Converting a photo portrait to a cartoon: online sites and software compared

Perhaps you don’t fancy putting a photo of yourself online on an website or as an avatar but would prefer something a little different – perhaps a cartoonized version of yourself. I’ve always admired the quality of the cartoon portraits on TWiT. All the podcasters there have what must be professionally produced cartoons. Not really caricatures, but cartoons which are still recognizable as the people they portray yet endearing and professional. For me, a cartoon portrait should remove much of the facial detail leaving just the recognisable key features. It shouldn’t look like a photo but should be a good step away from one, yet still recognisable as the person it portrays. Leo Laporte’s cartoon is a very good example, show below along with a photo – just in case you don’t know who he is:

Leo Laporte2

Leo Laporte cartoon

Using cartoon portraits like this online is a pretty nice idea so I set about comparing a number of free sites online which offer to cartoonize photos which you upload. I ran Leo’s photo through the various online sites to see how they compared with the professional cartoon shown above. The photo I used is web ready so not high resolution. Perhaps I would have achieved better results with a higher quality image but anyway this is what I found.

Photo to Cartoon Online

Leo Laporte2_Photo-to-cartoon-online2

This site does allow some interaction in the form of a slider allowing more or less detail. More detail makes the image more like the original photo. I found that less detail worked best and this image is one step away from ‘Least Detail’.


Leo Laporte2_BeFunky

Two free cartoon effects are provided. I found the left option gave the  best cartoon effect even though a little blurry. But it’s not a particularly good likeness. There are six sliders to play around with till you get the effect you want.


Leo Laporte2_AnyMaking

Three sliders to play around with here, but I found the result was too much like the original photo. You’ll also have to use a larger portrait so you can crop out the URL after you finish.


Leo Laporte2_kusoCartoon

I chose the option ‘Cartoon – General’. You have to include a tag name when uploading your photo otherwise nothing happens. Just choose any name like, for example, the subject of your portrait. Lots of options to change here in terms of line style and image colour, but after each change you have to wait 15 seconds to view the result which is a bit of a nuisance. Again, in my opinion, the finished cartoon is too much like the original photo.

Leo Laporte2_Cartoon photo

You can resize the photo as you are uploading it to this site. There are no sliders this time but you can morph the face to make it smile, sad, wink, flirt, etc and produce interesting caricatures. Quite impressive, in fact this is probably the pick of the online cartoon sites.


This site was down for maintenance when I tried. When it comes back up, I’ll add this cartoon.

I’m just starting to come to grips with Photoshop at the moment and I’m running the trial version of Photoshop CS5. I found a cartoonize tutorial here which was quick and straightforward and here’s the result:

Leo Laporte2_cartoon_photoshop

Final word

I liked, and BeFunky was also pretty good but, perhaps predictably, none of the free online services gave a very ‘professional’ result. Either the cartoon was too similar to the original photo or just too far removed to be recognisable as the person it portrayed. I think at the end of the day if you want a professional looking result you’ll have to pay for it. I found this site which creates cartoons for a fee. Anyone tried it or can you recommend a professional cartoon service at a reasonable price? Or have you found another free site or software which does a nice job? Drop a comment below.

5 Responses

  1. Chloe Says:

    For professional cartooning service at a reasonable price, I recommend .
    I like their style, and their price is relatively cheap compared to similar services around the net.

  2. me myself Says:

    Try uploading your cartoonized version to have it done again so it looks less like a photo.

  3. bryan Says:

    I recommend the same, get a real caricature made, there is some cheap sites out there with real artists. I had one done and it cost me $35 at I tried the online stuff, but found it was just an effect, not a cartoon or caricartue, just heavy lines.

    With that said, good overview of what’s out there. I tried the last one on your list and it didn’t really impess me.

  4. Joanna Says:

    For something a little more polished I recommend
    Great cartoons, professional services.

  5. Maggie Says:

    For professional service visit

    They do popart as well as cartoon style photo realistic illustrations.

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