How to turn photo into drawing: this may not be the most conventional way to do this, but it’s a valid one nevertheless! Using photo references to draw cartoons is something that every illustrator or cartoonist does to fast-track their character development.
How do I turn photo into drawing?
The process is simple:
- trace and copy from various references to analyse and understand the anatomy of my subject, and then
- test my understanding of the relative shapes and positions of the body components.
For example, in the video below I started out with a close-up of the sacred ibis head and traced it to get a feel for the size of its head versus the length of its beak and neck.
As I was planning a group of three ibises crossing the tarmac to a small commuter plane, drawing the birds from memory several times produced enough variations to end up with three slightly different ‘characters’ in the frame.
Then it was time to work on the body anatomy: how long is the body relative to the legs, how do I get the body shape correct and how does the tail attach? The way a bird’s legs bend offered some challenges of their own, and I also wanted to give the impression of each bird ‘marching to its own drumbeat’ rather than matching each other stride for stride, so I found several references in different positions.
Turn Photo into Drawing – Video Lesson
Watch the video lesson below to see the entire process in Photoshop, and follow along, or come up with a project of your own. Of course you can do it with pencil and (tracing) paper just as easily, I just use Photoshop because it makes recording so simple from my computer screen :).
Interested in drawing your own cartoon characters from scratch??
I’d love to help!