Gertrudis Graphics

Pen and Ink Tutorial

This Tutorial is for GMX-PhotoPainter 1.1.
Visit the Help for an Updated Version

How to convert a photo into a Pen and Ink Drawing

This tutorial will show you how to convert a digital image into a Pen and Ink drawing with GMX-PhotoPainter.

It will also help you understand, how to use the Pen and Ink mode in GMX-PhotoPainter. After completing the tutorial you will be able to convert your photo into a Pen & Ink drawing.

Converting a photo with predefined styles:

A Simple Example

Open the original:

Pen and Ink Original Digital Photo

Keep in mind that digital photos with more contrast are better

Choose the style named: Black&White – Medium Strokes

Pen And Ink Style - 1

Choose the pattern tool:

GMX-PhotoPainter - Pattern Tool

Select the desired pattern:

GMX-PhotoPainter Pattern

Paint the background and non-critical areas with the pattern tool, after some quick strokes, the digital photo converted to a drawing looks like this:

Pen And Ink, after the first steps

Click to see large version

Finally, choose the style named: Black&White – Short Strokes

Pen and Ink Style 2

and use the Autosketch tool to paint the foreground:

GMX-PhotoPainter - Autosketch tool
Continuously apply the autosketch tool, until you have filled all the important areas.

Here is the final result:

Digital converted to a painting

Click to see larger version

But stop!, the Magic of GMX-PhotoPainter, goes further: You can export your drawing at a Very High Resolution

Here is the digital photo converted to a Pen and Ink drawing rendered at a scale of 200% :

Digital Photo Converted to a Painting at High Resolution

Click to see full version

Creating your own Pen and Ink styles

While there are a number of predefined standard styles which come with GMX-PhotoPainter, you can create your own styles. To do so, you must know what parameters affect the rendering engine of GMX-PhotoPainter.

Basic Parameters of the Pen & Ink Mode

Enable Pen and Ink Mode

To start creating drawings in the Pen and Ink Mode, you have to enable this mode: To do it, go to the Pen and Ink Tab, and click in the enable Pen and Ink mode checkbox.

Enable Pen&Ink

Frequency Parameter

As Higher frequency, thinner strokes you will obtain, take a look at following examples:

Pen & Ink - Orignal - Image

Original Image

Gradient - Pen & Ink - Frequency = 6

Frequency = 6

Gradient Pen and Ink - Frequency = 21

Frequency = 21

Pen and Ink Gradient - Frequency = 60

Frequency = 60

Lightness Parameter

Converting a photo into a Pen and Ink drawing involves the process of thresholding or binarizing the digital photography. The Lightness parameter controls where the limit is that determines which pixels are going to be black and which other pixels are going to be white.

Higher values result in darker drawings, lower values result in lighter images.

Pen & Ink - Frequency = 153

Frequency = 153

Pen & Ink - Frequency = 89

Frequency = 89

Straight-Lines Checkbox

Checking on this option will result in a more tidy pattern, because the Pen and Ink pattern will consist in small parallel lines. Using this option wisely could lead to very interesting results. Follow the Tutorial on Michelangelo’s David Face done in Pen and Ink.

Other parameters that affect Pen and Ink mode:

Stroke Length and Stroke Width
Both the Stroke Length and Stroke Width can be modified in the Pen and Ink mode. Modifying both of them in Pen and Ink mode does not affect the results in the same way as if you weren’t in Pen and Ink mode.If you aren’t in Pen and Ink mode, large values of Stroke With and Length will result in a drawings with poor detail, while in Pen and Ink mode, the detail is not lost.

Large values of “Stroke Width” and “Stroke Length” are only recommended if you are using the Free Hand Tool, otherwise it is best to choose Widths not greater that 25 and Lengths not greater than 120.


The transparency is an important Parameter that affects the Pen and Ink mode. See the Tip: Use the transparency parameter

Pen and Ink and Color Mode

While a common option in creating Pen and Ink drawing is to use only Black&White, there is no real limitation to choose your custom colors.

To choose custom colors do the following:

1. Make sure that the check box “Enable Pen and Ink” is checked on in the “Pen and Ink” tab.

2. Go to the Color tab.

3. Right click to select the background color and left click to select the foreground color.

Pen and Ink Color Images

Current version of GMX-PhotoPainter only allows to work in the Duotone color mode. Future versions of GMX-PhotoPainter will implement Pen and Ink with automatic color.

