Posts Tagged ‘how to make photo into drawing’

I’m still getting my office put together and I wanted some family photos in there somewhere but I have family photos EVERYWHERE in my house so I thought I could do something a little more creative with it.  I have seen some really amazing pen and ink sketches on etsy and in design mags and love the free flowing sophisticated feel they bring.  I especially LOVE the pen and ink art of etsy seller V.H. McKenzie.  Here are a couple of my favs:

Aren’t they cool!?  I just love the simplicity of them.  So with this style in mind I decided to try my hand at creating some pen and ink portraits from my family photos.  And honestly, not to discredit real artists out there (I definitely cheat), it really wasn’t that hard.  I pulled back on the “abstractness” a little more than the artist above, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.  I love that I have pictures of my family hanging in my office without having yet another family photo wall.  So do you want to do it too?  OK!  I’ll show you the easy way!

Cost: $0… to create the art except for maybe a buck or two to buy a sharpie and a piece of white paper.  I got some frames at the Dollar Store and made mats out of cardstock that I will be mounting this in.


  • Computer and printer.
  • Access to Picnik online.
  • A piece of white paper or cardstock.
  • A fine tipped sharpie marker.

Okay then here we go.

1.  Take a picture of someone (or something).  This project would be pretty cool with objects or animals too.  *TIP*  For easiest tracing (you’ll see) it is best to use a photo that has a pretty plain background that is lighter than the subject.  I used a picture of my hubby I took as a practice shot against a white backdrop a while back.

2.  Upload it to your computer and open it in Picnik.

3.  It will come up under the “Edit” tab.  My husband will kill me for using this pic but I thought it would be a good one to draw.  Plus, I just think he looks sexy. 🙂

4.  Now go to the “Create” tab and click on the “Effects” toolbar.  Convert your image to Black and White and hit apply.

5.  Next, scroll down to “HDR-ish” and adjust the radius and strength until you feel like your photo is finding its edges.  I left my radius at 20 and pulled my strength to the far right all the way to the end.

6.  Hit apply and scroll down to “Pencil Sketch”. Play with that until you’re edges really start to come out.  What we’re doing here is making a photo that will be easy to trace for a pen and ink drawing.  I brought both the radius and the strength sliders to the far right.

7.  Hit apply and go down to find “Posterize“.  Play with those sliders to get even more of a “drawn” look.  I brought the number of colors down to 2 and set the detail at 79%.

8.  Hit apply and go to the “Save and Share” tab above.  From there you can save it to your computer or print it off.  I printed mine off to use as a template to “trace”.

9.  Now, grab your sharpie and your printed photo along with another sheet of white paper or cardstock and head to a window.  The window will backlight the image to allow you to see through enough to trace it.   P.S.  This only works in the daytime. 🙂

10.  Okay.  Summon your artistic skills here a bit and start tracing the hard edges of your photo trying to keep your hand moving and your lines smooth and steady.  Only trace the prominent lines.  The smaller details will muck up your finished art piece.  Think of it like the missed portions are implied by the overall composition  (wow…that was artsy of me).  For example, when I traced mine, there were portions of my hubby’s shirt that didn’t show through as strong lines so I left them out.  But you can still tell he is wearing a shirt because of the other more prominent folds the fabric made.  I hope this makes sense.  This is supposed to be somewhat abstract so don’t stress if its not PERFECT.  When you’re all done tracing pull it away from the photo and check out your new awesome pen and ink art!!

P.S.  This is pretty much the way I made my little “headshot” drawing in my banner at the top of my blog.  I LOVE tracing.  It makes me feel like such a cheater but who cares if the finished product looks so FABULOUS!

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