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How do I turn a picture into a coloring page?

Turning a picture into a coloring page can be a fun and creative way to make custom coloring books or pages. With some basic image editing skills and tools, you can transform photos and other images into black and white or color outlines perfect for coloring. Read on to learn several easy methods for converting photos and pictures into coloring pages.

Choosing an Image

The first step in creating a coloring page from a picture is choosing the right image. Here are some tips for selecting a good image:

  • Pick high-quality images with good resolution. Pixelated or blurry photos will not convert well.
  • Look for images with clear outlines and not too much intricate detail. Scenes with lots of tiny details are difficult to trace.
  • Avoid images with words, logos, or text you want to keep visible. These details will likely get lost when tracing.
  • Photographs of people, animals, plants, and other objects with defined edges usually work better than landscapes.
  • Simple images with 5-10 key elements work better than cluttered photos.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate high-quality image, it’s time to convert it into a line drawing or sketch. Here are some methods for turning a picture into coloring page outlines:

Using Image Tracing Software

One of the easiest ways to turn a photo into a coloring page is using image tracing or vectorization software. Here’s how:

  1. Open the image file in your vector graphics editor or image tracing program. Some options include Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape (free), or Vector Magic (free trial available).
  2. Select the image tracing tool. This is usually under Filter, Effects, Image Trace, or similar menu options.
  3. Adjust the tracing settings. Reduce the number of colors to capture larger elements rather than details. Adjust threshold levels to reduce noise.
  4. Preview the trace and adjust settings until you get clean line art without too much noise or speckles.
  5. Convert the tracing to paths or vector graphics to finalize the linework and allow editing.
  6. Export or save the line drawing in PNG, JPG, PDF, or other image formats for coloring.

The tracing tool analyzes your image and automatically converts it to outlines for a coloring page. This provides high-quality results fast, especially for beginners.

Image Tracing Advantages and Tips

  • Works well on detailed photographs by simplifying and capturing major shapes.
  • Automated process is quick and easy compared to manual drawing.
  • Vector graphics tracing allows resizing without losing quality.
  • Play with settings like color reduction, thresholds, and noise filters to get clean outlines.
  • For portraits, trace face shapes but avoid tracing all facial features to simplify.

Using Photoshop (or Other Image Editing Software)

Adobe Photoshop and other photo editing tools like GIMP provide ways to manually draw over your image to create coloring page outlines:

  1. Open image file and convert to grayscale (Image > Mode > Grayscale).
  2. Create new transparent layer over the image layer.
  3. Select the Brush or Pencil tool, set at about 5 pixels. Use black to trace over main elements of the image on transparency layer.
  4. Use Eraser tool to clean up lines and delete excess details. Keep it simple.
  5. When finished tracing major outlines, hide the original photo layer.
  6. Export just the linework transparency layer with a white background as PNG, JPG, or PDF.

This technique takes practice to get clean, accurate outlines of an image. It allows you to hand-draw exactly the amount of detail you want.

Photoshop and Image Editing Tips

  • Adjust contrast before tracing to make edges more visible.
  • Zoom in close for tracing fine details.
  • Use curved lines instead of straight lines for more natural outlines.
  • Vary line weight by using both thick and thin strokes.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t trace all the tiny details.

Using an Online Photo to Sketch Converter

For a quick and easy way to turn photos into coloring pages, try an online image to sketch converter:

  1. Go to a website like Photo to Sketch,, or img2go.
  2. Upload your image file to the website.
  3. Let the website auto-trace your photo into a line drawing online.
  4. Download the resulting sketch image file.

These websites provide instant tracing results using AI algorithms. Although the quality varies, they can save time and effort over manual tracing for simple images.

Online Converter Tips

  • Upload high-res photos for best results.
  • Remove backgrounds beforehand for clean outlines.
  • Don’t expect perfect results. Manual touch-ups may be needed.
  • Try different sites. Each one uses slightly different algorithms.

Tips for Enhancing and Finalizing Line Art

Once you’ve created black and white line art from your image, here are some tips for perfecting the illustration into a final coloring page:

  • Smooth and simplify lines – Use path smoothing and simplification tools to reduce jagged lines.
  • Adjust line weights – Use variable strokes to make key elements bolder.
  • Refine details – Fix any uneven or messy areas using editing tools.
  • Add back some shadows – Use varying shades of gray to keep dimensionality.
  • Remove inner details – Erase or cover up finer details to leave larger spaces to color.
  • Add white space – Make sure to leave adequate blank space within shapes for coloring.

