Saturday, April 20, 2013

FotoSketcher secrets - tricks you may not know :-)

Dear FotoSketcher users,

Over the years I have added quite a few shortcuts and hidden features in FotoSketcher. Even if you are a regular user, there might be a few that you did not find. 
Since I never really mustered up the courage to write a full fledged manual, this post will help you discover some of the useful little secrets of FotoSketcher.

Interface tricks:

1: this is the zoom indicator. If you click on the percentage (shown here at 100%), you can manually enter the desired value (from 5% to 1000%).

2: if you left click on the left magnifying glass icon, you will zoom out of the image. You can keep your finger on the mouse button and FotoSketcher will zoom out further. Now, the fun bit: you can also RIGHT-CLICK on this icon, for faster zooming out!

3: if you left-click on the middle magnifying glass icon, the zoom level will revert to 100%. However, if you RIGHT-CLICK the icon, the images will be automatically zoomed to best fit their respective panels (pretty useful for large images).

4: yes, you guessed it... you can also RIGHT-CLICK on this icon :-)

5: if you click and drag on the division line, this will resize the two panels. Now the fun part: if you DOUBLE-CLICK on the division line, both panels will automatically resize to their default widths.

6: you probably know that you can click and drag the image around. But did you know that DOUBLE-CLICKING will show you a full screen preview?   

In the drawing parameters window, there are also a few useful tricks.
First of all, if you double-click on the name of a parameter (like "image simplification" as shown below) this will reset its value to the default (10 in this case).

Also, for some effects, it is possible to increase the number of iterations. Simply double-click on the value at the right of the trackbar (255 in the example below) and the value will change to MAX. This increases the time taken by the effect (and hopefully the quality of the rendering!).

 So far, this trick works with the following effects: 
  •  Painting 7 (brushstrokes) - for the "number of brushstrokes" parameter
  •  Emergence - for the "number of iterations" parameter

Another tip is that in Windows explorer you can drag and drop a picture onto the FotoSketcher icon and the program will start with your image loaded. If FotoSketcher is already started, you can simply drag and drop an image onto the first panel (source image) and it will open.

Keyboard shortcuts:

There are quite a few keyboard shortcuts you can use in FotoSketcher. Most of them are listed in the menus, as shown below:


If you have a keyboard with a number pad, you can also use the + (plus) and - (minus) keys to respectively zoom in and zoom out.

I hope these tips will help you enjoy playing with FotoSketcher even more!

All the best,



David said...

You're welcome :-) I should have done it earlier, but then again... never postpone until tomorrow what you can postpone until the day after!

Unknown said...

Yor program is exceptional and very easy to se. I'pregnante done some very good things with it and the learning process jst keeps going on.

David said...

Thanks :-)

Casey Fluffbutt said...


Mate, you are a nutcase.. a brilliant, funny, magnificent nutcase!

All those little Easter Eggs in the program, wonderful little ideas that most programmers would not bother to add.. but YOU did!

Well done, and thanks for the guide..

David said...

Thanks, Casey. Glad you like the hidden features ;-)

Andrew Finnie said...

Thanks David, I really love your work and program! Greetings from Oz!

David said...

Hi Andrew,
Thank you for your nice comment from 'down under' :-)

Edgardo Lamparero said...

Excelente herramienta David!
Muy facil y rapida de usar. La interface es muy elegante.
Y lo mejor de todo: es gratis!
Gracias por compartir.

David said...

¡Muchas gracias, Edgardo!

Geoff said...

Hi David,
Just discovered you program and are enthusiasticlly exploring it.
One important question if i may, is there a way to save used settings for future use? my fingers are crossed!
Many thanks in advance.
Cheers - Geoff from OZ.

David said...

Hi Geoff,
Thank you for your nice comment from Down Under :-)
You're in luck, it is actuallay quite simple to save the settings you used: in the "Drawing parameters" window, simply click on 'save parameters' at the top of the window. This will save all current parameters for all effects in a .fsk file which you can load at a later time.

Alvaro said...

This is cool!

David said...

Thanks, Alvaro :-)

Julia said...

It's a great piece of software and achieves better results than a lot of more well known and expensive ones.

However I'm finding hard to use due to the sliders on the GUI being almost exactly the same colour. I have to work at it to see them (usually ending up standing up so I can peer at them closely).

I note in your tutorials the background of the control panel is white. Is there any way I can tweak it to display some sort of contrast for the slider pointy bits against the background. Thanks, hopefully it's just a setting I've missed. Great software though x

David said...

Hi Julia,

The FotoSketcher GUI has changed a bit in the last few years, but there is indeed a way to increase legibility. If you find that the default theme is too dark and lacks contrast, you can change to a lighter and more legible theme. To do that, simply go to the Help menu and click on "Change window style...". The default theme is Charcoal, but you might prefer the Slate style.



