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Pencil vs Camera: Combining Drawing and Photography

Used by permission from the Author

Used by permission from the Author

Photo drawing involves adding a hand drawn sketch or other drawing or can also include adding a painting that is in essence a part a larger photograph. In other words, both the drawing and the photo are on the same frame.

The technique is quite simple to reproduce; as you take a photo of a general scene you superimpose a drawing that fits over parts of the scene, usually having parts that fit like a jigsaw puzzle over other parts of the image.

A common theme is to superimpose a drawn face into the body of a subject; the body is real but the face is a caricature. Other ideas are to superimpose a fictitious character like a dinosaur on a cityscape scene. It is perfectly acceptable to show the hand holding the drawing and this adds to the effect.

A very effective tips is to shoot the image, print it, place tracing paper on top of the part that you want to convert into a drawing, trace the image portion and use this trace as part of the shot. Remember to add backup to the tracing paper when taking the shot since it is very frail. This method is time consuming and may or may not produce the best results.

However, by far the easiest method which produces the best results is to use a digital editing program to combine both images by using the composite layers tool settings.

Take a photograph, make a copy with a digital editing program like Photoshop, make digital irregular cuts and digitally add this copy into the original photograph. For drawings that are different from the original photograph; make a drawing, photograph it, and digitally add it to the original photograph.

These images are mostly used in jest for comics, some advertising campaigns and newspapers articles. Postcards are also a good source to post them. There is really no need to edit the images digitally if using film or if using a digital format.

The only reason one would need to edit the image digitally would be to erase the hand or other item which is used to hold up the drawing to fit within the scene, but again showing the hand that holds the caricature adds to the effect.

The caricature does not have to be a masterpiece, actually the technique works better if the drawing is childlike in appearance as it makes the final composition more of a fun project than anything else.

However, if you are artistically inclined and are capable of producing really good drawings, then the photo becomes more of a presentation piece marketable for art galleries and photographic publications than for personal use.

Bear in mind that we are not talking about converting a photograph into a drawing by digital editing through the use of certain filters created for this purpose with the intention that this digital piece becomes the final product. Our goal is to make a scene, a drawing and shoot or combine them to create one final creation.

Virtually any subject is good for this technique so long as a drawing can be superimposed over the actual photo, and there should be plenty of room in the image to show parts of the photograph with the drawing included and not be too cluttered to the point that where one ends and the other begins are indistinguishable from one another.

Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0

Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0

Do not be concerned if you are not artistically inclined enough to be able to draw a good scene or sketch but a more of a computer geek than an artist.

An easy alternative, (although you are really cheating), is to capture the scene, save a copy, convert the copy into a drawing with a digital editing program, print the copy, cut the desired parts, and photograph both original and the digitally edited copy or digitally add the drawn portion to the original image with a composite layers tool found in most digital editing software programs.

Another variation is to make the drawing or sketch the center of attention within the image. In this case the drawing "receives" the action of the shot; see samples for a better understanding of this technique. This variation is often used to send a message, whether subtle or not, and in satire.

Bottom line, not all photography has to be undertaken with the purposes of selling the images, to publish them or for a book deal.

Sometimes you just need to photograph for the sake of photography itself, and you might as well have fun doing it. However, if your work is really good, you might consider submitting it to the various greeting card manufactures as this theme is sometimes used in card designs.

With that said, there is a well known artist/photographer by the name of Ben Heine, who has made a successful career out of this technique. Very talented and his works are feature on many publications, art galleries and on books.

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If you have talent for drawing like Ben then by all means try his technique. Otherwise just undertake this project as another fun way to practice your photography.

Composite Layers

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


Luis E Gonzalez (author) from Miami, Florida on August 23, 2011:

Cashbackshopper: Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it

Cashbackshopper on August 23, 2011:

Cool Man you are so awesome at this. I just loved your hub. Following your hub

Luis E Gonzalez (author) from Miami, Florida on August 21, 2011:

mikielikie: Thank you, cool username by the way

mikielikie from Texas on August 21, 2011:


Debra Buckland from United States on June 18, 2011:

I was fascinated with your article. I love to play around with different types of photography techniques. I shall have to try this one. Thanks, for the tips.

Luis E Gonzalez (author) from Miami, Florida on June 09, 2011:

Thank you everyone, this is a technique that has long been used and it seems to be gaining in popularity.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on June 09, 2011:

This is very interesting and so cool !

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on June 09, 2011:

Another very informative hub Luis. Thanks for all the info you have been giving on photography.

Lynn S. Murphy on June 08, 2011:

Very cool. Yet another hit Luis. This is also incorporated into scrapbooking and art journaling for a fun and funky page.

JLife on June 08, 2011:

Very interesting stuff!

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