Digital Photo Drawings

paris copy

I know you’ve seen this before. You may not have realized it, but the handwritten/drawn on look is all the rage! A few months back, my friend Carey gave me the idea to play up photos using this technique and I whipped up a few pieces using existing photos I had. I know you’ve seen this look…heck, you may have even done it before and never really thought of turning it into something uber fab!

It’s seen all over Perez Hilton…he’s not only the “Queen of All Media”, he’s the queen of these doodly drawings.


The movie Juno also featured this drawn photo/illustration style in it’s opening credits…

juno opening

…and I love it on this fun cd artwork (complete with the diagonal stripes, one of my faves)…


So there’s no reason you can’t do this to your photos too! All it takes is a basic Paint application (MS Paint or Photoshop Elements anyone?) If you don’t have one of those, then you can download one of these free applications…. It doesn’t really require a lot o’ talent either. You can just do some fanciful outlining, dots, and very primitive shapes. The photo paint look so lends itself to the sloppy handwritten look and that is part of it’s charm too! Sure, you may have to be a little bit picky and do some erasing here and there, but’s that all a part of the process! I played around a little bit before I came up with this final design for my friend’s cat Puzzle:

photo paint art

If you are trying to do this, let me just give you a few quick tips:

1. Use the pencil brush instead of the blurry edged paint brush. The pencil brush has a hard edge and gives a more illustrative/pen-like style. You can play around with both really (the paintbrush tool lends to a more graffiti feel), but the looks shown in this post all used a pencil edge.

2. Work with the highest quality resolution image if you plan on printing them out and framing or actually making a fun craft project. There’s nothing worse then spending a lot of time on an image only for it to turn out totally pixelated and poor quality. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

3. Mix your digital drawing in with your fun decorative fonts like I did in the Oui Oui picture above. This adds a touch of whimsy and if you’ve not super confident in your handwriting, this may be the way to go.

4. Fill in large areas with a large paint brush tool or paint bucket tool if you want to showcase just certain areas.

5. Dress a design up with basic dots, lines, swirls, and outlines in different colors. Also doodle and draw on your image the same way you would on paper. Draw hearts, stars, thought bubbles, little smiley faces, etc. on your image. I recently visited Bam Pop fun and graphic inspiration in this style.

These would make cute little conversation pieces all around your home…I can just imagine making mini digital photo drawing pillows, coasters, stickers, and magnets to put on display. They also make a great photo grouping using different shaped frames scattered all over an open wall. This also opens up into gift possibilities as well…if your friend is a nut over those LOL cats, wouldn’t they be just as crazy over a custom cat or funny image of themselves with their signature phrase??? These would make super funny gift wrap bags and tags as well. What a great way to make a funny statement!

You really can do so much with this look. A few months back, I created this idea folder in a very similar vain (granted, I actually hand lettered this image, but the basic idea is there). Just think outside of the box and start thinking about the different ways you can accessorize your plain photos and turn them into something beyond swell!

idea notebook

Until tomorrow Swellions!



  1. says

    Good tips. Actually it’s the artistic sense to change some thing as you have done. Many peoples have many choices such as some like bright colors other don’t and same for patterns like diagonals, squares etc. Everyone will use his own idea.

  2. Franchise says

    I was so happy the day I figured out how you got your eye shadow on. That looks like so much fun. You totally went all French.

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