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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Prepare Your Selfie Photo
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.
Next, click on the Remove background icon at the top of the workspace.
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.
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.
Next, apply a Mercury Filter, with an Intensity of 73% and Fade of around 35%.
To create a collage, newspaper-style effect, apply a Film Stock filter with the Journo option and a Fade of 58%.
Finally, apply a Tranquil filter with around 80% Fade.
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.
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).
Go to File > Export As, then save your image as a PNG file. Make sure to check the transparent background box before exporting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continue to build up more doodles on the design. This is your chance to get really creative!
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.
Bring in more doodles to your design until you’re happy with the finished result. Great job!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take your images even farther:
Artificial intelligence software enhances aviation technology spaces. Learn how computer vision models advance aviation, autonomous flying vehicles, & drones.
Shutterstock brings fantasies to life through AI-generated art for New York Lottery’s new social campaign, #PictureAWin.
License this cover image base via contributor ShotPrime Studio.