Advent Calendar

Tutorial: How to draw monsters on photos, by Laura Kroschewski – Advent Calendar [5]

Maybe you have come across some of Laura Kroschewski’s inspiring and spirit lifting artworks on Instagram already. But then you will probably know her as Laura Dajana. She often gets asked, which app she uses so they could also just grab those stickers and put them on their photos, too. Can you imagine how puzzled people are, when they hear, that these are no stickers, but actually little hand drawn monsters? Well, you can stop that and get right down to learning how she does it. In case you don’t know her works yet, these are just two examples:


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A post shared by LAURA DAJANA (@lauradajana) on


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by LAURA DAJANA (@lauradajana) on

Watch the tutorial on how to draw monsters on photos the Laura Dajana style

Now, let’s take it step by step: how to draw monsters onto photos

Step one: select a photo and sketch some drafts

Laura selects photos, where she could imagine some uplifting and funny monster interacting with the surroundings. Once she made the selection, she opens the file in Photoshop and gets down to drawing a sketch of the monsters on another layer. The reason why she monsters are her favorite type of character to draw, by the way, is, besides being funny and bringing quick results, you can’t draw anything wrong. If it has three eyes or one leg, that’s totally up to your imagination and how you picture and invent your monster.

Step two: trace the outlines and create a lineart layer on top

So once you’re done with the rough sketching, it’s time to start with the refining lineart work. To help you better see the lines you want to trace, you might want to add a layer another layer, fill it with white and decrease the opacity to a level you feel comfy with. Then, you create a new layer on top and start tracing your outlines. If you have a pen tablet or a display tablet that allows for different pressure sensitivity levels, you might want to enable your brush settings to use pressure for size. This way you can do draw lines that appear more natural.

Step three: color your characters

Laura likes to fill the characters with white color first. To do so, she selects any area surrounding her characters – this will not work, if the outline of your characters have little leaks – and extends the selection. You could then invert the selection and fill it with white on a separate layer below your lineart or copy it from your white layer to a new layer and increase opacity back up. She then creates a group and masks it according to her selection, so she does not need to worry about drawing outside the outer outlines when filling the characters with color.

If you’re worried about that in general, you could always select the area you want to color from your lineart layer and fill it directly with the paint bucket tool on a new color layer – if you watch the video you will see, how many color layers Laura actually uses. And remember, if the area is not closed properly, this color will also leak everywhere else. Also, pay attention to which layer you’re working on – you do not want to be frustrated at the end when you find out you have to do some parts over again. If you want, you could also add some color details, that does not call for an outline, like she did with the sprinkles on the female character.

Step four: add highlights and shades

If you want your characters to appear less flat, you also might want to add shades and highlights. To do so, Laura adds another layer on top of her color layers and sets the opacity to 20%. Then she draws with black right where she pictures the light would create a shadow and she draws with white to highlight the parts, where light hits the monsters directly.

Step five: finalizing touches

When you see the whole artwork until now, there might be some tiny details coming to your mind that would improve the overall look of the character. Just make sure to draw them on the corresponding layer to keep the overview. And voila, you’re done – that was fun, wasn’t it?

“Thank you, Laura!”

Have you also enjoyed this tutorial and would love to see more of her uplifting works, be sure to follow her online, like on Instagram for example. To spare you some googling time, here’s where you find her, also as a professional, so check it out:



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