.

15. BrushStroke

BrushStroke for iOS

Download: iOS

  • Artwork presets
  • Video filters
  • Printing services
  • Sign your work

This is the best photo to drawing app to unleash the artist in you – it even allows you to sign your artwork.

With Brushstroke, you can transform your pics using artistic filters and customize the effect for better results.

From the app, you can then share your creations on social media or send them to print and frame on CanvasPop. Here, you can choose the size and frame and have your work delivered to your home or someone else’s address.

This app’s video feature is available for iPhone 5S, iPad Air, iPod Touch 6, or newer devices.

How to Turn a Photo into a Sketch with Photoshop

  • Start with a base photo of a sketchbook. Then paste (as a second layer) the image that you want to turn into a sketch.
  • Resize and position the top layer. Then, use a layer mask to hide all the areas that you won’t need in the final picture and use a soft edge brush to erase the hard borders of the subject.
  • Add a white solid color layer in between the two layers that you currently have.
  • Select the top layer and the white layer. Then, right-click on them and choose Convert to Smart Object.
  • Now that both layers are one smart object change the Blend Mode to Multiply – this will hide the white background of the smart object.
  • Go to the menu Filter, Filter Gallery. Open the folder Sketch and choose the filter Graphic Pen.
  • Adjust the settings of the filter if you want, or leave the default values if you’re satisfied with how it looks. Then click OK to apply.
  • Double-click on the right side of the layer in the Layers panel – this will open the Layer Style dialog box. At the bottom, you’ll find the Blend If section – hold the Alt key and click on the right slider of the Underlaying Layer and drag it to the left until you see a little bit of the texture coming through the sketch. Click OK to apply – you can come back to it and adjust it as many times as you want.
  • Now decrease the Opacity of the layer so that the blacks are not so dark. This way, it will look more like a pencil drawing.
  • Finally, go to the menu Filters, Blur, Gaussian Blur. Move the slider so that the sketch loses some sharpness – this will make it more realistic. If your image was too blurry to start with, these apps should help.

These are the basic steps you can take to convert photos into sketches with photoshop without downloading any other apps to your devices.

How to turn a Photo into a Sketch on Mac & Windows for Free

If you want to turn photos into drawings, paintings or sketches without having to learn complicated photo editing programs like Photoshop or Gimp, you can use FotoSketcher.

FotoSketcher is a free program with more than twenty effects. This means you can choose between watercolor, cartoon, ink, pencil sketches, oil paintings and even abstract art effects.

More advanced users can create their own effects using the script function. You can also do some basic photo retouching for touchups to contrast, saturation, luminosity, etc.

FotoSketcher is designed for Windows – but they’re also working on a Mac version. Currently, there’s an experimental iOS software edition compatible with MacOS 10.14 (Mojave).

This drawing app is free even for commercial use – so feel free to sell the artwork you create with it. You can always support the FotoSketcher team by donating through the button on their website.

Final Words

I hope these apps and software solutions gave you enough tools to turn photos into other forms of digital art.

Have you tried using any of these editing tools yet? Let us know in the comments which one is your favorite!


Do I keep the copyright to my edited photos?

While copyright law can sometimes veer off into the ambiguous, generally you’re fine with full ownership of your photos after you’ve passed them through the above apps and tools that let you turn a photo into a sketch. The original photo should of course itself not be in copyright violation.

Are Photo-to-sketch apps safe to use on my device?

Most apps of all kinds ask for certain permissions when you download them to your phone. These might include viewing your photos, tracking you personally, or connecting to your data plan. If this causes you privacy concerns you should avoid them, but if you’re worried about the apps ranked above being malware, they’re not. Nonetheless, always confirm that you’re downloading an authentic version of any app.

Is there a ‘turn drawings into real life app’?

Canvas is a free tool that turns your drawings into realistic landscape images. There’s also a more recent AI tool called Diffuse The Rest that transforms simple doodles into real life.

Shotkit Writer & Camera Gear Reviewer

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.



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