Importants Tips

Use the transparency parameter

It’s highly recommended to use transparency values lower than 255. (Remember that 255 means Opaque, 0 (Zero) means full transparent.

The following example shows the transparency at: 204, 89 and 26, and the last one was made by a first pass with transparency 204, second pass with transparency 89

Note that the result didn’t get blurred, it’s just more soft.

All the examples were made using the Black&White – medium:

Pen and Ink Style

No other setting were changed, in the afore metioned style, except of course for the transparency parameter:

Pen and Ink Settings

Pen and Ink Tutorial - David Face Transparency = 204

Click to see large version

Transparency = 204

Pen and Ink Tutorial - David Face Transparency = 89

Click to see large version

Transparency = 89

Pen and Ink Tutorial - David Face Transparency = 26

Click to see large version

Transparency = 26

Transparency = 204 and then 89

Click to see large version

Combined: First pass with transparency 204, second pass with transparency 89..

Preprocess your image to give it more Contrast

While the contrast of a photo could be enough for creating a painting from a digital photo Pen and Ink drawings demand much more contrast.

Therefore if the input image is not very contrasted, it’s highly recommended to change the contrast before processing it.

Many images in this tutorial were made using the modified version of David Michelangelo’s face.

Pen and Ink Tutorial - David Face with normal contrast

Original Image

Pen and Ink Tutorial - David Face High Contrast

Modified Image with more contrast.

Multiresolution: Export your Pen and Ink Drawing at high Resolution

By choosing the option: “File > Save at different Size”, you can export your drawing at a larger resolution that the original.

At the end of the following mini tutorial you will see the result exported at 500 dpi: David at 500 dpi

Pen and Ink Mini Tutorial

  1. Preprocess your photo, to give it more contrast
  2. Select the style named: Old-engraving:Old-Engraving-Stylethe key point of this style is that it has checked the “Straight Lines” Checkbox:straight lines -checkbox
  3. We are going to paint the background.Modify the style: with the following settings:With: 24 to 54Length: from 92 to 190

    Lines Frequency: from 16 to 21

  4. Select the pattern tool:Pattern toolSelect the desired pattern, we chose 45º diagonal lines.
  5. Paint the background with the selected pattern, the image looks like this:Pen and Ink mini tutorial First step Click to see large version
  6. Now reset the style to its original settings:Reset style
  7. Now Select the autosketch tool:autosketch tooland paint the face, the image now looks almost finished:Mini tutorial second step

    Click to see large version

  8. Now we must fill the small holes in the result, to do so we will use the freehand tool.Also we must change the master size from its default value, 1 to 0.5.master size control
  9. Now paint all small holes using the free hand tool:free hand tool in action
  10. Here is how the high resolution image looks like:Michelangelo's david face converted to Pen&Ink Click to see large version
  11. Finally here is the drawing at 500 DPI:Michelangelo David Pen and Ink Style Low Resolution Click to see larger version


  1. Very good. I do like this technique and the black & white and colour version too. I think I will look at getting this! Just hope I can still do these things though…

    Comment by Jayne Clifford-Greening — May 23, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  2. Interesting and very clear tutorial. I’ll be getting in touch once my desktop computer is returned fron repair.

    Comment by Francis Kernow — August 17, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  3. Hi,

    Er… I can’t seem to find the option “File > Save at different Size” in the Mac version.

    Are you going to implement it for the Mac?

    Also, some of the (very useful) tutorials seem to refer to older (?) versions. It would be great if you could update them for the current (Mac) version.

    Comment by spitfire31 — August 25, 2010 @ 6:02 am

  4. Hi spitfire!
    Yes the save at different size is not present in the current version.
    Yes I’m going to implement it.
    About the tutorials:
    here comes the first one:

    Comment by admin — August 30, 2010 @ 2:27 am

  5. That’s great; I’m looking forward to it.

    Photo Paint is truly amazing and inspirational – I bought a license yesterday and when I showed Photo Paint to my brother, who is a pro illustrator, he fell for it like a ton o’ bricks as well.

    Looking forward to whatever is in store!

    Comment by spitfire31 — August 30, 2010 @ 7:52 am

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