Make Your Own Photo Pencils

photo pencils
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

Wanna know the only phrase we remember from high-school Russian class?
“My pencil is very big and hard.”

This means 2 things:
1. We’re not as mature as we pretend to be.
2. We kinda like pencils.

So we have a pencil project this week!

Wrap some photos around your pencils, and we guarantee you’ll be the coolest kid on your block. (Well, you know, the coolest kid that has photo pencils.)

p.s. Want to design the new Photojojo T-shirt? The winner of our design contest gets a free Eye-Fi, plus a credit and a link when we announce the winner. Check out Pixish for details!

p.p.s. We have new episodes of Donnie’s “You Suck at Photoshop” tutorials. (Remember, some folks might be offended.)

The Ingredient list


  • Set of 12 colored pencils
  • Ruler
  • Scissors or cutting blade
  • Acid-free rubber cement or glue stick
  • Clear tape — Matte finish is ideal.

Step 1: Print your photo

Choose a photo that doesn’t have too much fine detail. Portraits work well, as do landscapes.

Using your favorite image editing software, crop your chosen photo to 5×6 inches.

Print 3 copies on plain (not photo) paper.*

*If you don’t have a computer and/or printer, you can use 3 copies of a 5×7 photo. However, the stiff photo paper will be harder to wrap around the pencils. You might try wrapping the strips around the pencils, securing them with rubber bands, and leaving them overnight before trying to glue them in place.

Step 2: Mark the back of the photo

mark linesDivide the photo into four 1.25 inch wide sections (lengthwise), using a pencil and ruler.

Step 3: Cut your photo into strips

cut stripsCut along the three lines you just drew to slice each photo in four.

You should end up with three identical copies of each strip. You’ll use strip A for the first three pencils, strip B for the next three, and so on.

Step 4: Apply glue to the back of each strip

glue backApply glue to the back of the first strip, being careful not to get any glue on the front of the picture.

Step 5: Wrap the strip around the pencil

wrap pencilAttach a piece of tape to the front of the strip. The tape should be as long as the strip; you’ll use it to tape the free edge of the strip down once it’s wrapped around the pencil.

Wrap the strip lengthwise around your first pencil. (We found it easiest to place the strip on the table, put the pencil on top and roll.) Tape down the free edge of the strip.

Step 6: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

final productRepeat the process for the rest of the eleven strips and pencils.

Now line up your pencils, and rotate them so that the picture aligns across the row of pencils.

Is that cool or what?

Where to go from here

Now that you have mastered the art of the photo pencil, here are a couple more ideas to take you further…

  • Who says you need a matched set? Use individual photos for individual pencils. Choose a photo that will still be recognizable when it’s only a centimeter wide: details of grass or a bunch of M&M’s spring to mind.
  • Use a different photo for each pencil, using colors that match the pencils (roses for red, blue sky for blue…)
  • Use this technique to cover up the bite marks on the old pencils in your desk drawer (we know you have them)!
  • Check out these amazing pencil sculptures.
  • Learn how to twirl your pencil.

Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt.