In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to turn a photo into a painting using the artistic effects options in PowerPoint.

Below are the three different effects you can use to make a photo look like a painting in PowerPoint (and you can customize these options as discussed below).

The three different photo to painting effects in PowerPoint

The fact that you can do this directly in PowerPoint instead of having to flip to another software program like Photoshop is AMAZING!

This makes creating interesting painting effects out of your photos extremely easy in PowerPoint.

If you would instead prefer to turn your image into a sketch (without sketching it), see our guide here.

[Watch] How to turn a photo into a painting

To turn a photo into a painting like effect in PowerPoint, simply:

  1. Select your Photo
  2. Navigate to the Picture Tools Format tab
  3. Open the Artistic Effects drop down menu
  4. Choose a painting Artistic Effect

From the pictures tool format tab, select artistic effects and choose one of the painting effects for your image
The three painting like effects for your photos are Paint Strokes, Paint Brush, Watercolor Sponge (all highlighted below).

Picture of the three different painting effects. Paint strokes, Paint Brush and Watercolor Sponge

You can alternatively use the Painting Styles drop down 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.
Opening the Painting Styles drop down you get a variety of additional painting effects you can apply to your photo

Photo to painting effect adjustments

There are two different styling effect options you can use to increase or decrease the intensity of the photo to paining effect.

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

From the Picture tools format tab, open the Artistic Effect Options for more advanced options

And if you don’t fully explore these painting effect options, you might give up on turning your photo into a painting, simply because it doesn’t look realistic enough.

The two main artistic effects options are transparency and brush size

1. Transparency

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.

To learn everything there is to know about making an image transparent in PowerPoint, read our guide here.

2. 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.

3. 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.

Examples of the paint stroke effect using different intensities

4. 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.

Examples of the paint brush effect using different intensities

5. 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.

Examples of the watercolor sponge effect using different brush sizes
Those are your basics for how to make a photo look like a painting in PowerPoint, and s
ome of the picture editing options you have available to you.

Resetting your painting back to a photo

To reset your photo back to it's original state, from the Picture Tools Format tab select Reset Picture

To rest your picture back to it’s original state (removing your photo to painting effect), simply:

  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 reverts your edited photo back to the original image you started with, assuming you haven’t cropped or compressed the picture.

The reason the Reset 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 or compressed your photo.

Once you’ve cropped and compressed your photo, you can no longer get back to the original image by resetting it.

To learn how to crop images quickly in PowerPoint, see our step-by-step instructions here.

To learn how to reduce your image file size (to make your presentation easier to email), see our guide here.


So those are the artistic effects you can use to make a photo look like a painting in PowerPoint.

This is a great way to create new and interesting photo effects for your presentations. Just remember to play around with the intensity options for your chosen photo to painting effect to find the one you like best.

If you enjoyed this tutorial and want to learn more about our training course and PowerPoint resources, visit us here.

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