Daddy’s Little Monsters: Father Uses Computer Witchcraft To Produce Real-Life Animal Drawings

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Every Parent Has It: A collection of treasured daubs, lovingly drawn by their children, but barely recognizable to anyone outside of the immediate family.

With a few stick legs, two crooked eyes and a drop for a body, their naivety is part of their charm and a poignant reminder of the innocence of childhood.

But one father was so tickled by his two young sons’ early attempts at animal drawings that he reimagined them as real-life photographs – with utterly hilarious (albeit slightly terrifying) results.

Tom Curtis transformed sons Dominic and Alistair’s doodles into a worldwide bestselling Instagram account and bestselling book. “I start by almost mapping the photograph to the drawing”, he explains.

Using Photoshop editing software, Tom Curtis turned the doodles of sons Dominic and Alistair into a worldwide bestselling Instagram account and bestselling book.

“I start by almost mapping the photograph to the drawing,” he explains.

“I never change the drawing because I love the way young children often seem to draw animals with eyes on the same side of their head. I gradually build the image like a puzzle by adding pieces of photographs and placing them in the drawing until I have a kind of digital collage. ‘

Tom’s Things I Have Drawn Instagram account was launched in 2015 and two years later Things I Have Drawn At The Zoo was published, based on his sons’ visits to the Whipsnade Zoo.

Today, the Instagram account has over 600,000 followers and Tom is inundated with drawings from young people around the world, eager to see their art immortalized.

Tom also accompanies the images with a poem – his zebra photo above, for example, has the witty song: “A zebra is a lot like a black and white horse. Here is one (with something missing of course). ‘

Tom's Things I Have Drawn Instagram account was launched in 2015 and two years later Things I Have Drawn At The Zoo was published, based on his sons' visits to the Whipsnade Zoo.

Tom’s Things I Have Drawn Instagram account was launched in 2015 and two years later Things I Have Drawn At The Zoo was published, based on his sons’ visits to the Whipsnade Zoo.

Each image takes 44-year-old Tom approximately ten hours to create. “I have a full-time job as the creative director of the communications agency MediaCom, but I hate going offline, so most weekends I’ll be on the couch watching TV with my wife Becky with my laptop in my lap working on a new creation. ‘

Dom was only five and Al two when TIHD started, but at 11 and eight the boys’ designs are now almost too fancy.

Fortunately, Tom still has files full of their old drawings scattered around his Buckinghamshire home, as well as those he receives from young fans.

“The ideal age for these type of designs is between four and seven – when a child can start to recognize the shape, but they don’t look too real yet,” he says.

“I don’t plan on quitting because I like to encourage children to draw. “

And with Britain in lockdown, there’s never been a better time to get creative.

“You can’t go to the zoo right now, but if you have a garden or if you can see things from your window like a butterfly or a bird, you can draw,” says Tom.

Here Tom speaks to us through some of his bary but brilliant images …

Things I Drew at the Zoo by Tom Curtis. Trapeze Books, £ 9.99

Toucan plays this game: A little boy named Seb, the son of a work colleague, drew it when he was eight years old.  The photo is from a photo I took at the house of a blackbird - and I also can't guarantee that the legs are from a toucan!

Toucan plays this game: A little boy named Seb, the son of a work colleague, drew it when he was eight years old. The photo is from a photo I took at the house of a blackbird – and I also can’t guarantee that the legs are from a toucan!

Wonky Woodpecker: I found this lying around the house recently in one of the stacks of photos of the kids.  Very young children often draw a mouth and a beak!

Wonky Woodpecker: I found this lying around the house recently in one of the stacks of photos of the kids. Very young children often draw a mouth and a beak!

Why the long face?  This drawing is from Béatrice, 6 years old, from our village, when she was camping.  It's a horse, of course!  I put a bunch of pens and paper on a table for the kids to draw and Beatrice was particularly prolific

Why the long face? This drawing is from Béatrice, 6 years old, from our village, when she was camping. It’s a horse, of course! I put a bunch of pens and paper on a table for the kids to draw and Beatrice was particularly prolific

Jaws the Goldfish: Al drew this when he was seven.  You can just make out his brother in the background of the picture.  This sparked an online debate as to whether it was a mouth or a fin on the body!  Fortunately, the comments are always cheerful and positive

Jaws the Goldfish: Al drew this when he was seven. You can just make out his brother in the background of the picture. This sparked an online debate as to whether it was a mouth or a fin on the body! Fortunately, the comments are always cheerful and positive

Not a perfect smile: it's Cleo the cat that belongs to our friends Florence and Elise de Peckham.  It was from Dom when he was eight and his style had become more cartoonish.  The teeth are mine, from a selfie!

Not a perfect smile: it’s Cleo the cat that belongs to our friends Florence and Elise de Peckham. It was from Dom when he was eight and his style had become more cartoonish. The teeth are mine, from a selfie!

Looks a little harsh: Tia, our neighbor across the street, took this photo of her dog Mia for me when she was nine years old.  It has a cartoon element and it's a great way to get older kids involved.

Looks a little harsh: Tia, our neighbor across the street, took this photo of her dog Mia for me when she was nine years old. It has a cartoon element and it’s a great way to get older kids involved.

Dom drew this when he was six

Editing all the spots on a giraffe would have taken hours, so I used a photo of a horse and added the pattern

You’re gonna have a giraffe: Dom drew this when he was six. Editing all the spots on a giraffe would have taken hours, so I used a photo of a horse and added the pattern.

He's

He’s “quite armless: Al drew this when he was four and I made sure to keep his arm away from the body in the photo.”

My son Al did this recently and I think it's so inventive

We used elephant tusks and turkey eyes.  It's grotesque but wonderful

Turkey twizzler: My son Al did this recently and I think it’s so inventive. We used elephant tusks and turkey eyes. It’s grotesque but wonderful.

Earning Your Stripes: Dom drew this (below) when he was five and I used a picture of a white horse, then added the lines to make a zebra

Earning Your Stripes: Dom drew this (below) when he was five and I used a picture of a white horse, then added the lines to make a zebra

Dom's drawing is pictured above.  He drew this creature at the age of five

Dom’s drawing is pictured above. He drew this creature at the age of five

Dom also drew this when he was six

I made the collage from photos taken in my in-laws' garden

The butterfly effect: Dom also drew it when he was six years old. I made the collage from photos taken in my in-laws’ garden.

Photo research: Claire Cisotti


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