Here is some of promised GIMP magic at work. The idea is to make a photo look like painting. The way to do it is to sample the colour underneath and then create a brush stroke of the same colour. Varying the brush orientation, shape, size and opacity gives different effects.
I am at best a GIMP novice, and the effects I apply are mostly hacks that I think would look good :) . So the images should be judged considering that in mind, a more deft hand would be able to get much more out of the pictures.
Here is a picture of Sun Temple at Motera in India that I captured using my Canon A75 on my India trip this December. Our aim -- to make it resemble a painting as much as possible..(Click on images to enlarge.. )
And here's the GIMP artifact..
I have applied the Canvas filter and then used the GIMPressionist tool to get the desired effect, with the "paintbrush" brush type using 12 different brush sizes between 2 and 14 pixels, and orientation of upto 45 degrees . The darkening of the image is because I played with the brightness and contrast a bit, and liked the result of my fiddling around..
To underline the whole point, Here is one photograph:
Here is what I could get using my own impressionist software (the one I wrote as part of my graduate computer graphics class)
And Here's what GIMP gives you using its GIMPressionist tool:
Of course, the tool that I wrote required me to do all the 'artwork' by hand: select the brushes, the "alpha" (or transparency factor) and the inclination of the brushes. The artifact required about 4 hours to create, (though, of course extending the software to "repaint" the whole picture with same settings would have been an easy and worthwhile extension of the existing program). The time it took GIMP, umm -- a bit under 30 seconds, since its completely automated :)... go GIMP!!!