Cartoonify Your Family Holiday Portraits in These 4 Easy Steps

Create personality-packed illustrations inspired by your family photos with Illustrator Draw

by Adobe Drawing and Painting Team

posted on 12-04-2018

Kayla Coombs is a scientist turned seasoned Illustrator and character designer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her love for cartoons began when she was “a lil’ bean”, and since then, she has created dozens of characters and stories that thousands of people have fallen in love with.

“I love drawing human characters because you can connect so strongly with them,” Kayla says. “From just the expression on their face, you can tell a lot about their personality and relate to them.”

We asked Kayla how to replicate this style for every skill level. She shared these four easy tips to help get you started on the most epic holiday portrait yet – your family and wallet will thank you.

Step 1

First, find a recent family photo to work from.

Don’t worry if some minor details like glasses or hairstyle have changed since the photo was taken, we can update all of that with the magic of art.

This is a relatively recent photo of my family but I now have short hair – looks like cartoon me is getting a haircut!

Step 2

Draw a rough sketch using the photo as a guide.

Feel free to get creative! Exaggerate facial features, rearrange people, update old hairstyles and change clothing. For a more cartoony look try using big eyes and huge cheesy smiles.

Step 3

Create a new project in Adobe Draw and select the A4 Landscape format (ideal for printing your finished portrait).

Scan or take a photo of your sketch and import it as a new Image Layer (using the + icon above the layer list). Now you can start adding color!

I like to use the Basic Taper brush to outline then color each character in my sketch.

Tip: Draw the facial features, accessories, outlines, and colors of each character on separate layers so they’re easy to rearrange and resize later. While you’re at it, label your layers so you can keep track of them!

Step 4

Once you’re happy with your characters export the drawing to Illustrator CC (tap the Export icon then Adobe Desktop Apps > Illustrator CC).

When your file opens in Illustrator all the layers you created in Draw will be preserved, so you can finetune the placement of your family members with ease.

I spaced my family out a little and cropped the drawing in an oval for a clean finish. Don’t forget to add a signature to your masterpiece!

Step 5 (Optional, but not optional)

Why stop here?? You’ve drawn all your family members on different layers so now you can rearrange them however you like!

How about a portrait of just Mum and Dad? Or the kids flying solo? Or a mother-daughter moment? With this one family drawing, you’ve got Christmas, Wedding Anniversary, Birthday and Mother’s Day gifts covered – just get them printed and you’re good to go!

“Don’t be afraid to experiment,” Kayla says. “The beauty of digital art is that you have an “undo” button. If anything goes wrong, no one will ever have to know. So, have fun!”

Need more Kayla Coombs illustrations in your life? Check out more her portfolio and make sure to follow her on Instagram for the latest projects and tutorials.

Topics: Creativity, Illustration

Products: Creative Cloud