Anonymous said...

First...thanks for a GREAT program.
It is exactly what I needed to augment my work.

Now, when I first used the program several months ago, it was extraordinary. However, it then began to be sluggish, non responsive, much so that I had to uninstall it.

I just tried to install and use it, and found it to be even worse.

Can you help? I would really like to use the program.

David said...


Some users have also reported problems on some PCs (usually running Windows XP). Try running FotoSketcher as administrator, this might help. Also, you can try uninstalling FotoSketcher completely and running the portable version.
If all fails, don't hesitate to send me a message from the contact page on and I'll try to help.

Guillermo said...

Hello there and thank you for this wonderful program. I have a little problem cause I'm getting this error message with a panorama:


Thank you again

David said...

Hi Guillermo,

It is possible that your image was simply too large for the chosen effect (some are more memory hungry than others). You can send me more information at and I'll investigate.



icu109 said...

Hey David....I see great things coming from France! Someone mentioned this app on GiveawayoftheDay a few days ago and I HAD to have it...and I absolutely love it! I was able to start playing right huge learning curve as in Photoshop. I am a composite artist and I used this to redo one of the composites I just finished and wow, a new work of art!
Best to you in your selfless endeavors and your gift to the arts! Thank you! Best, Kathy

David said...

Thank you for your nice comment, Kathy :-) I'm glad that you like FotoSketcher!

Unknown said...

Hello, This is Ravi. I tried your amazing software and found that all the features are amazingly fast and too good to believe. However your final picture saves in .fsk.
Plese suggest the fsk viewer and
how do I convert .fsk to .jpg?

David said...

Hi Ravi,

You actually only saved the parameters themselves (in .fsk format, which can only be opened by FotoSketcher in the paramaters window) and not the image itself.
To save the image, you can press CTRL+S.



Unknown said...

When trying to convert some jpg images to sketch I get an error message that there is not sufficient storage space to finish the operation. I am saving the image to a 500 GB hard drive. Is there a way to get past this? Thanks for the program, btw---it is fantastic!! Bobby

David said...

Hi Bobby,
Thank you for your message. You could try reducing the size (in pixels) of your source image, to see if it solves the problem. You can resize an image easily inside FotoSketcher (press CTRL+R).
Here is a workaround if the process finishes OK (so that you get a sketch in the right panel) but you are still unable to save the image: copy the sketch to the clipboard (CTRL+C) and paste in another application - like Irfanview for instance - and save it from there.

Anonymous said...

How do i reset fotosketcher setting to its initial values ?

David said...

To reset just one value, simply double-click on the label (for instance Darken/Lighten). If you wish to reset all parameters for all effects, just click on Reset parameters :-)

Unknown said...

Any chance in the next version you could make the text on the tool tips for the menu choices white? There is now black text on a dark gray background that is hard to read.
Sincerely, David

David said...


If you change the window style to "slate" (as a shortcut, you can press the "ins" key on your keyboard to change the style), the menus and tooltips should be easier to read.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Thank you. I just found out about fotosketcher and I love it.


David said...

Thank you, Mimi :)

Susan said...

Hi, David,
I LOVE FotoSketcher and use it all the time. It's definitely the best photo painting tool on the market with the most variations possible and best results. I have tried many of the others and always stick with FotoSketcher.

Question: I occasionally use the Text option. Once I've saved test on an image, is there a way to get back to that text to edit it? I find that if I use the Add Text button again, it actually inserts another text area rather than allowing me to edit the previous text area. I know I can use the UnDo command, but if I've made other changes I want to save after entering the text, that won't work.

Thank you so much for this app!! Sooooo great!!


David said...

Hi Susan,

Thank you very much for your kind message. As for the text tool, it is a bit primitive to be fair and should only be used as the last step. Apart from undoing (CTRL+Z) you cannot delete or modify the text you added. BTW, here is a small trick I use to create transparent text:
- once you are happy with your painting, press CTRL+C and then CTRL+V. This will duplicate the painting
- now add your text to the right panel image
- finally, choose the "Merge source and result" effect and place the "blending intensity" cursor to your desidered level. Voila!

Best regards,


Susan said...

Oh, nice idea about the transparent text! Thanks, David!

Anonymous said...

Hello David,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating this wonderful program! I just discovered it last night and already I am totally addicted to creating "masterpieces".

I too, had questions on how to edit text, as did Susan, above, and quite by accident, I found that by using the Manual Brush, and "painting" over the offending text, it was erased. Not exactly sure how this was accomplished, but it worked for me.

I'm looking forward to learning more tricks of the trade, and thank you again for allowing me to feel like a real ARTIST.


David said...

Thank you, Marcie :)

Andrey Ayoshin said...

Hi David,

Thanks for such nice program!

