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  3. Turn a Photo into a Painting (without Painting It)

Turn a Photo into a Painting (without Painting It)


Want to discover how to make a photo look like a painting in PowerPoint, without having to paint it yourself?

Check out the 3 different photo painting effects below to see what I mean:

The fact that you can do this directly in PowerPoint instead of having to flip to another software program like Photoshop, saves you time, energy and effort, making it fast and easy to create interesting slide backgrounds and special effects for your pictures on the fly for your presentations.

Photo to painting step by step

To turn a photo into a painting, simply:

Nuts & Bolts - PowerPoint - Photo to Painting 2
  1. Select your picture

  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab

  3. Open the Artistic Effects dropdown menu

  4. Choose an artistic effect

The 3 painting effect options available to you in PowerPoint are Paint Strokes, Paint Brush, Watercolor Sponge, as highlighted below.

Nuts & Bolts - PowerPoint - Photo to Painting 3

You can alternatively use the painting styles dropdown in the Format Picture dialog box to not only turn your photo into a painting, but also adjust the painting effect options, as described below.

Nuts & Bolts - PowerPoint - Photo to Painting 4

Adjusting the painting effect

When you convert a photo to a painting style in PowerPoint, you have two different styling options you can play around with to adjust the intensity of the painting effect.

To find these styling options, simply open the Artistic Effects Options at the bottom of the Artistic Effects dropdown.

Nuts & Bolts - PowerPoint - Photo to Painting 5

Many people give up on turning photos into paintings (they think that they don’t work) simply because they haven’t fully explored the styling options available to them.


How much of your original photo or image bleeds through the painting effect your applying.

A transparency of 0 means that none of your original picture bleeds through (creating the starkest painting effect), while a transparency of 100 means that the entire photo bleeds through (killing the painting effect all together).

When converting a photo into a painting there is no right or wrong transparently level you should use. It is just a set of options you can play around with to find the painting effect you like the most.

When I want to make a photo look like a painting (or a watercolor), I always use a transparency level of 0 so that I get the maximize painting style effect in my photo.

Intensity or brush size

How neat and tidy the painting effect is in your image. The higher the Brush Size is, the more artistic and blurred the edits will be in your painting.

See side-by-side examples of the different painting effects applied to the same images using the different brush sizes or intensity levels.

Paint strokes photo effect

Notice that as the intensity increases, the darkness of the photo increases as well. When turning a photo into a painting using this Paint Strokes effect, I typically use an intensity level of 0, 1 or 2.

Paint brush photo effect

Look closely at the details within the photo (like the woman’s hair) to see the thickening intensity of the paint brush painting effect below. The effect is more pronounced when viewed in full screen. 

Watercolor sponge photo effect

When turning a photo into a watercolor painting, the larger the brush size you use increases the watercolor splotches within the photo.

Those are your basics for how to make a photo look like a painting in PowerPoint, and some of the picture editing options you have available to you.

Painting to photo: Resetting your image

If you want to turn your painting back into the original photo (removing whatever painting effects or edits you’ve made), simply use the Reset Picture Command.

  1. Select the photo you want to reset

  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab

  3. Select the Reset Picture command

Selecting Reset Picture command reverts your edited photo back to the original image, assuming you haven't cropped and compressed the picture.

The reason the Rest Picture command works, is because PowerPoint always keeps two different copies of your photos or images when you add them to your slides.

Photo Copy #1: The photo that you crop, resize, edit and add your photo filters and special effects to.

Photo Copy #2: The original photo itself.

That's why you can always go back to your original photo or image, regardless of what you’ve done to in PowerPoint (or reset a stretched picture that someone has left in their slides).

The only exception is that if you have cropped AND compressed your photo. Once you’ve cropped and compressed the photo (deleting the cropped areas), you can no longer get back to the original un-cropped photo by resetting the picture.

Instead, you’ll need to find the original photo.

For some quick PowerPoint tricks for cropping your photos, see how to crop a photo in PowerPoint.

If you want to learn some PowerPoint trick for resetting a photo that doesn’t want to reset, see my YouTube video on Picture Warping Solutions.

What's next?

Updated on June 5, 2018

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