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How to Make a Cartoon Icon of Myself

Make a Cartoon Icon of Myself
Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt

There are many different ways to represent yourself online today. One of these ways is to have icons or avatars online. These small pictures typically appear by your name on everything from message boards to chat servers. Creating a unique icon is something that will definitely help you stand out. A great way to create a unique and original icon is to make a cartoon portrait of yourself. These can be humorous, angry, silly, or even sultry depending on your mood. The best part about an icon like this is that because it's your face, no one else will have it.

Make a Cartoon Icon of Myself
Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt

Things You'll Need:

  • Photoshop
  • Digital Photo Of Your Face
  • Mouse Or Digital Tablet (Tablet Preferred)

Open a picture of yourself in Photoshop. Click on the "Layers" tab and select "New Layer." On this layer, select the airbrush tool, and turn the pixel size down to 5 pixels. If your picture is a larger pixel size, simply make sure the circle of the airbrush tool is about the size of a pencil tip or slightly larger. On the empty layer above the photograph, trace around the chin and neck. Do the tracing by placing your cursor on the edge of the area you want traced and running the tool along the edge. Draw large circles around the eyes, as these will need to be larger than normal for your final product.

Trace around the nostrils, nose and eyebrows. Add the smile with a large, curved line that runs across the center of your mouth. This line does not need to look like your actual mouth. Trace over your hair or hat. Trace the left side of the bridge of the nose.

Trace around other prominent details of the face. If there is a mustache or beard, trace over that, but do not worry about tracing every hair. Simply capture the general feel of the shape by carefully tracing around it. If you do not have a mustache or beard, add small curved circles to the right and left sides of your face, and above and to the side of the mouth to show your cheeks.

Click the eye icon on the photograph layer to hide the photo and expose only your line work. Check to make sure your line work looks like you wanted it to, and tweak it if it doesn't. Draw large pupils in the upper center of each eye to make it look more cartoon like.

Go to the "Layers" tab and click "Duplicate Layer" on the layer that has your line art. Set the top layer of your cartoon to "multiply." Set the pixel size on your brush up to 20. Color in the all the details of the cartoon by using the airbrush on the middle line work layer. This will allow you to keep the lines that you have drawn while being able to color quickly. Add shadows to the skin by clicking down and to the right on the color selector to get a color that is a few shades darker. Add this under the chin, eyebrows, lips and nose.

Save the project as a JPEG. You can now upload it anywhere you want to use as your icon. Some websites have restrictions on pixel size for an icon. If that is the case, click "Image" then "Resize" then "Image Size," and you can change the image to meet the website's specifications. Be sure to save this smaller icon under a different name so that you don't lose your larger copy.


Use "Ctrl+Z" as a quick way to undo any mistakes you've made while working on the file.


  • Save your work often. A power outage could cause you to redo the entire project.
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