I love Photosketcher effects (especially, "oil", "watercolor" and "old photo" ones) and would like to use them on my drawings (colored line art like that: ), so I have some questions:

1. Is there any possibility to make Photosketcher more quick (it takes now too many time to apply some effect to an illo of A4 600 dpi size)?

2. Is it possible to add to Photosketcher an instrument "color selection"? By the moment I can't use its effects on line art illos, because I only need to apply effects on color and not on black lines (now the effects, when applied, spoil black line art). If the program gets the instrument "color selection" it would be possible to block line art (or some specific color) to avoid to apply effects when these aren't needed.

Andrey Ayoshin

David said...

Hi Andrey,

I'm glad that you like FotoSketcher, with an 'F' not 'PH' ;-)
1. It is possible to speed up FotoSketcher by reducing the number of pixels (you can keep the dpi). I would suggest not using images larger than 4000x3000 pixels if you can. Hwever, sometimes you need to process larger images (especially for printing), so you can use the batch processing function (CTRL+B) to process multiple images during the night for instance.
2. This might be cumbersome, but you can use the manual brush to only treat some parts of the image.



Jayaraman said...

I have downloaded and installed the software. I see only tutorials and galleries. Where is the fotoSketcher to use?

David said...

Hi Jayaraman,

Tutorials and galleries are on the website, not on your PC.
If you downloaded the full version of FotoSketcher from, then the program will be in your c:\Program Files (x86)\FotoSketcher directory. It will also appear in your Windows Start menu.



Anonymous said...

You are a brilliant mind.
I have a question: Is there any way to turn off the pink trace line, when
I am in manual brush mode, and doing touch-up on the right side of the source image?

Thank You for your support,

David said...

Thank you for your message. I was not able to reproduce the problem, but here is a potential solution:
- first of all, add a simple white frame around your image
- then run the desired effect and apply the manual brush
- finally, crop the resulting image using the crop tool (7th icon in the icon bar) to get rid of any unwanting artefact on the side of the image
I hope this helps :)
In case you need more support, don't hesitate to use the contact form on the website.
Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Thank you kindly for your response.

Bharat Haladi said...

Thank you for a wonderful tool ! It is truly awesome.
Any plans for the next version any time soon ?


David said...

Hi Bharat,
Thank you for your comment. The current version is 3.20 and I'm currently working on the Android version. The next Windows release is scheduled to happen at one time... but not very soon I'm afraid as I don't have time to work on both versions at once.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much David, not just for the software, which is brilliant, but also for your willingness to share information so readily. One or two people in the thread above asked about big images and somewhere (I can't remember where), I saw that you suggested using the portable 64bit version of Fotosketcher 3.2 for larger images. I have used it with images as large as 15000 x 10000 pixels and although the transformations take ages (overnight usually), it completely solves the size/memory issues, so thanks for that idea. I look forward to future developments with interest.
At some stage I shall have to learn to control it with eye-movement detection software which will be an interesting challenge, but at the moment I can still just about use a keyboard, although I now struggle with the mouse, so the keyboard shortcuts list above will prove invaluable. Why did I not notice the keyboard shortcuts in the software menus? No idea!!!

David said...

Dear Rick,
Thank you for your kind comment and I am glad I could help :)

John said...

Love the program David and find it very easy to use. I am hoping to take a bout a dozen photos of our travels and turn them into various forms of art for a gallery wall in our living room.

One question, is there a way to erase or whiten the edges after a photo has been transformed say to oil paint. I would like to soften the look of the finished painting.

Thanks for your help and the great program.

David said...

Hi John,
Thank you for your kind comment. There are many different ways to soften the edges, but I think the best way to achieve what you want is to use the manual brush. For instance, after running an oil painting effect, you could choose a softer effect and run the manual brush on only some areas of the painting (like the edges for instance). BTW, there is a slider for the manual brush which gives you control on the opacity of the brush.

Jacqueline Allen said...

I have only just found your fabulous software, it is amazing! I have converted a few of my photo's that I love to oil painting, and I love them even more, thank you so much. Just have to figure how to get my copyright on the pictures and I will be a very happy person! Thank you once again :-)

QCC said...

A really nice and useful programme.
My only real wish is support for TIFF images.
I was quite surprised at the low resource use. Low CPU and memory. Just one thread of 20 on a 10 core Xeon CPU is used.
Support TIFF and my next donation will buy you a Tim Horton's large coffe and a box of Tinbits.

photopz said...

Hi David
I've been using FSK for some years, and recently did a comparison run with Dynamic Auto Painter (per-release V6). This opened my eyes to some of the advanced settings and techniques of FSK.

Cut to the Conclusion! What I originally thought was going to be a 50/50 decision rapidly turned into 100% in favour of FSK.

I'm running up to age 90 this year, and after more than 70 years of photography and digital art from the release of Windows to the world, there is nothing else then or now that is so easy to use as FSK, and with so many options.

