The 8 Best Free Apps to Turn Photos Into Art and Paintings

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Key Takeaways

  • Turn your photos into instant paintings with apps like Prisma, Picsart, GoArt, Photo Lab, Instant Toon, BeCasso, Clip2Comic, and Watercolor Effect.
  • These apps offer a variety of filters and effects to transform your photos into different artistic styles.
  • Some apps offer additional features like social networking, AI-generated effects, photo editing tools, and options to print or create products with your art.

It can take the most talented artistic geniuses hours to complete their masterpieces, but you can make one in mere minutes. Thanks to these photo-to-painting apps, you can use your smartphone to turn any selfie or photo into a work of art instantly.

1. Prisma: Art Effect Photo Editor

With Prisma, once you choose a photo and a filter, it will apply the filter immediately and show you a preview of your final image. You can then slide your finger left or right to denote the intensity of the filter from 0 to 100 percent. There’s also an option to apply the filter only to the background or subject.

You will also find the usual image editing options in the app, like exposure, contrast, saturation, and more.

The free version has plenty of great filters already. If you want to unlock over 700 filters and effects, you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium plan for $7.99/month (or $39.99/year).

Download: Prisma for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

2. Picsart: AI Photo Editor

Picsart functions as a full photo editing service complete with selfie and video editing capabilities, collage layouts, and a selection of beautifying tools and filters.

Within these filters, you’ll find a few different options that will allow you to completely alter the appearance of your selected photo into that of an artist’s painting. You can edit the photo to perfection and select a filter (such as the Pastel filter) to make digital art in minutes.

There is a dedicated AI section that automatically applies different AI-generated effects to your photos for free, so you can take advantage of this section to create art. The only catch is the app has a limit on the number of generations you can create in a day.

Picsart also has a social network of sorts in the app, providing daily inspirational content from other users. It doesn’t rival dedicated online resources for finding digital art inspiration, but as an app, Picsart has several tools that you’ll find handy.

Download: Picsart for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

3. GoArt: AI Art Generator

Another excellent app to help you turn a photo into a painting is GoArt. It has been designed with a major focus placed on the ability to print the art that you create. This brings some excellent benefits (and a few potential issues) for your photo needs.

You can select from various art styles, including everything from expressionism to structuralism. The app uses AI technology to convert the photo into an artistic piece. Create masterpiece after masterpiece and frame them on your walls at home. Although it creates a clean and quality image, this can take a few minutes to process—unlike most instantaneous options.

Like Prisma, GoArt allows you to adjust the intensity of the effects to ensure the resultant artwork is of your liking. This intensity setting is available across Android and iOS.

Once you’re finished, you’ll notice there’s a watermark on the photo. You can save virtual coins in the app to remove the watermark or upgrade to the premium version for its complete removal.

The major caveat with GoArt is that most of the filters are under the premium version of the app.

Download: GoArt for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. Photo Lab: AI Photo and Art Editor

If you love experimenting with funny, creative, and beautiful filters, Photo Lab is the right app for you.

This is a great option for people looking to add a little something extra to their social media pages. Photo Lab is more than just a photo-to-painting app; the AI-driven tech is extremely easy to use and will automatically do edits, like cropping, for you.

Photo Lab has a wide range of filters available, so you can try different ones to see which one suits a specific picture. From the app, you can easily upload your image to social media or share it to a platform specifically designed for sharing digital art.

Download: Photo Lab for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

5. Instant Toon: Cartoon and Art Cam

Instant Toon has developed a strong fan following by providing a high-quality product that actually delivers exactly what you’re asking for. There are fewer photo editing tools available in this app, as it focuses strictly on turning your photos into paintings.

Simply upload an image from your camera roll or take a picture in real-time to get started. From there, scroll through the list of available filters until you find the perfect fit. There are a plethora of filter options, including black-and-white sketch designs, oil paintings, and comics.

You can save the new piece as a still image, GIF, live photo, or video and share it with anyone. This app is only available for iOS, however.

Download: Instant Toon for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

6. BeCasso: Photo-to-Painting App

BeCasso is filled with premium artistic filters that are styled after your favorite artists, like Vincent van Gogh and Picasso. After uploading your selected photo, scroll through a long list of different artistic techniques and select the filter that you love.

You’ll want to touch up your photos before uploading them, as most of the photo editing tools in this app are unlocked only after paying for a subscription. See our list of the best photo editing apps for the iPhone for different options.

One of the coolest aspects of this app is the partnership with MyPostCard. For a small fee, the app will turn your new art piece into a postcard and send it to an address of your choice.

You can use its partnership with CanvasPop to have your beautiful creation appear on anything from a t-shirt to a poster, all from within the app. That takes it up a notch from a simple profile picture change.

Unfortunately, this app is also only available for iOS.

Download: BeCasso for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

7. Clip2Comic: Cartoonify Your Photos

Clip2Comic is a user-friendly way to turn your photos into a painting. You can play around with multiple art styles, such as comic strips and cartoons, and also make simple editing changes to your portraits.

When using Clip2Comic, you can choose whether you want to add photos from your Camera Roll or take a picture. Some of the editing features are only available for premium users, but the free filters are more than enough for most people.

The app is available on iOS and iPadOS, but not Android at the time of writing (January 2024).

Download: Clip2Comic for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

8. Watercolor Effect: Art Filters

Watercolor Effect gives you a handful of filters that, as the name suggests, add a watercolor effect to your photos. You can change the intensity of these filters and pick from multiple styles, such as Picasso-style paintings.

Like Clip2Comic, you can import images from your Camera Roll and take photos directly within the app. While you’ll need to purchase a subscription to get unlimited access, Watercolor Effect is perfect for beginners who want to turn their photos into art or drawings.

Download: Watercolor Effect for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Once you begin using your smartphone as a creativity tool, you’ll be amazed at how many cool tricks and techniques you will discover. Leave behind your standard sepia color scheme, and try giving your photos a little extra by turning them into cool artworks or paintings.