Turn Your Photo into a Custom Digital Cartoon: Get Creative

Have you ever wondered how to make digital art? What tools and software do you need to get started? If the answer is yes, you are in the right place. Find out how you can create an awesome digital avatar.

What can you do with your digitized art?

You can make an interesting and unique gift and so much more! You can use a picture to cartoon yourself and use these as a picture for social media. You can make your own T-shirt design; you can use it for posters, print it on mugs, make stickers, or anything you can think of.

What tools do you need to make digital art?

I am using Adobe Illustrator and a graphic tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen to make my cartoon avatars. A free alternative to Illustrator is Gimp, a software that offers similar features and basically works the same way.

If you don’t have a pressure-sensitive pen, you can adjust the width of the strokes by creating a custom brush, which goes from thin to thick to thin again, or by adjusting it manually with the “Width tool.” (This method can be quite tedious, though)

Not every person enjoys the same hobbies. We all have different interests. This is why digitized art has become popular. With digitized art, you are not tied to just one painting anymore. It is possible to upload any image of your choosing, including your own picture. There are many things that you can do with this digitized art that makes it very versatile, which may be just what you need to please everyone living in your household!

Digital avatar

“Having a graphic tablet helps a lot, and it doesn’t have to be a big investment”​

Wacom tablets are arguably the best, but they are really expensive. Fortunately, there are more and more alternatives, and with a little research, you can find a budget-friendly brand that essentially does the same.

graphic tablet drawing

Why Illustrator and not Photoshop?

I chose Illustrator when it comes to software because it works with vectors, meaning the finished cartoon caricatures will be crystal clear in any size. It also fits my style more, and the brush tool offers a really nice/adjustable smoothing for your lines. Photoshop seems more sensitive to me, and it is much harder to draw smooth lines without any jitter.

Custom avatar design of a smiling girl
Hand Drawn Profile Illustration

What brush do I use?

The brush I use is really basic, it’s a round calligraphic brush with a size of 6px and 5px pressure variation, and that’s it.

How to make smooth lines?

While yes it’s true that Illustrator helps a great deal with smoothing out the lines, it’s also true if you turn the smoothing too high, you won’t have as much control over your strokes as you wish, and if you turn it too low, your lines will be too jittery. You should strive to draw your lines with the lowest smoothing assistance possible.

It is really important when going over the lines to try drawing the strokes with a single, confident, fluid motion rather than doing short strokes. This will make the lines have a nice flow and make it look much cleaner. You might need a little practice, but it’s worth it!


How to color the artwork?

When I’m happy with what I see, I start coloring. It’s a good idea to separate the color layer from the stroke layer. I put the colors beneath the stroke layer so the width of the stroke gives me a margin of error. In most cases, I’m using the shape builder tool to make shapes that match the strokes I made earlier.

In what format should I save my artwork?

When you are finished, saving it in PNG format is the best option. Not only does it offer higher quality, but it also leaves the parts you left blank transparent. This way, you can have a transparent background and have an easier time when you place it somewhere.

Which ones are the best photos for turning into a digital avatar?

The best photos are typically those of high quality, and all the details are visible and aren’t in the distance. I would avoid group pictures because they can be a distraction when trying to capture a person’s likeness. High-quality headshots work great, but make sure the lighting is good.

The truth is that a bad-quality photo can greatly influence the outcome of a good digital cartoon because if you can’t see the crucial details, you can’t make a quality drawing. Try experimenting with different close-up shots or headshots from different angles to see which works better for you.

Read more >> Free Avatar Generators VS Hand-Drawn Cartoon Portrait Service

How long does turning a photo into a custom digital avatar take?

It is hard to answer this question because it depends on several factors. These include the complexity of the photo, the software, and the tools you use, the desired details, and your drawing experience. So the process could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on these factors.

When creating a digital drawing, there are multiple steps to follow: sketching, coloring, shading, and refining, and if you are familiar with the tools and have experience, you will be able to create your cartoon drawings faster. 

Tips and tricks

If you want to turn your photo into a custom digital avatar, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to ease the process, no matter if you’re just starting out or you are an experienced artist.

  • Always choose a high-quality photo. You can’t do miracles from bad photos. 
  • If one style doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Experiment with different styles and see what works better for you.
  • Don’t pressure yourself if you don’t feel the inspiration, take a break and return to it later.
  • Play with colors and shading. Don’t be afraid to mess up because that is the easiest way to learn. The great thing about digital art is that it’s easy to correct a mistake and to make changes.
  • Refine and make changes if needed. After your work is done, take a break, return later, and make adjustments until you reach the desired outcome.
  • Learn from others. This is a very important step if you want to improve, which is true no matter what level you are at. Seek inspiration, learn new techniques, and join art communities or forums; your learning progress will be much faster.
  • Enjoy the process. Have fun experimenting, and let your imagination and creativity guide you. Clear your mind and be focused when you start the process so you can create unique and fantastic artwork.

Final thoughts

Turning your photo into a custom digital avatar opens a new world to creativity and personal expression. Whether you are just starting or you are an experienced artist, following the tips and tricks above will give you a boost in your artistic journey. Learn from others, upgrade your knowledge, and enjoy the adventure.

Cartoon Avatar

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