Your intelligent programming gives me the option of off the peg artwork as good as any that I can produce with ALL the other art and painting programs I've ever used, but now enables me to claim to be a true (digital) artist. Thanks to you!

You'll notice my Nom-De-Plume "Photopz"'s a derivation of Photops originating from my uncle who exhibited his photos in the 1930's and thus inspired me as a youngster, and I feel proud to be able to equal his prowess with the added value of ART you have given me.

Kind Regards


Roderik Herreral said...

Muchas gracias por el programa y por el dato de procesar varias imágenes al mismo tiempo! :D

Bharat Haladi said...

Hear, Hear !
Kudos to you and FSK, David.
I agree with Dennis entirely.

Best wishes,

robsonphotographer said...

why my original image is 300dpi when i paint and finish is 96 dpi

David said...

Hi, this happens sometimes. FotoSketcher tries to retain the original dpi setting, but on some jpg images it reverts to 96. This does not change the resolution (in pixels) and only has an impact when printing. The solution is simply to open the image in another graphics program (I use the great Irfanview) and change the dpi setting back to 300.

Jim E said...

David, Love your program. There are so many permutations that I find it hard to reproduce an effect that I liked. I should note settings every time, I guess. Any other thoughts?

Thank you,


David said...

Hi Jim, thanks for your comment :) You might find useful a little known feature which allows you to save your parameters in the filename. In FotoSketcher, simply press the End key to toggle the long filename feature on. When you save your image, the filename will contain the name of the effect and the parameters used. Best regards, David

Robert said...

Bonjour David,
Je viens de télécharger votre logiciel qui me laisse pantois tant sa facilité d'utilisation est grande dès lors que je dispose de Photoshop et autres logiciels photos.
Question stupide, pourquoi, lors du défilement des effets, voit-on toujours l'image du perroquet à droite en réduction et non celle sélectionnée ?
Merci déjà pour votre réponse.
Robert (Belgique)

David said...

Bonjour Robert,
Merci pour votre message. L'aperçu du perroquet qui apparait à droite est pré=calculée et ne change pas. Elle a seulement pour but de donner une idée du résultat de l'effet. Il serait en effet possible de mettre à jour cette vignette avec l'image en cours, mais cela pose des problèmes (temps de calcul des aperçus, qualité visuelle, quelle partie de l'image choisir...). Par conséquent, les aperçus sur la droite restent basés sur le perroquet.

Jblog said...

Dear David,

On July 30, 2019 you replied to Jim stating;

Hi Jim, thanks for your comment :) You might find useful a little known feature which allows you to save your parameters in the filename. In FotoSketcher, simply press the End key to toggle the long filename feature on. When you save your image, the filename will contain the name of the effect and the parameters used. Best regards, David

July 30, 2019 at 10:02 PM

I am trying to use the End key I can only see the file name as shown "IMG_20200207_133707_FotoSketcher.jpg"
I do not see the name of the effect and the parameters used, am I missing something here.
Please help.

Thanks in advance,

David said...

Hi Jayant, normally, pressing the End key, you should see a message which says "long Filenames ON". If not, it could be a bug...

Anonymous said...

Thank you David for the Fotosketcher 3.60...I have been using your program for many years and make Digital pictures on a couple of sites..This is absolutely fabulous and love using it.... Anita ♥

David said...

Thank you Anita :)

Debra Brooks said...

I just downloaded your program and am seeing what all it does, and so far I am really loving it! II am curious, is there a way to make and add your own brushes? I would love one in small swirls!

David said...

Hi Debra,
Thank you for your comment. The format of custom brushes for Painting 4 is any transparent .png file in black & white. You can use Photoshop brushes (many can be found for free on the web) and turn them into .png images, using for instance a free program called Abrviewer. The following tutorial by Steven Friedman will give you a lot of information:
Best regards,

NoRules said...

Aloha David!

Thank you for your gift to the world with this program! :)

I often have timelaps (up to 10000 photos in high res) that I would like to batch process. I am trying now, but as others said, the program only use very small part of the CPU... so the whole process takes ages. Is there some way to do it faster? I could imagine maybe paralle instances of the program would work - but maybe you have a better idea.

Another question: what of the painting filters/brushes need less calculation than others? Is there some ranking you have?

Thank you again!

Andrei (Munich/Germany)

David said...

Aloha NoRUles :)

Thank you for your message! As you mentioned, running multiple instances will work. Each instance will use one CPU core, so you could process for instance 4 images at once in the same time as one.
To simplify your workflow, I would suggest using the batch mode (Ctrl+B) as well. If you process all images with the same effect and parameters, then you can use the batch mode to process multiple images in succession.
As for the speed (or lack thereof) of filters,it really depends on the size of the source image and the parameters used. Some effects scale better and others become much slower the higher the resolution. Painting 4 is probably slowest.