Introduction: $2 Sketch Portrait Maker

Picture of $2 Sketch Portrait Maker

Who doesn't love sketch of themselves or their loved ones?
and but...
 You probably don't have a Tablet PC (or iPad), drawing skills are good for making amoeba and lazy enough to not use existing copying techniques then I have something for you (sounds pretty theatrical ) - A $2 Sketch portrait maker easy enough that a child can make realistic sketches (and obviously not using that computer tricks).

You just have to take a picture (or use which is already on your mobile phone or digital camera) place it over the device and draw on any flat surface like cards,books,etc. and  not only on thin paper !!!

Make a sketch of your loved one and gift him/her.

Step 1: Materials Required

 A shoe box
Two magnifying glasses (i.e. convex lens) of two different focal lengths-in my case they are 6cm and 20 cm. You can use different focal lengths also but make sure that they have a difference as large as mine. Finding focal length is fairly simple, here's the Youtube video link of someone ""  (just see the approximate focal length part).
Paper Cutter
Sticking tape
A ruler
30 minutes

Step 2: Cutting and Sticking

Picture of Cutting and Sticking

 Step1 : Cut your shoe box as shown in fig., it should be the size just less than your mobile phone screen or the screen of your digital camera, PSP, etc.

Step 2 : Take the lid of the shoe box and divide it into two length wise and make circular holes of the size just less than that of the two different lenses (but don't stick the glasses yet)

Step 3: Finding the Right Height for Cuts

Picture of Finding the Right Height for Cuts

 Step 1 : Now put your display  brightness of mobile phone, etc. to highest and put it facing downward on the cut you made on the box then bring the smaller lens below it as shown in fig. and adjust it by moving it up & down so that you see the image of mobile screen display on the base of the shoe box clearly. (it will not be that clear therefore we will use second lens)

Step 2 : Now you know where to set the smaller lens you have to make a cut on the shoe box(see fig)and after sticking the smaller lens to the cut you made earlier using tape(tape it only sidewise not in the centre of lens) place it in the cut on the shoe box.

Step 3 : Now bring the second bigger lens below the smaller lens (which you just fixed in step 2)
and adjust it the same way as in step 1&2 to get a clear image(this time it will be really clear) and fix it in the shoe box same as in step 2.

Step 4:

Picture of

 Now you are done the final product should look like as shown in fig
All you have to do is put a paper or any flat surface on the base and open the picture on your device of which you want to make the sketch of and start making on the projected image using a pencil or pen.

Step 5:

Picture of

Now take a pen or pencil and start outlining the basic features of the photo, then add details like wrinkles or hairs,etc. . For better results switch off the lights and set the brightness of the display to maximum.

If you are in a real hurry then I have an another idea :
Take a regular paper who's thickness should be around the standard A4 sheets we use for printing at home and then wrap that paper onto your mobile/camera display with the photo open and brightness max. You will be seeing an image on the paper. Now simply draw on the paper. But it works only for thin papers therefore I made this instructable  so that you can make on any surface like cards,cardboards,fabric,etc.


Check out another exiting experiments at


happybuilder (author)2010-02-26


manish15 (author)happybuilder2010-02-27

 because I wanted it for everyone.Thanks.

happybuilder (author)manish152010-02-27

 I know, but that is just cheap!

ilpug (author)happybuilder2011-10-13

If you can scrounge the materials, you could make this for free.

Parapegma (author)2010-02-08

 Wonderful high tech twist to a drawing technique that has been around since at least the 1500s, maybe even longer. In effect, it's a bit as though you've reinvented the camera obscura.  Camera obscura were perhaps invented by the Romans, and there are scholarly battles going on now among art historians whether mirrors were used in the Renaissance to achieve a similar effect. Certainly the use of mirrors or camera obscura  to cast strong images and trace from seems to have been used by such artists as Carravaggio and Vermeer. Or so some claim. Canaletto was very open in his use of a camera obscura for sketching and the 19th Century in particular brought a number of devices on to the market like it, some of which are still available. You might like to look up the antecedents of your technique in book, "The Science of Art" 

craftyv (author)Parapegma2010-09-22

Is this the book by David Hockney? I have borrowed it several times from the library.
I recommend it to everyone it is absolutely gob-smacking and really inspiring.
Tthanks a lot.

manish15 (author)Parapegma2010-02-09

 I searched about and yes you were absolutely correct.Thanks.

anglerfish (author)2010-05-22

Thank you!  This will be very helpful.

greiss122 (author)2010-03-05

This looks great!
I just went and picked up some lenses and I'm going to build it ASAP!

Nice Instructable.

manish15 (author)greiss1222010-03-12


wokwithme (author)2010-02-24

Great Idea! Sounds like something a Sculptor would do.

manish15 (author)wokwithme2010-02-27

 OK you can say me a digital sculptor.Thanks.

snapel (author)2010-02-25

 This will definetly help with my art class : ) Thanks a lot !

manish15 (author)snapel2010-02-27

 Then what are you waiting for? Enjoy!!

Speedmite (author)2010-02-19

Print it out, use a light table, trace it that way. Then your hand wont get in the way. and no dealing with lenses.

manish15 (author)Speedmite2010-02-19

 speedmite I already mentioned similar way (see last  step) but you cant draw on thick cards,books,etc. in that way. Thanks.

Speedmite (author)manish152010-02-20


True. But couldnt you trace n' paste?


marjorieallea (author)2010-02-19

You rock!!!  This is an awesome instructable!!!

manish15 (author)marjorieallea2010-02-19

 Thank you very much marjor

agis68 (author)2010-02-18

 Excellent project. I have a Ipod Touch and I do a lot of designs like logos. I will build it during the next days...

manish15 (author)agis682010-02-19

 thanks agis68 I actually started with ipod first.

Greasetattoo (author)2010-02-18

Great instructable...

I am a tattoo artist and I have people bring in artwork on their phone.
I cannot copy it with my copier.
Now, I have a way!

manish15 (author)Greasetattoo2010-02-18

I am planning a tattoo for myself now.

suckrpnch (author)Greasetattoo2010-02-18

Interesting. I was thinking "why would anyone do this?" But that is a great application...

manish15 (author)suckrpnch2010-02-18

 Thanks suckrpnch. -by the way interesting member name. 

pcairic (author)2010-02-18

I have a better idea. How about just printing the image downloaded from the internet? You can scale it, rotate it, even change the colours and make as many copies as you want.

Hahaha! Just kidding!

Nice instructable :-)

manish15 (author)pcairic2010-02-18

 u just got me pcairic. thanks!

buteman (author)2010-02-14

Great idea. I just got some new shoes so have a good strong box and wondered what to do with it.
Now I know ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

manish15 (author)buteman2010-02-14

 Have a great project buteman

astro boy (author)2010-02-13

 pretty neat i used to use a powerful lens with my camera to make a projector so i could watch movies on a bigger screen on road trips, i never thought to use it like this!

manish15 (author)astro boy2010-02-14

 Actually the projector project was my inspiration

whiteoakart (author)2010-02-10

Nice job, Manish.  A nice simple way to trace a photo. 

manish15 (author)whiteoakart2010-02-10

 Thank you whiteokart

Frivolous Engineering (author)2010-02-08

Simple and effective!  Well done.

 Thank you so much

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