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How to Make Mixed Media Art and "Doodlebomb" Designs

How to Make Mixed Media Art and “Doodlebomb” Designs

Learn how to “doodlebomb” your photos and projects with this guide to the mixed media design trend. A fun and ultra-creative way to transform photos into characterful collage art!

If you were a daydreaming doodler in your school days, this whimsical design trend is tailor-made for you. Today, doodling has been professionalized, resulting in beautiful multimedia art designs that dial up the whimsy, nostalgia, and cartoonish charm.

Read on to discover more about this mixed media art trend, how it’s making a mark in advertising, and discover how to create your own animated doodlebomb design in Shutterstock Create.

Transform a simple selfie or portrait photo into a doodlebomb design with the Shutterstock Create tutorial below.

Young beautiful woman with drawings on body

License this image via Master1305.

What Is a Mixed Media Doodlebomb?

Imagine the humble doodles you drew in your childhood notebooks . . . now take them up a notch! You can doodlebomb any design to create collage art, but generally the technique works best with photos, particularly portraits.

The idea is to embellish your chosen photo with lots of creative illustrations (or doodles), which might have a particular style, such as painterly, cartoonish, or tattoo style. If you can transform your photo into something different or make a witty statement, all the better!

The original doodlebomber (and the artist who coined the name) is London-based “professional doodler” Hattie Stewart, who unleashed her signature colorful, cartoonish style on high-fashion magazine covers.

Hattie’s incredible career has seen her create work for fashion brands, music artists, and publications such as The New York Times, GQ, and Interview Magazine, which just goes to show that doodling can be a serious business. 

Left: Kendall Jenner, Vogue Italia by Hattie Stewart (2022). Right: Rihanna, Vogue by Hattie Stewart (2014).

Other notable doodlebomb artists include Ana Strumpf, who applies whimsical, folk-style doodles to fashion photography, and Israel G. Vargas, who has a more grown-up style that translates to mixed media art for business publications and newspaper campaigns. 

Mexican artist Selman Hoşgör pushes the boundaries of the collage art style even further by using 3D textures and materials in his signature colorful collage creations.

These doodlebomb artists are in huge demand across the fashion and advertising worlds, in part because they create images that you simply can’t look away from. Like high fashion on steroids, these mixed media creations bring the fun factor back into portrait photography.

Doodlebomb collage designs by Brazilian illustrator Ana Strumpf.

Left: MIT Sloan Series by Israel G Vargas. Right: The New York Times Sunday Business: “The Harvard Job Offer That Wasn’t” by Israel G Vargas.

“Organized Robot” by Selman Hoşgör.

This multimedia art trend is a whimsical take on collage art, which is all about layering up a dense mixture of photos, graphics, and type to create a doodlebomb effect.

One of the key features of the doodlebomb style is its ability to give a fresh twist to images that might be otherwise serious or aspirational, making them feel instantly more lighthearted, lively, and accessible.

You’ll notice doodlebomb collage art is particularly effective when applied to high-end fashion photography, for example, or even political imagery, which is a natural subject for anarchic collage art. 

Doodlebomb collages don’t have to be complex or difficult to achieve. It’s really all about being as creative and carefree as possible, and working with the potential of the base photo.

For example, doodles can look more effective if they follow the lines or curves of the photo’s subject, making them look more integrated into the design, or if they’re styled to create a witty juxtaposition with the subject matter.

Have a serious selfie that looks a little snooty? Try using colorful cartoon-like doodles to increase the fun factor and turn a moody image on its head.

Clockwise from top-left: License these images via Master1305, Master1305,, and Master1305.

Ready to have a go at creating your own doodlebomb design?

In the following tutorial, you’ll learn how to make a mixed media collage, transforming a simple portrait photo into a fantastical collage design for sharing on social media.

You’ll also learn how to animate your design in just a few clicks, taking your doodlebomb to the next level. 

Closeup of an Asian model with doodles around and across her face

How to Make a Doodlebomb in Shutterstock Create

Creating your own doodlebombs is so fun! In this quick beginner’s Shutterstock Create tutorial, you’ll learn how to transform a standard selfie into a work of art with this mixed media collage style.

If you’re short on time (or doodling ability), you don’t even need to draw your own doodles with the ready-made doodle kit suggestions below. 

In a few steps, we’ll prepare our selfie for doodlebombing, bring in doodle illustrations, and animate the finished design in just a couple of clicks to really bring it to life. 

What You’ll Need to Create Your Doodlebomb Collage Art

To create your doodlebomb, you’ll need a portrait photo or selfie, which shows most of the subject’s head. You’ll also need to either draw and vectorize doodles to apply to your design in free online app Shutterstock Create, or simply download some of the doodle vector selections below. 

This design uses the following vector images. You’ll need access to vector software, such as Adobe Illustrator, to prepare the doodles as PNG images for using on your design.

We’ll look at how to do just that in the tutorial.

Clockwise from top-left: License these images via Bibadash, Olga_Lots, and Alona Savchuk.

Prepare Your Selfie Photo

Step 1

In this design, I’m going to use this portrait photo by contributor ShotPrime Studio, but you can also use your own selfie or portrait photo.

Let’s begin by going to Shutterstock Create and choosing Instagram Post from the blank canvas options. Alternatively, choose a different canvas size to suit your design. 

Go to Graphics > Add your own graphic and upload your chosen photo. Drop it onto the canvas and size to fill the area available. 

Screenshot of how to add an image to a canvas in Shutterstock Create editor
Place your chosen photo onto the canvas. License this image via contributor ShotPrime Studio.

Next, click on the Remove background icon at the top of the workspace.

Screenshot of how to remove a background in Shutterstock Create editor
Remove the background in just one click!

Click on Change Color to create a new background color. I’ve gone for a pale cream swatch—#FEF2E6—to really help the colorful doodles pop. 

Screenshot of how to add background color to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Create a pale, neutral backdrop for your design.

Step 2

Now, it’s time to get creative with filters!

Click on Edit image > Filters, and scroll down to Journo under the Monochrome Filters section. Choose Pushed, then bring the Fade up to 12%. Click Apply

Screenshot of how to convert a photo to black and white in Shutterstock Create editor
Convert the photo to black and white.

Next, apply a Mercury Filter, with an Intensity of 73% and Fade of around 35%

Screenshot of how to apply a Mercury filter to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
A Mercury filter increases the contrast in the image.

To create a collage, newspaper-style effect, apply a Film Stock filter with the Journo option and a Fade of 58%

Screenshot of how to apply a Film Stock filter to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
A Film Stock filter creates a slightly grainy effect.

Finally, apply a Tranquil filter with around 80% Fade.

Screenshot of how to apply a Tranquil filter to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Use the Tranquil filter to blend the image into the background a little.


Step 1

Now, we’re ready to start thinking about doodlebombing our photo! Before we do this, we’ll need to prepare the doodles as PNG images so they’re ready for us to use on the design. 

First, open one of the doodle images, such as these snakes, in a vector program. Next, isolate one of the doodle illustrations and Edit > Copy it. 

Illustration of snakes in various positions
Open your doodle illustrations in vector software. License this image via contributor Alona Savchuk.

Create a new document no larger than 1000 px in width and height, and Edit > Paste the illustration onto the canvas. Here, you can adjust the colors of the doodle from the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches).

Try experimenting with bright pastels or neon colors for doodles that pop from the page!

Screenshot of how to adjust colors in a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Adjust the color of your graphics before exporting.

Go to File > Export As, then save your image as a PNG file. Make sure to check the transparent background box before exporting.

Screenshot of how to export your illustrations in Shutterstock Create editor
Export your illustrations as PNG files.

