DIY: Make a Scratch-Off Photo Valentine





Introduction: DIY: Make a Scratch-Off Photo Valentine

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You may have only interacted with a scratch-off card while trying to win the lottery (it's okay, I’ve tried and failed, too). But, did you know that you can easily make your own scratch-offs using dish soap and acrylic paint? It's really that easy.

To take your scratch-off cards to the next level, try following our tutorial below to create scratch-off Polaroids. It will fool your recipient into thinking you gave them an unexposed photo -- that is, until they read the message and scratch away. A perfect gift for Valentine’s Day, this photo trick will surely leave an impression with the one you love. Here's a short video explaining all the steps - you can also follow our step-by-step instructions listed in this post. 

Step 1: Collect Your Materials


A Polaroid camera and film OR
A 3″x3″ photo print
Black acrylic paint
Dish soap
Scotch tape
Paper plate (or surface for mixing paint)
Piece of paper
Paint brush
Black marker

Step 2: TAKE a PHOTO

Get creative and remember that your Valentine will have to do a small amount of work to reveal your photo. What type of secret message do you want to send?

The easiest way to get a Polaroid photo is to shoot one! (Psst, you can find Polaroid cameras here. Or if you need film, Impossible Project makes some!)

If you don’t have access to a Polaroid camera, you can always make a faux Polaroid by cutting out a 3″x3″ photo print and crafting a card stock border. A Polaroid print is 3 1/2″ x 4 1/4″, so cut the border out to be that size and paste your print on top.

A short cut to that is using a Polaroid Postcard to frame your photo print.


Combine one part dish soap to two parts acrylic paint and blend on a paper plate or whatever mixing surface you chose.

We used black paint, but you can use any color (red the color of loooove, mayhaps?).


Use your scotch tape to cover the white edges of your Polaroid photo. The tape will protect the edges from getting paint on them.

Use the same tape to stick your Polaroid down to a sheet of paper. This will be your paint surface.

Step 5: PAINT

With your paint mixture and brush, paint over the photo section of your Polaroid.

Use a similar stroke (sideways or up and down) throughout so that your paint dries better. Once dry (about an hour), paint a second coat to completely conceal your photo.


Once dry, remove your scotch tape from the borders of your Polaroid.


Using your black marker, write a note like “Scratch Me” on the bottom of your Polaroid.

Seal it in an envelope (and/or with a kiss) and get ready to surprise your Valentine!

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    17 Discussions

    And it doesn't scratch the picture?

    Actually Polaroid still exists, they just don't produce film anymore. But Project Impossible makes 600 type instant film cartridges, they're around $24 for a pack of eight but they exist. Also for a cheaper price you can get older 100 type packfilm for older polaroids like the land camera series. They're made by fuji and cost around $7-10 for a pack of 10.

    They still have a website ( and you can get the film packs on Amazon, amongst other places ;)

    Oooh, I saw this on Photojojo earlier. It's such an awesome idea :D

    They don't make poloroid film anymore. Do you find that matte or glossy prints work better?

    This is really neat! Now I can make a "lotto ticket of love." This is gonna be fun!

    Made this for my dads birthday!
    We had to make it in about 15 minutes because he was on his way home!
    We made this his card, and then attached a nickel to the front of the envelope.
    Thanks, I’ve been looking for something like this. love it!

    I made a "lottery ticket" for my wife. I printed it on my inkjet, but covered it with packing tape. Here's the pic w/o the "prizes" I added for her:

    Queen of my heart.jpg

    Thank you for your efforts. Photos with dye based ink may be preserved with a spray from a can of Krylon low odor, clear finish. Locally we have the Gloss type and a Matte type. I spray my digital photos after they have dryed. I usually spray these photos in two differing directions. Sometimes I also spray printed text, with or with out photos. As always safety first. Do not breath these fumes. There are ibles here about spray booths and ventilating ideas.

    Shouldn't this work with inkjet printed photos, too? Great instructable, either way!

    Have you tried this with a normal photograph? How about an inkjet print printed with waterproof pigmented ink? I know water soluble dye-based inks would fail.

    I remember doing this, but I did it with a DVD and made a little Ornament! I also didn't use the dish soap.