FotoSketcher is an interesting graphics tool that can turn your digital photos into works of art, all in a few seconds. This isn't exactly a new idea - just about every graphics editor has a "water colour" or "oil painting" filter - but FotoSketcher takes it further than most, with more effects and a great deal of control over the finished results.
There's support for many different drawing styles, for instance: pencil sketches (black and white, and colour), pen and ink, six different painting effects, pixellation, coloured dots, and more.
Whatever style you pick can be customised in many different ways. When creating a watercolour, say, you're able to tweak colour intensity, image simplification (the level of detail in the picture) and the overall strength of the effect. You can also darken or lighten the image to taste, soften edges, change the texture, even add a frame.
Of course it's hard to tell in advance what these settings should be, but that doesn't really matter. Just pick an option, drag its slider to the left or right, watch the effect in the preview window and stop tweaking when you're happy.
If you've found a group of settings that you really like then they can be saved for easy recall later. And a batch processing option then lets you convert entire folders of images to classy works of art in just a few minutes, as long as they're JPEGs, PNGs or BMP files (unfortunately the program doesn't support other formats).
Version 2.5 extends the program with an excellent new Linear Halftoning effect, and various interface tweaks and bug fixes. There's no longer any optional toolbar bundled with the setup version, either.