Making a Castle, Fun With Gimp [Photoshop]

Hello readers!

I recently discovered that a new version of GIMP is almost out. One of the awesome new features is live preview of image transformations. Words cannot express exactly how much I was nerding out when I read that.

So, eager to cut my teeth on it, I boldly set a course for the nearest image…

…  so I could play around with the new image filters.

Fortunately, I did not have to wait long. I found

 a really great image of an actual castle, right off the bat:

Eager to test out the new dark-interface I began doing what I normally do: turning a great picture into what appears to be a great painting, drawing, or other art-form. I think I had some success.


The clothify filter is an interesting one: it adds a texture to an image. Using this in conjuction with one of the several pixel grouping filters (I believe this was the waterpixel filter) I was able to produce a very modern looking image:

However, it’s a bit dreary for my taste. So I took a second crack at it to lighten it up. This time I used the Clothify filter, Softglow, and the ever mysterious Van Gogh filter. It came out pretty neat:

Great! It’s much less dreary!

Using the Softglow filter to lighten it up really helped, but the Van Gogh filter is what really made it. Despite that, the Van Gogh filter is … complex to say the least, operating on multiple dimensions of the picture data at once. I’ll have to devote some more time to unraveling its mysteries later.


I’ve been a huge fan of the Cartoonify filter for a long time. I find when using it on architecture, people, plants, vespa, wormholes, or anything remotely complex, it takes a bit of pre or post-processing to make it work. 

One of the things that goes great with a Cartoony filter, or with most photo-editing in general, is adjusting the color saturation. By increasing the saturation you really make the image *pop*. So for the next round I decided to try increasing the color saturation (to about 1.8), cartoonifying it, and then applying a nice Softglow effect. It came out with nice, vivid colors:

It looks pretty nice!

But the edges are a little sharp in the foreground. In an effort to dull it a bit and make it look more “hand-painted” I decided to repeat the process with the bizarre Van Gogh filtering enabled:

Much softer! It has bright colors and nice, friendly feel. Combines with the distortion of the Van Gogh effect, it really gives that “hand-painted” feel.

It would make a great image for a D&D or ttrpg campaign, a good, lively feeling visual of a mysterious castle while the tide is out. 



The new GIMP filters are great and the live preview of the filtering is a huge improvement. To top it off, the user interface was similar enough that I did not require re-training to dive right in.

Passing real life imagery through these filters has the added benefit of making it feel more at place in a tabletop setting. We’ve outlined a simple, 3 filter procedure for turning high quality images into game-worthy content.


Do you have images that you want transformed into hand-drawn style? Post them in the comments today!

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