Taking the time to clean up and optimize your line art will result in a top-quality, easy to color final coloring page.

Converting a Coloring Page to Black and White Outlines

You can also start with an existing coloring page or clip art illustration and convert it to printable black and white outlines:

  1. Acquire rights if needed. Get public domain or creative commons images or purchase commercial licenses.
  2. Open the original coloring page image file in an editor.
  3. Select just the linework. Delete any internal color.
  4. Convert lines to 100% black. Remove any color.
  5. Place on white background layer and export as PNG, JPG, or PDF.

This provides clean ready-to-print templates for hand coloring or generating printables.

Tips for Printing Coloring Pages

To print and use your finished coloring pages:

  • Print on white cardstock or paper for coloring with markers or crayons.
  • For framing or art, use thicker print papers or watercolor paper.
  • Test different paper types to find what medium works best.
  • Print at high resolution (at least 300 dpi).
  • For books, print double-sided with images on one side and text on reverse.
  • Add the image to Word, PowerPoint or other apps to create digital coloring books.

Adjust your print settings for optimal image quality. Quality paper also helps final artwork look more polished.

Making Coloring Pages with Free Drawing Apps

Instead of converting photos, you can also create original coloring pages by digitally drawing with free apps:

  • Microsoft Paint – Simple painting and drawing tools for basic illustrations.
  • Inkscape – Open source vector graphics editor.
  • GIMP – Free image editing and digital painting software.
  • Google Drawings – Easy browser-based drawing program.
  • Sketchbook – Full-featured digital drawing app from Autodesk.
  • Adobe Illustrator Draw – Intuitive mobile app for illustrations.

Use these apps to create your own unique coloring pages from scratch.

Get Creative with Coloring Page Design

When designing your own coloring pages, get creative with different styles and concepts:

  • Draw portraits of loved ones or celebrities for custom coloring books.
  • Sketch your home, neighborhood, or other familiar places.
  • Create intricate mandala designs or zendoodle patterns.
  • Illustrate your favorite animals, plants, foods or hobbies.
  • Let kids draw their own artwork to turn into coloring pages.
  • Add inspirational quotes, scripture passages, or text to color.

The possibilities are endless for turning your own drawings or photos into DIY coloring pages.

Image and File Formats for Coloring Pages

When creating digital coloring pages, there are a few image and file formats to keep in mind:

Vector vs. Raster Images

  • Vector – Line art and graphics created with vector programs like Illustrator. Scales without quality loss.
  • Raster – Pixel-based images like JPG and PNG photos. Can lose quality if resized too much.

Vector line art is ideal for coloring pages that need to be scaled to different paper and printable sizes.

Recommended File Types

  • JPG – Good for photos. Compresses files but loses some quality.
  • PNG – Preferred for line art. Offers compression without quality loss.
  • PDF – Retains layers and objects. Reliable for printing documents.
  • SVG – Scalable vector format. Allows modifying and resizing vectors.

PNG is the best image format for maintaining quality of coloring page linework. PDF can also store high-resolution vectors.

Finding Coloring Pages Online

In addition to making your own, there are many sources to find free or paid coloring pages online:

  • Websites – Sites like Super Coloring offer thousands of printable pages.
  • Etsy – Sellers offer PDF coloring books and printable bundles.
  • TeachersPayTeachers – Many educators sell coloring page resources.
  • Creative Market – Marketplace with digital illustrations, vectors, and more.
  • Public libraries – Many offer free coloring sheets and books to print.

Search for specific themes, holidays, characters or topics to find relevant coloring pages for kids or adults.


Turning photos and other images into coloring pages is a fun DIY project for crafters of all ages. With digital drawing tools, image tracing software, and online converters, it’s easy to turn pictures you love into custom coloring books to print and share. Experiment with different styles and techniques to create detailed outlines ready for your colored pencils or markers. Coloring can be stress-relieving as well as nostalgic when you make pages from your own photos. With practice and creativity, you can become an expert at converting images into printable art.

Image Type Best Uses Pros Cons
Photographs Turning family photos or nature images into coloring pages Personal and emotional for colorist Can lose quality if resolution is low
Vector Images Creating scalable illustrations for printable books Crisp lines, editable, infinitely scalable Require vector illustration skills
Drawings Making completely original custom pages Full creative flexibility Need artistic drawing ability

This table summarizes the pros and cons of different image types to use as coloring page sources. Photographs work well for personalization but can be tricky to trace. Vector images allow highest print quality and editing ability. For unlimited creativity, original drawings or digital illustrations are ideal. Choose your source images based on your goals, time, and artistic skills.