How to select a personal photo for a portrait
Before you even start to draw your outline, finding the right photo is key

Thanks to smartphones, we live in a time when we each have hundreds, if not thousands of pictures in our cloud-based photo albums of the people (and pets!) that we love. By all accounts, this is overall a good thing. We have tons of visual memories of special times, places, and people that we can revisit at any time.

But what happens when you want to turn one of those photos into a portrait? What works perfectly as a picture may not work quite as well when you want to paint or draw it.

Picking the right photo to convert using cupixel is key to you drawing or painting an amazing portrait. Here are some things that you want to look for when you are picking an image to use.

1. Pick a high-quality photo.

First and foremost, you want to pick an image that is clear and crisp. Luckily, with phones in almost every pocket these days, most of the photos we are taking are high quality. With that in mind, you can definitely zoom in a bit on your photo, but don’t zoom in too much, or else it will become grainy.

2. Make sure there is a clear distinction between the subject and the background.

You want to make sure that there is no blending between the person you are painting and the background. This means making sure that the lighting is good, the contrast is good, and the balance between the highlights and shadows is strong.

3. Edit your photo before uploading.

If the photo you want to use doesn’t have enough contrast, you can edit the photo before uploading it to cupixel by playing with the brightness, contrast, and black point settings within your phone’s photo app. The goal of this is to adjust the lighting and ensure that there is enough distinction between the subject from the background.

Watch “How to edit your photo” on the app

4. Adjust photo settings in cupixel

Once you have selected a good photo and uploaded it to the app, cupixel lets you adjust the details of the photo in four ways:


  • Makes the width of the lines in your photo thinner or thicker
  • Can affect how detailed your photo looks


  • With contours down, your photo will appear softer
  • If you put the contours up and the width down, you will have something that is more detailed


  • Shows more or less shadows, depending on the settings
  • Can affect how heavy the photo looks


  • Shows more or less details, depending on the settings

Feel free to adjust those until the photo looks just right to you. And remember, you don’t need to worry about little details that may be missing.

Once the photo is how you want it, click over to the “Trace” tab to start creating your portrait!

Watch “Choosing a photo: Portrait” in the app

Paint a selfie

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what does your portrait say about you?

Transform your selfie into a pop-art painting that speaks for itself! Join our in-house artist in uploading your photo, turning it into an outline, transferring it onto your canvas, and painting with one or two colors to make your self-portrait pop!

Experience type: Smart trace-powered painting

Time: 57 minutes


Square surface for painting (canvas works great, but printer paper will do the trick, also!)

  • Pencil
  • Paint (acrylic if you have them!)
  • Paint brushes
  • Cup of water

You can find all our portrait experiences in our “Personal Photos” category in the app, or click below to go directly to this experience!