Saturday, October 3, 2009

GIMP Tutorial: How To Make Caricatures Using GIMP *UPDATED*

I'm going to show you how to turn this:

Into this:

Scripts/Plug-in(s) used in this tutorial:
  • In lieu of the former method, I have replaced it with Adaptive Contrast Enhancer, found at the GIMP Registry, here (for Windows) and here (for Ubuntu).

  • You'll need to download the G'Mic plug-in found here. This tutorial uses the Presets filter called PhotoComix Smoothing (using Photocomix's presets).

  • Other scripts used are built in to the latest versions of GIMP (Gaussian blur, IWarp, etc) so you should be fine with those.

  • I am using Windows 7 (64bit) and Ubuntu 10.04, with GIMP 2.6.11 (32 bit)

  • Please take your time to READ the Installation notes for the G'Mic plug-in prior to starting this tutorial. Read this post if you don't understand how to install scripts and plug-ins. Leave comments if you have any questions.

STEP 1: (Is G'Mic and Adaptive Contrast Enhancer loaded? They need to be, in order to proceed)
Don't have Adaptive Contrast Enhancer loaded in the latest GIMP? Click here

Find a suitable face picture of the intended "victim" for this tutorial. Use a picture of yourself if performing this tutorial could be potentially hazardous to your health using a picture of anyone else.

I will be using this picture of Napoleon Dynamite. You can grab it or use your own.


Run Filters - Colors - Adaptive Contrast on the image using the following settings (your preview should be similar to the one below):


Go to Filters/G'Mic/Presets/PhotoComix Smoothing. The correct settings we'll be using were suggested by Photocomix, and they are as follows:

The need for the dark outline becomes clear once you run this G'Mic filter. It actually highlights the shades and features of the entire image and makes it stand out. Adaptive Contrast adds those elements to your photo.

You should have something similar to this:


There is no right or wrong way to run I-Warp (Filters/Distorts/IWarp). Just remember to use the "reset" button as often as needed (instead of closing the image and restarting the script).

The way I used IWarp was to make minimal changes and then click ok. Open IWarp again and make more changes. Doing this prevents you from losing ALL of your changes when doing a reset.

When doing caricatures, I tend to avoid using Shrink and Grow, as much as possible, as it tends to distort the pixels to a point of losing quality. So, I prefer using the Move tool at the default setting.

On the Napoleon image I Shrank his eyes a little bit, used Grow on his bottom lip and forehead (slightly), and used the Move tool to extend his jowls outward, make his neck smaller, and to lower his shoulders.

Take note of the image for reference:

That's it, you're done! Enjoy... :)

Please leave a comment to report problems with steps in the tutorial or if you have any questions.

Some Additional Caricatures:



  1. Hello,

    Thanks, for your tu.

    Could you give more details about Step 7 and 8.
    How many layers, have you got in Step7.
    That is the result about Step8 ?


  2. On step 7 you should have a single layer image that is cleaned up (after you have done a Levels filter and cleaned up the image as described in step 5, and then copying the edited image in step 6)

    Step 8 involves opening the "original" image you started with (it has no editing done to it at all), you would paste the cleaned image from step 7 into the orginal image in step 8). In step 8, you should have two layers, the original image plus the newly pasted "cleaned" image layer at the top.

    The whole concept here is to take an image, create a dark line drawing from it, paste the line drawing over the top of the original image, change to multiply mode and flatten it before running the G'MIC filter.

    The dark lines enhance the image more so, than if you just ran the G'MIC filter without it.

  3. Hey Mahvin - that's a cool tutorial - I love it!!!!   I have noticed yet another way to get the smooth line drawing overlay in GIMP 2.6.8, using the standard GIMP filter: Artisitic > Cartoon, which does away with the steps using the FX Foundry edge detect Laplace filter through to the flatten layer step. It's a slightly different effect, but it still accentuates the lines quite nicely. If you bump up the mask radius in the cartoon filter, it smooths out the lines and takes away most of the noise for you, and even more if you run the anisotropic smoothing filter afterwards.

  4. thats a crazy tutorial im impressed ,thank u for it ,im just new in gimp so ill be sure to try it.

  5. I am running Ubuntu and can't figure out how to install the Adaptive Contrast Enhancer. Any help would be appreciated. Feel free to drop me an email.

  6. Revnobody:

    Should be the standard from terminal: ./configure
    sudo make install

    You'll need to cd to the directory the file is downloaded to and then perform the steps shown above.

  7. hi
    i am unable to install the gimp-ace plugin. i use ubuntu 11.10 and i have gimp 2.0 installed. but what i understand from the logs is that my gimp is present in usr/lib, but the command ./config is searching gimp and gimpui in usr/bin by default. thus i am unable to install. i have tried with ./config --prefix also. please help.

  8. You'll need to ask someone (possibly the ACE author) how to address your problem. From what you have shared here, isn't enough information for me to even suggest any options. I downloaded ACE to my Downloads folder, extracted it, cd to the new extracted folder, ran ./configure. If ./configure did not run correctly, it will tell you why (example: your system was lacking certain libraries). In the past, I have placed copies of library files in the folders that configure was looking for in order to compile. I'm not suggesting this as your fix. I'm just not experienced enough as a Linux user to help solve your problem, at a glance.

  9. can you please suggest any other way out to get the same effect as the adaptive contrast is doing here in that case? there is some problem coz of which i am unable to install... 

  10. Two other options would be to use:
    1. BK's suggestion (see comments above):LaPlace (FX Foundry) and the Cartoon filter in GIMP. I do not know his exact steps.


    2. G'MIC's Local Normalization in Colors menu.

  11. hi,
    i m trying to install gimp on ubutu 10.10.but i m unable to do this .
    show message"This error could be caused by required additional software packages which are missing or not installable. Furthermore there could be a conflict between software packages which are not allowed to be installed at the same time."
    suggest plz

  12. Rupali: Start here:

    You need to take GIMP installation issues on Ubuntu, to Ubuntu forums for better help.

  13. Hi,

    I am using GIMP 2.8 and the newest gmic plugin 32 Bit on a Windows XP 32 Bit Service Pack 3.

    Now when I upgraded from gmic to the amount of available filters increased from 277 to 283 but many filters seem to be still missing in my version of GMIC. There is no Presets Category and in consequence there are no Photocomix filters. Do you have any idea why this is the case or how to fix this problem? Did the developers just forget to add these new filters to the Windows 32 Bit version?

  14. Try joining the GMIC Discussion group. You'll get faster answers:


If you intend to comment to complain about being unable to perform certain steps with tutorials, please explain where you are in the step process and what step you are unable to get to work correctly, instead of saying something like, "I can't do this!". Your comments will help get tutorial corrections made and help give clarification to future viewers who may have trouble in the same locations. Thank you. :)