Step 2

Once you’ve prepared your chosen doodles as transparent-background PNG images, return to your Shutterstock Create design. 

Click on Graphics > Add your own graphic, and choose one of the PNG doodles. I’m going to place polka dots over the subject’s shirt. 

Screenshot of how to add graphics to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Screenshot of how to add graphics to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Place your prepared doodle graphics onto the design. License this polka dot image via Olga_Lots.

By adjusting all the Exposure settings to 100%, I can reverse the black polka dots to white—before changing the color to pink—using the Color Changer option under Edit image > Create Effects

Screenshot of how to adjust the color to graphics in Shutterstock Create editor
You can easily adjust the color of doodles directly in Shutterstock Create.

Next, use the Erase tool at the top of the workspace to remove any polka dots or other doodles that sit outside the boundaries of the subject. 

Screenshot of how to erase extra graphics from a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Erase elements of the doodles to blend them onto the design.

Step 3

Return to Graphics > Add your own graphic to place a second doodle, such as one of the snake illustrations.

When you place your doodles, look for ways to integrate the doodle more naturally onto the design, such as curving an illustration around a shoulder or eye.

This is the key to a really great doodlebomb.

Screenshot of how to positions graphics on a canvas in Shutterstock Create editor
Curve the doodles around the subject’s features.

Use the Erase tool to even more seamlessly integrate the doodle onto the design, creating a three-dimensional effect by bringing some elements—such as the fingers, in this example—forward.

Screenshot of how to use the Erase tool in Shutterstock Create editor
Use the Erase tool to remove aspects of the doodle that overlap features, such as fingers or hands.

Continue to build up more doodles on the design. This is your chance to get really creative!

Screenshot of how to adjust graphics on a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Screenshot of how to adjust graphics to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Embellish your design with colorful eyelashes!

Step 4

You can also enhance your doodlebomb by drawing your own creations straight onto the design.

To do this, go to Drawing and choose the Paintbrush tool. Adjust the Color, Size, Hardness, and Strength to create an airbrush effect, and then apply lip color, eyeshadow, and blush to your photo. 

Screenshot of how to add color to elements of your design in Shutterstock Create editor
Screenshot of how to add color to elements of your design in Shutterstock Create editor
Airbrush color onto the photo.

Bring in more doodles to your design until you’re happy with the finished result. Great job!

Screenshot of how to adjust graphics to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Screenshot of how to apply the Boost filter to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
You can also apply a Boost filter effect to boost the color of elements on your design. License these background doodles via Bibadash.

Step 5

To give your design an authentic collage look, you can apply a texture overlay as a finishing touch. 

Go to Images and search for “newspaper texture.” Choose one of the seamless texture images, and click to drop it onto the canvas.

Screenshot of how to add textures to a design in Shutterstock Create editor
A halftone-style texture will create a newspaper collage effect.

Expand the image to fill the whole canvas. With the texture image selected, go to Edit image > Creative Effects > Fade & Blend. Set the Blend mode to Screen and bring the Fade up pretty high, to around 95%, to blend the texture over the design.

Screenshot of how to blend a texture onto a design in Shutterstock Create editor
Blend the texture onto the design.

How to Animate Your Doodlebomb

You can now Download your doodlebomb as a static JPEG or PNG image, but why not add some quick animation effects to really make your doodlebomb stand out?

Select one of the doodle illustrations on the design and click on Animate. From here, you can experiment with applying different animation effects to each doodle.

Click on the Play button at the bottom of the workspace to preview the animation as you go. 

Screenshot of animation options in Shutterstock Create editor
Choose from a range of preloaded animation effects to apply to your doodlebomb design.

It’s that easy! Once you’ve finished animating more of the doodles, click on the red Download button at top-right and choose GIF animated image or MP4 video to download the animated design to your computer. 

Your doodlebomb is now finished and ready to upload to your social media account to share with your followers and friends.

Awesome work!

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