We’ve all been there: a kid draws something and your fridge becomes the default display area. There must be a better way! There is, and this is the tutorial for it. The instructions below show you exactly how to make a kid’s drawing digital print. I guarantee you that it will look better this way than it does on your fridge.
The only special tool that you need for this project is Adobe Illustrator. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you on some expensive software that you’ll never use again, because Adobe provides a 30-day trial of Illustrator for FREE! Download the trial and you are good to go.
Side note: I use Illustrator to make all of my printables; it is the best way to convert any hand drawn piece into digital format. So, you may find more uses for the program other than the one in this tutorial.
Ok, now on to the instructions!
Start by scanning or taking a photo of the drawing. If you take a photo, do so in the brightest area possible so there are no shadows on the image. Also, this whole process works best if the drawing was done in marker, as crayon and pencil tend to have less defined lines. Once you have the scan or photo on your computer, open it in Illustrator.
With the image selected (blue box around it), go to Object -> Image Trace -> Make.
This will force Illustrator to detect all of the individual lines within your drawing and cut out everything else. Don’t panic if it doesn’t seem to have gotten all of the lines; this will be corrected in the next steps.
With the image still selected, click on the Image Trace Panel button.
This will bring up a box that you can use to adjust your image. Slide the “Threshold” setting up and down to adjust the line density of your drawing.
If you go too high, Illustrator will begin to detect any shadows that were present in your original photo, so try to find a balance where each line is noticeable but there are no black blobs on your image.
Once you’re satisfied with the look of your kid’s drawing digital print, go to Object -> Image Trace -> Expand.
This will solidify the lines with the threshold that you just set, so make sure you are happy with them. You should see blue selection lines around everything in your image after you click Expand.
Next, go to Object –> Live Paint –> Make.
This will basically turn your image into a coloring book. To begin coloring it in, double click on the color palette and select a color.
Now, select the paint bucket tool in order to start coloring. This tool is hidden in the side toolbar with the Shape Builder Tool.
With the paint bucket tool selected, hover over your image to see the available coloring areas. Illustrator will highlight the area to be colored in red. Click to fill when you are ready.
Once your kid’s drawing digital print is colored to your liking, all you have to do is hit print! You can frame these for your own decor or as a gift for parents and grandparents. My sister recently had her second child, so I had her oldest son make drawings to go along with the new baby’s nursery theme and then made the drawings into framed prints for nursery decor. It was a really cute and easy way to make my nephew feel included in all of the new baby activities.
You can also export the image from Illustrator as a .png or .jpg file and use it for other things. Here are some ways this kid’s drawing digital print file can be used (via Shutterfly or similar service):
- Printed on t-shirts or other clothing
- Used on greeting cards for family members
- Compiled into a keepsake book
- Printed on a mug for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day
- And many more!
Please feel free to email me if you have trouble with any part of this tutorial. Best of luck!