One Four Challenge – January Week 2…

This week for the One Four Challenge, I decided to try to make my photo look like a drawing.  I increased the saturation and then added a couple of layers to bring out the lines in the image… (for GIMP tutorial see below)…

What are you thoughts on this?  Kind thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

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I have joined a month-long photo post-processing challenge called One Four Challenge, hosted by Robyn at Captivate Me. “This challenge is about processing 1 image in 4 different ways over 4 weeks.” Every Monday Robyn posts a new version of her photo and challenges us to do the same each week.

Graphic Illustration GIMP Tutorial

GIMP Helpful Shortcuts

Windows->Single-Window Mode takes all the floating docks and puts them all in one window.

Shift-Ctrl-J — sets the image zoom to ‘fit the window’.

Shift-Ctrl-D –duplicates layer.

Shift-Ctrl-S — To save in .xcf – the GIMP format (saves your layers), or you can go to File->Save As.

Shift-Ctrl-E — To ‘save’ in a format other than .xcf (like .jpg or .png) or you can go to File->Export As.

Graphic Illustration Tutorial – Quick Glance:


  1. Duplicate background layer.
  2. Apply Hue-Saturation.
  3. Duplicate Hue-Saturation Layer
  4. Blur duplicate Hue-Saturation layer and set to Divide blend mode.
  5. Duplicate blurred layer.
  6. Apply another blur to the top layer and set to Subtract [inverted]* blend mode.

Detailed Notes:

1.  Duplicate the background layer.  Click on the icon that looks likes two photos at the bottom of the layers dock.  Alternatively, go to Layer->Duplicate Layer or key press Shift-Ctrl-D.

2. Rename the layer to saturation.  Then make a Hue-Saturation adjustment… Colors->Hue-Saturation.  Here you can adjust the hue/lightness/saturation.  I set the overlap to 100, and then the Master saturation to 60.  I then clicked on the radio button of each color and adjusted as needed to get the look I wanted.


3. Duplicate the saturation layer.


4. Rename to g.blur 80px +divide.  Apply Gaussian blur Filters->Blur->Gaussian Blur, I used 80px (more pixels the more lines show up – which we want for it to look like a drawing).


Then set the blend mode to Divide.


5. Duplicate the blurred layer. Screenshot-duplicate-g-blur

Rename to g.blur 80px x2 +subtract_inverted.

Then apply the Gaussian blur again.

Set the blend mode to Subtract.


Then invert the Subtract layer, Colors->Invert. Voilà! Graphic Illustration.


*** I used the book The Hidden Power of Blend Modes by Scott Valentine for this effect.  I translated the Photoshop directions into GIMP directions. ***

I hope you try out this technique on your images!

Until next time…

* The Subtract blend mode inverted translates into Photoshop’s Linear Burn blend mode.

27 thoughts on “One Four Challenge – January Week 2…

  1. Hello Nic – made it – apologies for my lateness. Ive been having troble commenting this past week.
    I really enjoy watching your work evolve and thanks for including a GIMP tute this time.
    A few of our crew are trying GIMP.
    I like this different approach – it definitely has a sketched feel 😃😃

    • Robyn, no worries, I’ve been having a heck of a week too and haven’t visited as many participants as I’ve wanted to either. Thanks, I’ve been working toward more GIMP tutorials to make my ideas helpful to a larger audience. Thanks for the compliment, I think this week (week 3) is a bit closer to that sketched feel… I’ve been working on some of the issues I had with this one. I will publish that one this evening I think. Love this challenge, btw. 😀

  2. VERY nice …. some day I’ll get the hang of working in layers … bookmarked your tutorial for when I have time to try Gimp again 😉

    • Thanks, Expressive Ponderer! I did take the photo in a forest of sorts, it was at Hoyt Arboretum in Portland,OR (we visited this past October), I’m pretty sure I crouched down to try to show just how tall those trees are… I think they are Redwoods. 🙂

  3. Wonderful! I admire your proficiency with the post process. The image is great. I like the softness you’ve achieved without sacrificing the lines and contours of the original image. Good work!

    • Thanks Joanne!
      *For some reason this comment was marked as spam… I’m not sure what the filter saw in your info, but I thought you should know. I just happened to skim my spam for legit comments and saw this. I’m glad I didn’t miss it! 🙂

  4. You have definitely got the feel of a drawing in the picture. Although it is possibly the process I do find the black lines to strong. This could also be personal taste. Most certainly a workflow to play with.

    • Thanks for your input, Ben. I tinkered with it for awhile playing with different amounts of blur. I agree that up in the top part of the trees it might be a bit too dark. I tried sharpening it more after the process. I never really got it quite as liney up there as I’d like (but less dark), but overall I was happy with the effect.

      Overall I think it is a neat effect and it will render differently depending upon your image.

        • Yeah, that might be it. I know I worked on it for some time trying 5px blur 40px blur… but always liked the 80px blur best. Then I tried unsharp mask after I finished and I still liked the previous best. Perhaps I could mask a layer that only worked with that top area… but honestly, I did so many versions of this and always liked this one best that I finally stopped tinkering. 🙂

    • Thanks Albatz! It’s not really that much work it is only 3 layers, the software does all the work (i.e. I didn’t have to paint on the mask layer etc.)

Kind thoughts and comments are always welcome...

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