How to Turn Photo to Cartoon Effect (Caricature Style) in Photoshop

Turning a photo into a caricature-style cartoon effect in Photoshop involves using a combination of filters, adjustments, and artistic techniques. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Open Your Image:

  1. Launch Photoshop and open the photo you want to transform into a cartoon caricature.

2. Duplicate the Layer:

  1. Right-click on the background layer in the Layers panel and choose “Duplicate Layer.”

3. Apply Posterize Filter:

  1. With the duplicated layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Posterize.
  2. Adjust the levels to simplify the color range and exaggerate the cartoon effect. A lower number of levels will increase the caricature style.

4. Convert to Smart Object:

  1. Right-click on the duplicated layer and choose “Convert to Smart Object.”
  2. This step allows for non-destructive editing and the application of filters as Smart Filters.

5. Apply the Gaussian Blur:

  1. With the Smart Object layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  2. Apply a subtle blur to smooth out details. Adjust the radius to your preference.

6. Apply the High Pass Filter:

  1. With the Smart Object layer selected, go to Filter > Other > High Pass.
  2. Adjust the radius to enhance edges and details. The goal is to make the edges more pronounced.

7. Create a New Layer for Outlines:

  1. Create a new layer above the Smart Object layer.
  2. Use the Brush tool with a hard brush and black color to draw exaggerated outlines around features. Focus on facial features, clothing, and other distinctive elements.

8. Adjust Opacity (Optional):

  1. Adjust the opacity of the outline layer to control the prominence of the outlines. Lowering the opacity can give a softer effect.

9. Add Adjustment Layers:

  1. Create adjustment layers (e.g., Levels, Curves, or Hue/Saturation) to enhance or modify the colors and contrast.
  2. Experiment with these adjustments to achieve the desired cartoon caricature look.

10. Fine-Tune Details:

  1. Zoom in and use the Brush tool, Eraser tool, and other tools as needed to fine-tune details and add emphasis to certain features.

11. Add Color Overlay (Optional):

  1. Create a new layer beneath the outline layer.
  2. Use the Brush tool to add flat colors to different areas of the image, mimicking a traditional cartoon style.

12. Final Adjustments:

  1. Make any final adjustments using adjustment layers and tools to refine the caricature effect.

13. Save Your Cartoon Caricature:

  1. Save your work in Photoshop format (File > Save or File > Save As).
  2. Export the image for sharing or printing (File > Export > Export As).


  • Experiment with Filters: Try different combinations of filters and adjustments to achieve the caricature cartoon effect you like.
  • Use a Graphics Tablet: If available, using a graphics tablet can make it easier to draw the outlines and fine details.
  • Play with Colors: Experiment with vibrant and bold colors to enhance the cartoonish look.

Creating a cartoon caricature involves adding emphasis to facial features and other distinctive elements while simplifying the overall appearance. The key is to strike a balance between exaggeration and maintaining a recognizable likeness.

How to Turn Photo to Cartoon Effect (Caricature Style) in Photoshop
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