Copycat Painting


Have you spotted an image online that you would love to be able to paint? Maybe a favorite TV show or movie character for yourself or as a gift? If you are good at tracing and/or are a perfectionist, this form of painting will work for you. At least till you hone your creative skills.

Step 1:

Find an image, preferably something that is simple with definite lines/borders for tracing. I would steer clear of real images or paintings with a lot of fine details. Cartoons like this one below are the easiest to start with.

Once you have your image, expand it to the size you want on your laptop or computer screen, (if you have a printer, print away!). If you don’t have a printer, prepare to gently trace the image, never press hard against your screen! I just lay a thin paper on my laptop face and lightly trace all the lines inside and out of the image onto the sheet.

Nelliel 2

(Here is the original image of Neiliel a.k.a Nel from Bleach)

Your trace should look like this with all the major components clearly copied.


Step 2:

Here comes the tricky part, cutting out your traced image. The thing to remember here is to take your time, try not to skip over fingers and toes and do the best you can at keeping your cuts smooth.

Just focus on cutting out the image as a whole first. Follow the outer line. Once you do that, trace the image onto a canvas. You can use a pencil or pen depending on how you want to fix any mistakes that might occur. If you use a pen you can use white paint to cover up mistakes (assuming you are using a white canvas).


Step 3:

Now it’s time to cut out the finer details. That means dissecting your whole image into traceable pieces. For example, I followed the line of her skull helmet, after cutting that out I traced it onto the canvas, lining it up with where it would be. I repeated this throughout the image, cutting along where her hair framed her face and tracing that, cutting out her eyes and tracing them, feet, fingers, arms etc. Till the image looked like the original traced upon the canvas. If you own an art projector you can avoid all that cutting!

Step 4:

It’s time to paint! This is the fun part, start by painting in all the base colors, don’t worry about shading. Try to stay within the lines, if you do overlap that isn’t a big deal, often you can thin the paint by drying your brush and then moving it over the line you had covered, the pen should show through and you can retrace it later.

I painted Nel piece by piece. It took two coats to cover the darker parts like her clothing and hair. After each piece was dry I then mixed a little black or brown into the paint to create a shaded hue for the wrinkles in her clothes, the shadows of her features etc. If shading doesn’t look smooth and natural, add a tiny drop of water to your mix. After that, I re-traced her lines with a thinly pointed marker.


If you notice, the original painting added detailed shading lines to the skull helmet, I improvised by adding a darker hue and crisscrossing lines instead to create a broken cracked look to the skull, since Nel’s helmet was broken. You may need to add a touch of improvision to your image to substitute more diverse painting styles or details. In other words, the painting can be as detailed as you want it to be, you decide the stopping point.(I left out the extra details in her hair)

(My finished painting is at the top of the page)

That is how you copycat paint! if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to see your paintings! 😃


4 thoughts on “Copycat Painting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s