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How to achieve in Photoshop 5.5 an effect like this (without buying any expensive addons):

enter image description here

I think that some filters were applied here on original photos.

By the way, very long time ago I saw a tutorial which showed how to do this (I could swear it was a Photoshop tutorial). Unfortunately, the only thing I remember from that tutorial is the picture that was used to work on: it was a picture of a slightly freckled boy looking directly at the camera, in front of him was a table with bread and bottle of milk and behind him was a cow and green trees. If only I could remember where I found it.. There are tons of tutorials about turning a photo into a sketch, but this is not a sketch, it's illustration.. Anyway, maybe someone knows the technique...

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I believe your sample images are paintings, not altered photographs.

The image on the right simply had the laptop and words "wi-fi" pasted into an illustration (they aren't part of the original image).

If you are looking to make photos look like illustrations, Corel Painter is a far better application for that than Photoshop.

Within photoshop, it's a matter of smoothing out all tones. Then ensuring they all have relatively the same texture and contrast.

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You learn how to draw. Photoshop filters aren't magical enough to yet replace artistic skills.

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